Canberra, contrary to popular belief, is full of pockets of awesome creativity, driven by wonderfully creative people. One such creative is artist and designer Juliette Dudley. Not only does Juliette make amazing work of her own, but she is the founder and director of Good Design Club, a community of local designers that ‘connects, inspires and promotes designers and illustrators in the ACT through [its] website and local events’.
I caught up with Juliette to find out a bit more about her inspiration, Good Design Club, and what she has planned for the rest of the year.
When did you first start seeing the world through illustration and design? Can you remember what first drew you to the art forms?
My family are all pretty creative in one form or another, and have always been supportive of my interest in art and design. This meant that I usually received art supplies for birthdays and Christmas. My family also love books, in particular my great aunty Dor who gave us lots of beautiful illustrated books when I was growing up. I think illustrated children’s books had a big influence on me – they were probably what introduced me to the concept of images being able to tell a story. When I was a kid I used to draw all the time. I think it was kind of an escape, but it also helped me to record my thoughts and the world around me. It was also a way of connecting with friends, drawing fan art together and stuff like that.
I didn’t really understand what graphic design was until I was about 22, when I started studying it at Canberra Institute of Technology. Prior to this I’d spent several years studying different things and working in retail. Then I finally realised that graphic design was what I wanted to do. I think like most students of graphic design, the more I immersed myself in it, the more I started to pay more attention to design in everyday life – advertising, typography, packaging, patterns, colours. Now I can’t stop noticing these things, but it’s ok because I want to!
You do quite a few different things – graphic design, illustration, and hand lettering to name a few – is there a particular medium you secretly favouritise?
For me that’s a bit like saying ‘what’s your favourite song?’ – just as I like listening to lots of different music genres, I feel that the same applies to design and illustration. By which I mean, it depends on my mood, what else I’m working on, and whether I feel like trying something new or experimenting with different materials. I guess at the moment I’m particularly interested in collage and screen printing, but I also want to get back into painting and drawing again (both digital and analogue). I also really want to get into 2D animation – film is one of my secret loves, and I’d really like to collaborate with my brothers on a short film some time (they’re creative types too).
How do you approach a brief from a client? Is it usually a simple process to get stuck into it, or do you need to search for inspiration?
It’s easy for me to come up with ideas, but whether they are right for the client and the brief is another thing. I think that’s one of the key differences between art and design – when you’re making art you can do whatever you want but with design you are coming up with a solution to a problem. Normally I will first ask the client a range of questions to find out more about them and what they need. Once I’ve developed the brief then I’ll start to come up with concepts. If it’s concept work (like branding or event design) I’ll often create a mood board either on Pinterest or make an actual collage of images, patterns, samples of type etc.
Why did you start Good Design Club? Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it?
Good Design Club mainly started because I felt that there weren’t enough events for designers and illustrators in Canberra. I also felt a bit of a void after Us Folk ended (the magazine I co-edited with my friend Ash Peak), so I decided to give myself a new project to work on. I also wanted to help to promote the work of local designers and illustrators through interviews on the Good Design Club website.
How would you describe the design community in Canberra?
I think a lot of design graduates are still moving interstate, but compared to when I first graduated in 2008 I believe attitudes have changed a fair bit. I think young people feel like they have the option of staying here if they want to. I’ve lived in Canberra my whole adult life, so I can’t really compare it to other cities, but there certainly is a positive atmosphere here at the moment. Having said that, the job market is still tough particularly for graduates. However I think it’s encouraging to look at the success of the many locally-founded design studios who are working for pretty major clients.
You’ve been hosting some really amazing workshops and field trips through Good Design Club – what has been a highlight so far?
Highlights so far for me would definitely be the trips out to Artforme Letterpress and Queanbeyan Printing Museum. The paper sculpture workshop with Anna Trundle was great too.
What’s in the works for the rest of the year?
I’m actually planning to wind back Good Design Club so it will mainly be an online magazine/blog. I’ll still organise occasional events through Good Design Club and continue to help promote other local arts/design groups, but I’ve decided to focus more on my own work for a while (it’s hard to balance all this plus my full-time day job). Plus I’m going to Japan and South Korea for a few weeks in October which should be awesome.
Check out Juliette’s incredible work below!