August 2024

Just Say Yes

Georgia PerryGeorgia PerryGeorgia PerryGeorgia PerryGeorgia PerryGeorgia PerryGeorgia PerryText: Jill Greig Images: Georgia Perry

Georgia Perry is a designer with a penchant for clarity and colour. The content of her multidisciplinary work is varied, but connected by her recognisable aesthetic: a sense of simplicity, and a light and bright execution. Ahead of Georgia’s involvement in ‘A Touch of Class’ for Sydney Design Week, Jillian Greig caught up with her to talk about the creative process, girls in design and hot dogs.

Jillian Greig: First up, why don’t you tell me a bit about how you got into design?

Georgia Perry: I didn’t really think about it – I was just always going to do it I think. When I was little I was always doing arty stuff and I didn’t really know what a graphic designer was until I finished high school, but I always knew that I wanted to do something arty. Then I found out that you could make money by doing design instead of just straight visual art and it was pretty perfect.

JG: So as a kid did you draw a lot?

GP: Yes. I was always making weird stuff and had ridiculous amounts of stationery and textas and stuff like that.

JG: What was your favourite medium as a kid?

GP: Pretty much the same stuff that I work with now – markers and textas…

JG: Your Mac?

GP: Haha…and my Mac. I remember getting in trouble so clearly. Once, in Kindergarten, the teacher gave us a worksheet that we had to colour in and I got into trouble for doing the wrong thing and colouring outside the lines and using the wrong things like bright coloured textas when we were only allowed to use pencil. And it was just like, ‘Nup. Rulebook not for me, I’m just going to do what I want and I don’t want to be in the lines, lady’.

JG: Young and rebellious! Can you tell me a bit about the design you do now for work, with Debaser, and the design you do for fun? Is there a clear distinction between the two?

GP: No, not really. Only in that the stuff I do for work, well, I’d never really worked in a commercial way before. As soon as I finished uni I was doing freelance jobs here and there, but before working in a studio I never had to get stuff to a really finished stage – so getting stuff to production and doing massive jobs that get a million copies printed, that was different.

But where I work I’m actually really lucky because I can integrate my own style because it’s all for the music industry, so a lot of it is really creative and because we don’t do anything corporate like reports or anything like that, it’s all pretty arty, kinda fun stuff. A lot of the time I do get to do the stuff I like – like illustration and colouring-in and drawing and combining them. So there’s not really that much of a distinction. Only that my freelance is probably more purely illustration and then my fulltime job is more of the design.

JG: Your creative output takes many different forms – you dabble in a few different realms – illustration, typography, photography etc. and you’re quite prolific! Do you have a favourite way to work and can you tell me a bit about your process?

GP: It’s kind of weird because I don’t really see the work I do as work, so I do so much different stuff all the time because it’s just kind of…me…living?

JG: Just living my life, man!

GP: Yeah! I’m just living my life! No, I did go to design school but I kind of thought this way before then. I guess it’s like a part of your brain that’s always turned on once you tap into it. So I constantly see new ideas and I think of new things to do all the time. Once that design part of my brain has been activated it’s permanently on. I guess that’s why I always move into different areas and mediums, because I’m always experimenting and thinking of new things I want to try out. Doing what I do, it’s really good because you can always combine everything and I don’t have to purely be an illustrator and I don’t have to purely be a designer. It’s good to be able to do everything.

JG: And what about your process – when you get a new project where do you begin?

GP: It depends what it is. Especially with my fulltime work, it starts with meeting bands or chatting with a client about stuff they really love or stuff they really hate; then visual stuff, like researching on the Internet and looking at shitloads of books. I guess a basic process is kind of the same for each project – you’ll start researching in some way or another and that’s a good part of it too because you could get a new project and all of a sudden you’re looking into stuff and learning stuff about an area you’d never even thought about before.

I recently did this illustration job for this Indian festival and all of a sudden I had to start researching Indian culture and the way things are celebrated there and it was really amazing – but the day before I’d never even thought about it.

JG: Did you see the colour festival? It’s really cool.

GP: Yeah! Isn’t it amazing? I love it because you’ll get a phone call or an email and then you’re put on this new path of looking into something that you’ve never even really thought about before. You don’t know what the next job’s going to be or who’s going to call, so it’s really cool because your path is always being pushed in different directions.

JG: Do you have a favourite topic, subject or theme that you’re exploring at the moment?

GP: Not really. My favourite stuff like that is pretty constant. I like old children’s books and I like really minimal, flat shapes and colours – I don’t really like texture very much.

JG: For the MCA zine fair I saw you working on some zines featuring cute foodstuffs and little characters – do you have a favourite thing to depict?

GP: Oh yeah – like something I’m drawing heaps at the moment? I’m pretty into drawing food at the moment. I’d like to do a recipe book or something similar with someone. I made a zine about junk food – yeah, it’s weird, I don’t know – why did I do that? I’m into junk food and drawing hot dogs and shit like that at the moment. If I’m doodling when I’m on the phone, that’s probably what I’m drawing. It’s weird. Hot dogs, kittens – whatever has come into my life at that point.

JG: It seems to be mainly fun stuff, which is nice.

GP: Yeah. I don’t know, a lot of people say that. I mean I also like to use every colour, all the time. I like minimal Swiss-style design and simplistic stuff, but I like using shitloads of colours. I’m kind of taking that minimal approach but flipping it a bit.

JG: Maxing it out when it comes to the colour?

GP: Yeah, just like I wasn’t meant to in Kindergarten when I got told off. I like stuff to be bright and happy and I don’t like serious stuff really…at all.

JG: Is that a conscious decision or do you just find yourself all of a sudden drawing hot dogs and ice creams and thinking, ‘oh well, I’m doing it again…’?

GP: Yeah! No, it’s not conscious. I don’t know…I’m not a very serious person and I feel like there’s already enough boring, serious stuff in the world and I’d rather just make stuff that’s fun and cute.

JG: So you mentioned that you’d be interested in collaborating on a cookbook. Other than that, what would be your ultimate project?

GP: Well, doing the mural that I’m about to do is pretty ultimate. I’ve never really done anything at that kind of scale before and something that’s so…it’s just out there in the world. I mean, I do drawings and I have a blog and I work for music artists, but I don’t feel like they have the ability to reach the amount of people that a mural would because a mural is something that’s permanently out there in the world, and people will be walking past it.

JG: That was the result of a council grant, right?

GP: Yeah it’s City of Sydney – part of Art and About. So they commission artists every year and give them spots around the city to put things.

JG: Can we reveal the location?

GP: Yeah, it’s not going to be up until later, but it’s Nithsdale Lane in Surry Hills. It’s pretty tucked away but that’s kind of cool. It will be quite a surprise for people I think, because it’s going to be really full-on and bright and it’s kind of a dingy area that I never really knew was there!

JG: Any hot dogs?

GP: No! There’s no hot dogs in there but there will be other cute stuff!

JG: Awesome. So what else are you working on at the moment?

GP: I’m into collage and cutting instead of drawing. So cutting out shapes to make images. Henri Matisse had this theory – I think it was actually called ‘cutting as drawing’ – but he did what is just about my favourite piece of art of all time, The Snail. It’s about 4 metres by 4 metres and has these massive squares of paper arranged into this coil, which is this beautiful, really simple snail.

It’s in the Tate in London. I saw it when I was over there and it totally changed my outlook on making stuff. Assembling stuff into shapes instead of drawing shapes. I am kind of doing that more in my practice at the moment.

JG: You’re involved in a show for Sydney Design Week – can you tell me about that?

GP: Yeah. That’s on Wednesday. It’s called ‘A Touch of Class’. I think the whole theme for Sydney Design Week is about old being new again, so the girls who started this really cool blog called ‘Tough Titties’ asked me to take part. They’re really awesome and they promote females in the design industry because it can be a total boys club – I work with two dudes, all the photographers we get in are dudes, all the freelancers we get in are dudes, retouchers are always dudes – and before these guys, in Sydney I didn’t feel like there was much of an avenue to promote females doing design and other cool stuff.

So it’s really awesome that they’ve started it and they’ll be doing more exhibitions and artist interviews and stuff. This exhibition is about twenty female artists and it’s really going to be good because I like being given an item and just seeing what people do with it. I like going to exhibitions like that where everyone has the same starting point.

JG: And that was a doily, right?

GP: Yes – a giant doily!

You can catch Georgia Perry at A Touch of Class Somedays Gallery, 72B Fitzroy St, Surry Hills. Launch this Wednesday August 3 from 6pm.

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