Friday, November 28, 2008

Interview - Willy Karl Beecher

Motion graphics for the MADC Awards 2008 by Willy Beecher

Title sequence for the AFI awards 2007

Willy Karl Beecher is an incredibly talented Melbourne designer, and also a great friend of my partner Gordon. If you live in Australia and own a TV, it's more than likely that you've seen Willy's incredible work at some point... but you probably haven't spared a thought for the process and expertise required to create the stunning motion graphics he is responsible for!

Willy is a design director whose varied portfolio of work includes branding, art direction, graphic design and motion graphics for film, TV and commercials. Amongst other things, he designs and creates the superimposed graphics and effects you see in so many commercials and title sequences. It's work that often blends so seamlessly into the viewing experience, that you mightn't always notice just how involved this design process is!

Willy's clients over the years have included Adidas, the AFI awards, Herald and Weekly Times, Nissan, Mio and Village Cinemas. Willy also lectures in Illustration, Design and Motion Graphics at RMIT in Melbourne.

Please take a moment to watch Willy's incredible showreel below... Its like, WOW!

Tell me a little about your background - what did you study and what path led you to what you're doing now?

As far back as I remember I have been interested in art, all through school it fascinated me. For me I could think of no better way to indulge my time than simply create things. Through secondary school I discovered an aptitude for Art and Design and focused my studies primarily on these.

I studied Industrial Design at RMIT Melbourne starting back in 1989, and although I loved illustration and concept development during this course, I found it too engineering and technically based. I managed to complete 2 years over 4, yet couldn't find the passion I needed to complete the course. I've spoken to many people that have had similar experiences, and I suppose when I lecture it gives me a sense of empathy towards my students.

After a soul searching 2 year break, I returned with a vengeance to study Electronic Design & Interactive Media, again at RMIT. During this course I discovered my passion for moving image and I focused almost entirely on Graphic Design and Animation. In 1995 the course was still evolving, we were on the eve of the internet boom and the lecturers encouraged whatever crazy ideas you could develop. For me this was perfect!

On graduation I was employed as a designer for a graphic design firm, JM Artworks. This was a small but wonderful place, where the Creative Director encouraged everyone. It was a hectic and crazy environment but we had so much fun, a madhouse of designers and artists. I would often be struck on the head by a flying Elmo. I stayed on for about 2 and a half years.

In late 1997, and with some luck I landed a job as a Designer for a boutique animation company called Planet X Studios. Here I trained as a Design Director. I was surrounded by animation and broadcast experts and was educated to follow extremely high standards of production. Working mostly on TVCs and film graphics there was NO margin for error, and the pressure was constant. Planet X was great because I learned professional skills, not only in design but in management, and business.

Following this I started YenBrand with Adam Rankin. We were a boutique Motion Graphics and Branding consultancy. We had reasonable success but after 2 and a half years we parted ways to pursue alternative careers.

Since this time I have worked for myself.

motion graphic for Desktop Magazine 'Create' awards

What are some of your projects/clients that we might be familiar with?

I work with such a variety of brands that I rarely get bored, its great. I work on Television Commercials, Branding, TV Identities and Corporate Projects. Some you may be familiar with: The AFI AWARDS for 2007, branding and concept design for a series of AMP commercials, a HONDA TVC spot, Corporate Branding videos for SIEMENS, Adidas and an interesting one recently was Design Direction for Optus / "Hot Hits" a teenage music and celebrity show on Mobile Phones. Currently I'm working on Design for a series of retail TVCs for Nissan.

Title sequence for the AFI awards 2006

You work closely with film directors and agency to achieve the polished motion graphics we see on TV commercials. How much creative freedom do you have when determining the 'look' of this commercial work?

I'm very fortunate and grateful that I'm given lots of freedom to develop creative. I never work alone though and I must credit everyone involved, especially the producers that work behind the scenes with the admin and scheduling.

For me it's vital that I receive enough time from clients to develop animation. There is a process I insist on where proper briefings, storyboards, style frames and Animatics come first. Most clients understand the importance of this to achieve the "look". When everyone is in agreement, projects rise to the top in quality.

Motion graphics for the Defence Department TVCs

Which designers, artists or creative people are you inspired by?

I'm going through an introspective period regarding this, its because there is so much wonderful work, I'm simply overwhelmed.

Perhaps its also a realisation on how small we really are. Even so creatives like these inspire me to tears:

Theo Jansen

Where else do you find inspiration? (books, magazines, the web, travel, film etc).

I'm fascinated by beauty in so many forms, including music, but especially the magic of nature. I often turn to nature for colour schemes, patterns and movement. The Planet Earth DVD series with David Attenborough, The Jelly Fish enclosure at the Melbourne Aquarium, or the Butterflies at the Melbourne Zoo, Simply Brilliant!

Poster for the Loreal Melbourne Fashion Festival 2005

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Because I work on contract my days vary considerably. Although I do work on an hourly basis, I may do a week of 12 Hour days, after which I may have 4 days off. I'm very conscious of my health and train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 4 times a week. My girlfriend, puppy and I also often retreat to the country, natural environments are a rejuvenating experience.

Willy's portrait of his partner, Ellie

What are you most proud of professionally?

Cultivating great professional relationships that last, and being hired as the generator of creative vision.

What's the best thing about your job?

Creating wonder and magic, seriously!

And the worst?

People that don't understand the value of the creative process. I believe design must be taken more seriously in this country, valued at early stages of education. We are all surrounded and intrinsically involved with design. Whether we like this or not, from tangible products to TV, the clothes we wear, books, film, cars, buildings, interiors, the list goes on. Having an educated perspective on universal design principles increases the quality of your life experience.

What would be your dream project?

I've worked on many dream projects, but in 2009 I'm aiming to acquire contracts from the US market.

Identity Design for TV Networks like NBC, CNN, Discovery and Feature Film Title Design.

Concept work for MRPPP in Melbourne

What are you looking forward to?

More travel and buying a house!

What's on your 'to do' list this week?

Getting my Tax sorted, I also have a BJJ Jiu Jitsu tournament coming up, so I'm training hard.

Melbourne Questions –

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

Actually it was the Lorne pier seafood shop. We ordered Coffin and Smokey Bay Oysters, so fresh and wonderful!

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Sleeping in :)

Melbourne's best kept secret?

There is a brilliant old school Italian grocery store in Moonee Ponds called Russos Meats. It's on Holmes Road. They have incredible home made salami and sausages, recently I ordered a home made Prosciutto. Its hanging in the store with my name on it. It will be ready in December, Yum!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

RMIT Industrial Design Graduate Exhibition

Bald Bowls by graduate Ben Landau is an interactive design project in which bald men cast each other’s heads in plaster, and then slip cast them to create bowls. The event grew from therapeutic sessions of bald support groups and includes art therapy theories. By creating something together, bald men can connect with each other through a unique process, and have an artefact to show for it in the end, which represents their acceptance of balding.

NOOK by Industrial Design graduate Henry Sgourakis is an exploration of knits and weaves from the ‘arts and crafts’ movements of the past 150 years, and is inspired by detailed lace work in original handcrafted doilies -

I have not yet been to see the RMIT Industrial Design grad show, but it's only on for three more days (ie this Friday - Sunday)... so I thought best to pop something up before the weekend so you have time to check it out!

The show is called Parting Line, and includes the work of 20 gradating students. The photos above were kindly provided by one of the exhibiting students, Liam Prescott.

The exhibition is at the gorgeous Guildford Lane Gallery which I wrote about recently... it's a beautiful space, so if you get the chance do take a moment to support these emerging designers and discover a lovely new gallery in the CBD this weekend!

The Guildford Lane Gallery
20-24 Guildford Lane
Melbourne 3000

Open Wed-Fri 12-9 / Sat-Sun 12-5

Melbourne Design Market

Pssst. Everyone's talking about it, so I'm sure I don't need to remind you, but the Melbourne Design Market is on again this weekend, just in time for all your Christmas shopping! (in case you need reminding what's on offer, my coverage of the last design market is here)

I'll be there, camera in hand...

Melbourne Design Market
Federation Square undercover carpark

(enter via Russell st extension)

10-5pm this Sunday Nov 30th
entry is free

VCA Graduate Show 08

I know I shouldn't play favourites but.... Kaori Katos' large scale folded paper sculpture entitled Nostalgic Memories really blew me away. Just look at that incredible folded geometric pattern. Beautiful.

Linda Tegg's Dachshund photograph formed part of a series of stunningly captured paddling puppies! The piece was acquired as part of the ANZ Visual Arts award earlier this year.

Hold on / let go installation by Nicole Henderson. Simple but striking.

Still on the end-of-year student exhibition trail, this week I visited the mammoth Victorian College of the Arts graduate show... that's photography, drawing, printmaking, painting, sculpture and spatial practice, all under one roof (well, not strictly one roof, but all at the one campus!).

There is honestly so much to see, so if you're only going to get to one graduate show this year, this is the one to see. It's a real mixed bag, and not everything won me over - but amongst the mass of obtuse video art and various renderings of naked female bodyparts, there were some absolute gems. Much of the work is for sale, with price tags mostly between $100-$500 - money well spent if you consider that some of these graduates will be the Ricky Swallows and Patricia Piccininis of tomorrow!

Highlights above and below.

These delicious photorealistic oil paintings by Adrian Stojkovoch were so full of depth and rich colour. My surreptitious photo-taking really doesn't do them justice.... Up close those raspberries are just lush, thick strokes of colour! Amazing. Top - My most inspiring book, Bottom left - Beginning to colour (fish).

More from Adrian Stojkovoch - top left beetroot and endive salad (I think?), and on the right the stunning My Scottish mother's kitchen.

Memorial Projection mixed media and projection by Peter Thomas was one of the more memorable video art exhibits. The scale was grandiose, and I like the combination of projection and collage/mixed media.

Heavily politicised but lighthearted and almost comical in its aesthetic, Rachel Joy's works were the highlight of the Sculpture exhibition. Top - Rachel Joy's cardboard sheep (cannot find the name of this piece I'm so sorry!), and bottom A hard day at the office.

More political commentary from Rachel Joy - this is a handscrawled and almost illegible transcript of Kevin Rudd's apology to Indigeous Australians.

Kooky characters from printmaker Georgia Harris. They remind me of The Yellow Submarine.

Interesting textured prints referencing motherhood and family by Glenn Dalton - top - imprints of baby clothes on textured printing paper. Bottom - nests of varying sizes rest alongside Dalton's prints. (must apologise again I have misplaced some notes with these titles).

Darlington - embroidery on wire flyscreen mesh by Roseanne Johnson in the painting dept.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the work of previous Design Files interviewee Amber Wallis on display! I love this layered paper collage.... again not done any justice by my swift and sneaky photo taking. I think its called Hauraki Gulf/Sing for my life ...?

Lily Martin's Portrait, oil on canvas was part of a series of accomplished portrait studies

Details from a series of detailed oil paintings by Tully Moore called Debris Scenes, documenting various paper collages. Those delicately rendered folds in the paper (top image) are amazing.

VCA Graduate Exhibition 2008
VCA Margaret Lawrence Gallery and various spaces on campus
40 Dodds st

Monday - Friday 10.00am - 5.00pm
Saturday and Sunday - 12.00noon - 5.00pm

Until November 30th (that's this Sunday!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Christmas in print

Inside Out - special Christmas issue

Shots from the beautiful (and slightly Christmas-ified) home of Sydney stylist Lynsey Fryers.... ahhhhh... love. it. Photos - Petrina Tinslay.

I know I know... Christmas is just another marketing ploy to make us buy more stuff. Possibly... but Christmas is also such a good excuse to indulge your creative side - its a stylist's heaven, and needn't be all about the $$$. Both Inside Out and Real Living have special Christmas issues out at the moment... and before you pounce on me for perpetuating the Christmas PR machine, both these issues are really, really good!

Both mags offer some seriously stunning content and photos to drool over... really gorgeous and carefully considered stories that certainly don't feel like the left-overs from previous issues (as can sometimes be the case with 'special issue' publications). Inside Out shares some beautiful Aussie homes all dressed up for Christmas, some incredible food spreads, as well as simple DIY decorating ideas from the likes of fashion designer Lee Mathews and stylist Lynsey Fryers.

Real Living has a more level-headed, budget-conscious approach to the holiday season. They offer a really great, thorough article on how to 'give back' at Christmas time (volunteering, mentoring and fundraising etc), as well as the obligatory gift guides and creative, cost effective decorating and wrapping ideas. Of course, there's also a great collection of gorgeous Australian homes to peek at.

Go and get 'em.

Christmas wreaths from Inside Out. Styling - Vanessa Colyer Tay, Photo - John Dennis.

Bohemian-esque Christmas party at the studio of Sydney artist (and Inside Out favourite) Lisa Cooper. Photo - Sharyn Cairns

Gorgeous Christmassy prop styling from Inside Out. Stylist - Glen Proebstel, Photo - Sam McAdam.

Real Living's summery Christmas cover

Love this retro-style living room with Christmas flourishes from Real Living. How about that gorgeous little couch? Styling - Rachel Brown, Photo - Amanda Prior.

Real Living round ups the best in wrapping papers

Real Living cute, inexpensive gift wrapping ideas

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dinosaur Designs latest range - Bird

Brochure page spreads from Dinosaur Designs latest collection 'Bird'

Just received a gorgeous mail-out from Dinosaur Designs about their new collection 'Bird'. The vibrant range of jewellery and limited edition objects is truly stunning... but I have to say I was equally impressed by the design of the brochure itself! A unique combination of inspired graphic collages by Dinosaur co-founder Louise Olsen, lush flowers by Saskia Havekes of Grandiflora (who else?), bold, striking photos by Derek Henderson and delicate handwritten text - all expertly intertwined by Melbourne design firm Mahon and Band.

On the back page of the brochure is a little information about the Gouldian Finch, a colourful Australian native bird whose population is declining rapidly.... For this reason it is explained that Dinosaur Designs will donate a percentage of the sales from their Bird collection to the World Wildlife Fund to support their ongoing work with endangered species.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dumbo Feather handmade envelopes

Famed Australian independent 'mook' (magazine + book = mook) Dumbo Feather have come up with a fabulous idea for damaged / unsaleable copies of their gorgeous publication. These mini envelopes are part of an ongoing project whereby the pages of these unread backissues are recycled and turned into something new… apparently it is their goal to ensure that no page of Dumbo Feather is wasted!

Available from the Dumbo Feather online shop - $15.00 for a colour-themed pack of 3 handmade envelopes, 3 plain cards, 3 labels and 3 sticker seals.

The envelopes were handmade by Dumbo Feather reader Kate Mason, who also creates other envelopes and paper goods from all kinds of recycled papers which she sells on Etsy. (Kate is currently overseas but check back in the new year for more handmade papery goodness)

Introducing ads!

Love love love this ongoing series of photos by German photographer Jan von Holleben, entitled Dreams of Flying.
First things first. I want to take a moment to say a huge THANK YOU to all the wonderful people who visit this site regularly, or even just occasionally.... Thank you for your loyal readership, your lovely emails and comments, your encouragement and constant support! Thanks, too, for linking to the site, telling your friends about it and generally spreading the word... I can't quite believe how much The Design Files has grown in just under a year, but I truly feel so lucky to have such an incredible network of people tuning in everyday just to see what I've got to say :)

... and now onto some quite big news!

This week is a very exciting week in the short history of The Design Files. After writing the blog for almost a year, I have decided to take the plunge and offer advertising on the site!

Truth is, I love every minute I put into The Design Files... but it really does take up an awful lot of my time! I have so many ideas bubbling away for this site - new features, competitions, collaborations with other bloggers and like-minded creatives and many other cross-over projects... and I've realised that a little sponsorship would go a long way to help facilitate some of these grand plans.
So it seems only right now to give a little introduction for my first ever sponsors(!) - Crumpler Bags! After spending a couple of weeks cautiously planning my foray into web advertising, and tentatively approaching potential sponsors, it sure was encouraging when Crumpler responded cheerfully with a "sure, we'll take a banner"!

Crumpler is a truly fantastic Melbourne-born company with a great history of supporting local creatives... they often collaborate with young filmmakers/designers for their super-kooky marketing campaigns, and sponsor many Melbourne indy/artsy events (including tertiary Film Festival ‘U Film Fest’ and the Enhance TV ATOM Awards.) They’re good guys. (You might remember I interviewed their designer Joel Adams back in April).

So a big thankyou to my current one and only sponsor Crumpler! - any inquiries about ads on this site, please don't hesitate to shoot me an email. I'm offering nice little spots in the right-hand column at very reasonable rates :)

more Dreams of Flying by Jan von Holleben