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Gold Coast graphic designers

Design Purveyor: Laura Strange, ArtWork Agency

We’ve identified the Gold Coast graphic designers, photographers and agencies that are at the forefront of the industry and proving that the Gold Coast knows good design.

ArtWork (AW) have built kudos not just for their graphic design but for their ability to weave art based projects into their branding and design solutions.

We sat down with Laura Strange, Lead Designer at AW to talk about good design, inspiration and living on the Gold Coast.

What type of projects does the studio specialise in?

At AW we get kicks from doing heaps of different stuff. We all come from really varied backgrounds, which is reflected in our business.

My specialisations are in design across print and digital, and branding. Claudio handles all our photography, illustration and artbased projects, while Paul is our expert in brand management and
business mentoring. So the AW package really is about photography, design, art and consultation.

Who are your clients and what work do you produce for them?

Our client base is really diverse, but we definitely specialise in what we coin “cultural” clients or projects – which to us means collaborating with clients whose businesses contribute to the making of place and culture.

This sees us working a lot in the art, food and drink and fashion spaces. Over the last couple of years we’ve collaborated with some “big guns” such as Nixon, Spell Byron Bay and Epokhe, and also tonnes of local talent like Burleigh Brewing Co., Black Sheep Cycling, Etsu Izakaya and The Lamb Shop.  We also love working on city building projects with City of Gold Coast and Arts Centre Gold Coast, too.

The work we produce for our clients is really varied – anything from commercial photography, to prints for fashion, to branding.

Mixing it up means we are never, ever bored!

What piece of work are you most proud of and why?

This is a hard one – lots of projects have different elements that make us smile, but I think it would be between the event brand and placemaking work we did for City of Gold Coast with 2970º – The Boiling Point, our ongoing work with Bleach* Festival and recent brand refresh with Justin Lane. What I love about all these projects is their interdisciplinary nature and the impact we see them having on the community.

What made you want to become a designer?

When I was a kid I used to make scrapbooks/journals with snippets of inspiration from everywhere. I guess I’ve just always been drawn to visuals and the written word, and design provides this beautiful blend of mixing the two together to drive change.

That, and when my careers counsellor in school told me I’d never be a designer because I couldn’t “draw”, I was determined to prove her wrong…

Where did you start your design career?

Looking at pathways after school, I was keen on design – but it had a surprisingly high OP. Not wanting to take any risks in getting in, I enrolled in Griffith University’s GUESTS program where I got to undertake a day a week of Uni subjects, which if I passed, guaranteed me entry into the course. We literally got marked on making a book about light, and an installation of giant cardboard chickens.

Needless to say, it was a pretty fun introduction into the design world so I was hooked. During uni I worked part time with Channel 7 in the graphics department, took on as many internships as I could and soaked it all up. I think this really helped when I got into design fulltime as I had a sense of what I enjoyed and was good at.

What inspires your design?

I just love being able to take something and make it better – make it communicate more clearly, work a little more seamlessly, or sometimes, just be more beautiful. I guess you’d say I’m inspired by opportunity – the opportunity that design brings for betterment.

How has your career evolved?

It doesn’t stop evolving, and I hope it never does. I think as a designer, you never reach a point where you feel finished or accomplished. I started out as a junior designer working in TV/News graphics, moved into branding, and now reside somewhere between the two, focusing with a passion for branding and digital. I also enjoy the account management and client relationship side of the business, so it’ll be interested to see where my career leads in that space also.

What is one thing that people don’t know about you?

I’m a massive Pokemon fan…only the original stuff though! I went to Toys R Us as a kid every weekend to play in the trading card club there. Yeah, I’m cool, okay!

What is your favourite campaign and why?

The ongoing marketing campaigns by Frank are just so cool. They’re so cool I’m not even sure they qualify as campaigns anymore – their whole language has just become so innate to their brand.

I’m really inspired by brands whose language is so raw, real and engaging. The way Frank build a long term relationship through online content marketing is really inspiring.

In the agency land, we are actually working away behind the scenes to launch the first official ArtWork website. It’s been a long time coming and as such are planning a micro launch campaign to share what we do with the world. Keep you eyes peeled!

What are the biggest challenges of being a designer today?

I think client education is a challenge for everyone. Some clients totally understand the value of hiring a professional designer, while some need help to understand why we charge our rates when they can get a “logo” via Fiverr or something. Educating clients can take time, but it’s definitely worthwhile – it helps us but also the creative industry overall.

What are your three biggest rules with design?

Form follows function. Have a good reason for everything you put to paper.

Simplicity is the ultimate achievement. A piece of design is finished not when there’s nothing left to add, but rather when there is nothing left to take away.

Corporate doesn’t equal boring. Working with corporate companies, for me, has provided some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences.

What is the design industry on the Gold Coast like?

I love being part of the design industry here on the GC. We have this amazing lifestyle that is so conducive to ideation and creativity.

I also love that we work with other local agencies and creatives to play off each other’s strengths. People know we do photography really, really well, so a lot of agencies will commission us to do that for their clients – but there’s an innate trust on the GC that we don’t step on each other’s turf.

Why have you decided to base yourself on the Gold Coast?

You know when you travel, that feeling when you first arrive home? I love that feeling of being home. And for me I’ve found that feeling on the Coast.

What are the top five things to do on the Gold Coast?

Eat. Seriously, number one. We have some absolute world class food in this city. A current addiction is Easy Street Diner.

Keep active. We have a whole natural playground at our fingertips.

Local creative events and initiatives. Anything at the City Gallery is always tops, DIA and AGDA run some great local design events. For emerging designers, The Design Kids run TDK Tuesdays too.

Relax. What else is the beach made for?

Markets. One of my favourite ways to discover new, local brands that I connect with. And also eat more food. Chinatown Market when it’s on is a gem.

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