Hi Jackie and Mark. Thanks for chatting with us! How are you both?
I’m great, thanks for inviting us!
I am well, thanks!
Could you tell us a bit about your creative practice?
I’m currently a design student at RMIT University, honestly still figuring out my creative trajectory. I quite like being in this in-between, and perhaps might always be here. My practice as a designer and illustrator currently involves exploring my curiosities, drawing from different disciplines, and often, depicting the nuances of life through a light-hearted lens.
As of late I’ve been fascinated with creative code and generative design, as well as exploring the world of augmented reality. I’ve been itching to create in the intersections between these newer disciplines and graphic design or illustration.
My approach to illustration is inspired by the rubbery kinetic design of early Disney and Fleischer studios, and early twentieth-century newspaper comics like Popeye, plus British comics I grew up on like Beano! I do a lot of character design with inanimate things like mailboxes and weather. I’ve done this since I was a kid. When I am not working to commission, I always have a few personal projects on the go.
At the moment, I’m finishing a series of illustrations for a zine about meditation that should be ready late 2020 / early 2021. I’m also producing a series of free creative activity packs during the pandemic, called Creative Care packages. Number 5 should be out in the next week or so…
How has COVID-19, or 2020 in general, impacted your creativity and mental wellbeing?
Weirdly, my creativity or workflow hasn’t really been affected. I feel like I create relatively consistently no matter my environment. But I do miss being able to go to events, shows and places that are promisingly inspiring or being immersed in the work of others. As for wellbeing, this year has had waves of feeling lonely, especially with being away from my family and friends in New Zealand.
I wrestled with feeling distant and socially exhausted (ironically). At the same time, I’ve realised how blessed I am to be living with my sister, in my little apartment.
I’m a Christian, and I truly believe that being anchored by my faith in God’s plan has graced me with so much more strength and resilience during these times.
When the shit hit the fan, at first it had a positive impact on my creativity, because the pace of life slowed down and this made space for new things which was great. I’m also enjoying the challenge of working more remotely when I do collaborative projects like this one, and looking forward to learning new ways working in this way. I think that my creative practice will benefit from all of this in a lot of ways.
In terms of wellbeing, being a freelancer is precarious and can be lonely at the best of times – and 2020 has increased the emotional attrition of this stuff a lot for me. On the other hand, I was always hopeless at attending conferences and talks – but now they are online I check them out much more often and these are really helpful both creatively and psychologically, so that’s been good.
What have you changed in your life lately to make it more enjoyable?
Being in lockdown gave me the ability to become aware of how I handle my time, and revealed to me my really detrimental habit of working during every spare moment. I read this book called “The Art of Rest” by Adam Mabry, and I felt so attacked. I had to rest, I had to realise that every part of my life, my friendships, family, my health, my faith, are equally, or dare I say, more valuable than my career, and worth prioritising. Definitely hard to put the philosophy into practice, though!
I’ve begun to schedule my weeks and block out my days to make sure I’m resting, and to assure myself I’ll still have time to do my work through it all. It doesn’t always work, I’m still not amazing at it, but it has definitely helped!
I’m moving house, getting a garden and a studio! This will make my life much more enjoyable but is currently a massive pain in the arse.
As an industry, how do you think we can better support creatives and their mental health? How do we bring about Collective Hope?
There’s a really poisonous issue with glorifying hustle culture. Even among students, there’s this unspoken pride that comes with all-nighters, being too busy for something, or being a ‘workaholic’. Before being designers, we’re humans. The world is fast-paced, of course, but worshipping the hustle will end up shaming those who take it slow, even if it’s unintentional.
I always think an existential crisis is good for you, a critical reflection on the purpose of what you do, and of course, your purpose for being. I think having spaces and opportunities (like this!) to share honest conversations about how we feel, and our perceptions of success, are really crucial to creating a supportive community where we don’t have to be ashamed about feeling insecure or unmotivated.
I think collaborative creative projects are a great way of promoting solidarity and combating isolation. I think the creative industry could embrace and represent failure and the vulnerability of the creative process more, make it more normal- that could make a big difference.
Finally, I think that socially engaged creative projects are really needed at the moment and that the creative industry could do more to use resources more inclusively. Also, work more directly with their audiences. This would be a refreshing change for everyone!
Lastly, what has working on this project meant to you?
I got to meet Mark, create something pretty cool and learn about his process! It was heaps of fun to bounce back and forth, and Mark introduced me to a great Judee Sill song along the way. Collaborative projects, as Mark pointed out before, are key to building a sense of unity within a community – witnessing what’s come out of the Collective Hope project has been a real testament to that unity, even across the globe.
It meant that I got to meet a design and illustrator on the other side of the planet, and mess around with a spreadsheet! It has been great to meet Jackie. She was fun to work with, and I’ve been in touch with her about a couple of things since we finished our Collective Hope contribution.
Being in touch with someone I have never met in a completely different timezone and working creatively together is a really helpful reminder that we are all human beings and it’s easier to connect with each other than it might seem.