The Big Design Market has helped boost the businesses of thousands of Australian designers by introducing them to passionate new audiences at their impressive events across Melbourne and Sydney. And this year, they’ve upped the ante again!
Thanks to The Big Design Market’s support of emerging designers, five talented Sydney market participants were lucky to share lunch and take a studio tour with Australian art legend Ken Done. Ken’s combination of business savvy and commitment to his creative practice make him the perfect candidate to share words of wisdom with these promising illustration-based designers.
We chat with the participants – Cassie Byrnes of Variety Hour, Maylin Evanochko of Mazdevallia, Penny Ferguson of Min Pin, Esther Sandler of Togetherness Design, and jewellery accessories designer Emily Green – about what they learned from Ken to help foster a thriving independent design business. It would be hard not to be star-struck in the presence of Ken Done, but these illustrators were not afraid to pepper the art legend with plenty of questions to further their own careers!
Emily Green, Jewellery Accessories Designer
Emily Green is a life-long fan of Ken and describes, ‘it was amazing to actually meet the man whose work I have known and admired my entire life.’ As a jewellery designer with an eye for colour, Emily and Ken discussed the beauty of colour combinations, and looking to nature for inspiration.
For Emily, the most powerful part of the day was seeing how much enthusiasm Ken has retained for his practice. She explains, ‘I think the best advice from the day was to stay true to myself and to always strive to produce work primarily for my own enjoyment and creative fulfillment.’ Wise words indeed!
Esther Sandler, Togetherness Design
Esther Sandler enthusiastically describes meeting Ken as a ‘special and impactful experience.’ After initially being disarmed by his friendliness and candour, Esther was excited to hear how much her own experience as an illustrator-design related to Ken’s tips and advice. She explains that Ken’s insights about knowing your target market, and understanding the longevity of a business have ‘made me feel a lot more connected to the design world in general, more confident about what I am doing and more determined to keep making and creating into the future.’
Penny Ferguson, Min Pin
For Penny, meeting Ken presented an opportunity to ask questions about balancing creative impulses with business nous. Ken’s brand hit the mainstream in the 80s, and he explained that it was how past experience working in advertising that has given him the insights to thrive in the creative industry. Penny enthuses ‘spending the day with Ken Done and seeing how his business runs both creatively and practically, I feel like I can now see more of a future for my own career path.’
Maylin Evanochko, Mazdevallia
While all of the mentees were excited to meet Ken, for artist Maylin it was a prophecy come true. When she first started making statement jewellery, her mum encouragingly said ‘maybe one day you’ll meet Ken Done!’ The meeting was clearly meant to be, and Maylin resonated with Ken’s encouragement to maintain a sense of humour, and to not worry about the rules when creating your artwork.
Cassie Byrnes, Variety Hour
Cassie is pretty upfront about her excitement in working with Ken, as she simply states ‘Ken Done, what a legend!’
The artist met Ken when she was commencing a project that focused on the Great Barrier reef, which is an area of art expertise for Ken. The pair chatted about drawing from nature, and creating an emotive connection with the reef and aquatic creatures. Cassie explains, ‘he suggested to get out and see the world and immerse yourself in real experiences you can use as inspiration when designing next.’
Another highlight of the day was Ken sharing his first-ever artwork. For Cassie, this piece was a helpful reminder that everyone starts somewhere!
Don’t miss The Big Design Market’s next event in Sydney this September!
The Big Design Market
September 20th– 22nd
New South Wales