Profile: Conversations with Designers

Published:  October 23, 2011
Brita Frost
Profile: Conversations with Designers

The labour of love defines the graphic designer – allowing a practice to develop in often unexpected ways, it also contributes a certain dynamism to Australia’s design culture.

Over the coming week’s eight labours of love will be profiled.

Conversations with Designers
Founder: Liana Lucca-Pope
Conversations with Designers is a series of short films on Australian graphic designers produced by Liana Lucca-Pope on a negligible budget for the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA). These insightful films explore the way a range of designers think and craft their work and have included profiles on Michaela Webb, Bruce Weatherhead and, more recently, Dom Bartolo and Max Robinson.

What prompted you to start Conversations with Designers?
There were three clear catalysts. Lecturing in design, I liked to show students short and preferably online films with designers talking about their craft. While there are lots of Europeans and Americans, I couldn’t find any Australians, which seemed to belie my claim to students that we are world-class designers. I also went to a talk by Rick Poyner in 2009 where he seemed to be challenging designers to fight for recognition as design thinkers (and not just people that make things look pretty). The other thing was that as a volunteer on the AGDA council, I wanted to contribute something new and meaningful to the culture of design that would not just speak to us, but communicate on our behalf to the wider community.

What has been your happiest moment working on it?
I get a kick out of so many things. Not the least that I’m meeting and spending time with some amazing and inspiring people, who are not only willing to engage with me, but are also so open and generous with their insights. Also – this is not a happy moment as such – but I’m grateful that got to spend time with Bruce Weatherhead before he died and record his thoughts and passion for design. We hadn’t even edited the film at the time that he passed, so I felt such a sense of responsibility for ensuring that he was recorded well. And I believe that we did, so I’m really proud of that.

Bruce Weatherhead

Dom Bartolo

How important are labours of love to design culture?
You know, I don’t think I realised just how important labours of love were until I started making these films. It came up in the interviews many times, particularly with Dom Bartolo, who talked about the importance of doing personal work because it challenges him in ways that the traditional paid structure doesn’t. I think it’s also good for the soul or the creative spirit to do things for fun or for love rather than money. Your energy just changes. Somehow because you’re doing things for altruistic reasons, there’s a kind of pure love that goes into the crafting.

Where do you ultimately see the project going?
I just want to make more films. Or eventually hand the reins over to someone else who’s going to love it as much as I do. I can’t help fantasising that SBS or somebody will suddenly discover them and say, ‘Wow, this is really important and we want to throw lots of money at you!’ Or perhaps it leads into a show on Channel 31. If I had more time, I’d probably pursue those kinds of ideas, but I’m flat out just doing what I do. And chasing global domination is not really my style anyway, so I’ll basically be happy if we can get three or four films out a year.

Fiona Sweet

Brian Sadgrove

Thumbnail image: Max Robinson.

From desktop magazine.

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