Solid Lines drawing a pathway for First Nations illustrators 

Solid Lines drawing a pathway for First Nations illustrators 

Australia’s only First Nations led agency dedicated to representing First Nations illustrators and artists has been created by two RMIT academics.

Solid Lines illustration agency marks a major milestone for protecting Indigenous cultural and intellectual property (ICIP) within design and digital spaces. 

It will provide First Nations artists with a culturally safe pathway into the industry and educate the design and commercial art community to understand the requirements for engaging with First Nations creatives within commercial settings. 

The agency is an outcome of a research conducted by Emrhan Tjapanangka Sultan (Western Arrarnta, Luritja and Kokatha) and Dr Nicola St John, with the support of First Nations artists and The Jacky Winter Group.

Their research explored current experiences, challenges, and opportunities for First Nations access and participation within the design and commercial art industries through direct First Nations engagement.  

Artist Tyrown Waigana in front of 3 illustrations at the Lamington Drive gallery space Wandandi Noongar and Ait Koleda artist Tyrown Waigana contributed to the research by sharing his experiences and reimagining a more supportive design and commercial art industry for First Nations voices. Photo: RMIT University

St John says currently there are no licensing or production guidelines to ICIP within design and digital spaces, despite the prominence of visual arts-based guidelines and protocols (for example ArtsLaw, the Indigenous Art Code, and the Copyright Agency).   

“Our research has led to real world impact in establishing Solid Lines directly alongside First Nations artists and industry. This agency is ground-breaking in how the business structure, commissions and ICIP policy have been collaboratively established with transparency and cultural integrity at the heart,” she said. 

“Solid Lines creates a culturally safe pathway into commercial design industries, but also acts as a space to inform the design and commercial art community on the diversity of First Nations creative practice and how to engage respectfully and meaningfully within commercial settings.” 

 “Ensuring supportive representation, appropriate payment and protection we aim to generate respectful employment opportunities and long-term careers within industries which have often been ignorant of or refused to engage with First Nations ways of working.” 

A person with headphones on watching an animation as part of the exhibition Solid Lines launch exhibition is on at Lamington Drive until 31 July 2022. Photo: RMIT University

Sultan says Solid Lines will begin as an incubator project with The Jacky Winter Group and will be primed to grow into an independent First Nations owned and run agency in the near future. 

“Solid Lines is leading the way for change and strengthening respectful relationships and opportunities in a marginalised creative design industry,” he said.  

“It’s a platform to showcase First Nations artists and creatives and ensure they will be represented fairly within the commercial art industries.”  

“As part of this process, we listened and heard from First Nations creatives at the grass roots level who highlighted where we needed to start and what values needed to be at the heart of this venture.”  

Solid Lines launched 24 June 2022 with an exhibition at Lamington Drive, Collingwood. The exhibition will run until 31 July 2022. 


Story by: Katie Comas


  • Indigenous
  • Arts and culture

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.