Griffith University’s Queensland College of Art (QCA) is a major melting pot of creativity – while graphic design is a common career path, students have parlayed their design smarts into businesses as diverse as special effects makeup, floral artistry, homeware design and blogging.
More Gold Coast caught up with four talented designers who are daring in different directions.
After graduating in 2013, Chloe Dawson moved to England where she ran a small business making flower crowns and headscarves called “Crown of Eden”. This experience led to the opening of her own florist, “Eden—The Flower Shop”.
Born and bred on the Gold Coast, Chloe got her start from a third-year Graphic Design subject – the final assessment called for her to come up with a product and brand to present to industry professionals. She developed Crown of Eden; the business exploded, and once she graduated, it became her full-time job.
“Since then I realised I may as well add florist to my titles!” admits Chloe.
Chloe combines her graphic design, product design, and floristry skills and Crown of Eden is booming. She’s utilized her graphic design skills to create patterns she has printed onto fabric and sewn into headscarves.
“Adding my floristry skills to the lot, I now produce fresh flower crowns and fresh floral workings to the range of products I sell,” Chloe says.
She’s proud of how far she’s come from that original university assignment, with her work featured in several magazines and on CD covers, and her products stocked as far away as Dubai. She also has her own new Gold Coast shop and runs short courses.
Chloe takes her inspiration from nature, its colours, textures, and forms.
“I think getting your colours ‘right’ impacts any design, whether it be graphic or physical,” she says.
Even though she brands herself as a florist now, she affirms: “I don’t think I wasted doing four years to become a product and graphic designer. Everything I learned at QCA has gone into my floristry and gives me a massive advantage. Just having that ‘creative eye’ for things makes such a big difference to my work”.
She’s always busy designing for weddings, and recently released a line of temporary floral tattoos – she’s still recovering from that particular production process!
Chloe actively maintains her Pinterest account, and spends a lot of time creating mood boards and colour schemes and keeps her fans up-to-date via her website and etsy shop.
Violent Maiden is a cosmetic brand created by QCA graduate Lexi Stewart. Lexi defines Violent Maiden as a “cruelty-free cosmetic brand” that targets a niche market inspired by alternative Japanese culture.
From the age of 13, Lexi harbored a passion for special effects makeup which led her to study a diploma in Cinemagraphic Makeup recently, alongside running Violent Maiden. She currently works as a makeup artist, specialising in films and special effects because, as she affirms, “weddings are just not my thing!”
Lexi was originally interested in graphic design which led her to study a Bachelor of Digital Media, where one of her lecturers introduced her to the idea of running her own business and became her first significant mentor.
“By the end of the course, the idea to create a cosmetic brand had fully hatched in my head”.
Before realising her brand, Lexi landed a job with Gold Coast Graphic Design. This role proved to be the “greatest learning experience of her life” where—with the helping hand of her Creative Director and mentor, Kelly Robinson—she absorbed a vast amount of knowledge, ready to launch Violent Maiden in 2014.
Lexi’s proudest achievement was graduating from the Australian Academy of Cinemagraphic Makeup, with a tricky makeup application using prosthetics as the final assessment. She defines herself as an artist because “the realization of finding my focus and switching to makeup artistry has been a great experience. Nothing compares to the feeling of knowing you’re doing the right thing”.
Lexi’s style and approach are to mix beauty with dark themes “everything I create has a little darkness within it,” she says.
She takes inspiration from all kinds of weird and wonderful sources but strives to make them as sophisticated as possible. “I find inspiration through my undying love of Japan, pop culture, the past and the future”, she says. It is all pure escapism. A plan to expand the brand into a special FX range (think fake blood) is now in the works!
“There is a gap in the film industry for good quality FX makeup that is not only practical and reliable but also good-looking!” The future looks bloody, violent and wonderfully good for Lexi.
Dos Ombré is a Gold Coast luxe bohemian homewares and lifestyle brand, created by QCA graduate, Andrea Horvatt.
To Andrea, the Dos Ombré philosophy is simple: “your home should reflect the journey you take and items bring a sense of place into your abode, making your house a home”.
With a unique and individual design sense, Dos Ombré strives to support sustainable relationships with artisans from around the world, through fair and direct trade. The goal is to bring functional and thoughtful designed pieces directly to online customers, by blending modern style with timeless techniques.
Andrea always knew that any business she’d operate would have to be extremely creative, and after working in fashion and travelling for several years, she returned to the Gold Coast for her design degree.
The Dos Ombré adventure began shortly after her graduation. There were so many wonderful things Andrea had seen during her travels that weren’t available and at an affordable price to the Australian market. “I was excited to show those products here in OZ and tweak the design,” she says. The business started with a few products, then expanded to a much larger collection that never stops growing.
Andrea gets to work and design with artisans from different cultures, villages, and tribes. She learns about the crafts that they’ve been perfecting for decades. Getting to understand the stories behind each piece is pretty special.
Her favourite experience so far has been the set designs for a scene of Byron Beach, plus a Moroccan tea party in a yurt, for the travel blog ‘The Vista’.
“They were both pretty fun and shot by Sybil Steele”. Andrea loves styling shoots and people’s homes, “its super fun and a passion of mine to see projects evolve into beautiful spaces and editorial work”.
Create Live Grow is a Gold Coast blog run by the QCA graduate Jess Williams.
She graduated from a Bachelor of Digital Media in 2010, with a major in graphic design and a minor in e-photojournalism and currently works full time from home as a graphic design and creative director, alongside 20 other home-based team members.
Her passion for Create Live Grow was born when Jess decided she wanted to create a site that embodied who she is as a person, not just a designer.
In order to be truly fulfilled, Jess discovered she needed to not only express her creativity, but also to adopt a healthy active lifestyle to nurture her personal and spiritual growth. That’s how her blog—a hub of inspiration and education promoting balance was born.
She has an inherent need to be creative, but, without nurturing the other sides, she can tend to become resentful and overworked, blocking the artistic flow and completely crumpling any inspiration or motivation.
“Create Live Grow is a constant reminder to keep that balance and learn from others that manage to do the same”
Jess is particularly proud of the times she has embraced challenges in unfamiliar areas and pulled them off. These include designing recipe books (published throughout Australia), a swimwear line to be stocked in Myer, and the commercial interior and exterior artwork for a female health club. She also picked up the camera again for a national photography campaign.
“I get my inspiration in a variety of ways but mainly when I allow myself the time out,” Jess says.
“It’s a high priority of mine to have regular ‘me time’ and that allows me to get excited about putting energy into new projects”.