Meet Tanya DeSilva-McKay our Summer guest designer. Being a professional designer she didn’t need any mentoring from me at all. In fact I think she could teach me a thing or too. Her work is so rich, I love how she totally reworked this issue and made it her own with a fresh new look. We’re so pleased to have her as part of the team.
Tell us a little bit about your creative journey?
My creative journey began when I was small where I loved books and illustrations and honestly – stationery! I played with whatever I could get my hands on. Fancy pencils, graphite, textas, fineliners, calligraphy pens, different papers and all the things I could draw a mark and communicate with – admittedly these things make me very happy now!
Design with my Bachelors degree further down the track enabled study in photography, graphics and illustration but I also got to create three-dimensional work where I made objects such as furniture and experimented with different materials. Now, I work as a freelance Art director and designer where I mostly design books, magazines, and other collateral such as logos and digital content.
I also started a digital film postgraduate course doing motion graphics and animation. Over the past several years I have also renovated homes with my husband – so I have drafted plans for kitchens, bathrooms and have staged homes for sale, working in a physical space in the capacity of an interior designer.
Otherwise… I miss using my hands and spend many late nights after my childrens’ bedtime doing more tangible work such as drawing and painting. My journey seems to be one that keeps unfolding which is exciting. I am still not sure where else it will lead but it is all fuelled by curiosity!
Why did you want to become an artist/designer?
I didn’t necessarily set out to become a designer – it was just a drive to pursue creativity and have an outlet which became a career. I just enjoyed seeing an idea come to life that was purposeful and beautiful. Creative communication in all the different mediums such as graphics, motion graphics, drawing and painting are fulfilling and energising.
Did you study art/design?
Yes, I initially studied film and television in a Contemporary Arts stream at University before shifting and graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Design at Monash University. I’ve circled back to further Postgraduate study and I am keen to see where it will lead.
How did you become involved with the hillscene?
I’ve always seen the magazine in my travels and saw the opportunity to be a guest designer and was excited by being involved in a publication that was local and community-driven.
In what ways, if any, do you engage with the hills community?
I engage in the community mainly through my activities with my family and just living here! There are so many things to do and we use as many local businesses and services as we can and spend most of our time on the mountain.
What do you wish you knew about being a designer/artist before you got started?
It is a hard task getting into the industry, you get paid very poorly (especially starting out) and it requires more grit and passion than you feel you can sometimes summon. This is mostly due to doubt you may feel with your abilities and the comparison you have with other very talented people. You need to move beyond it, acknowledge your capabilities, be open to feedback to improve, continue to learn and remain humble.
Being driven by pride is also a good thing in the sense that your name is attached to what you produce. Regardless of how small a job, it’s true value is your work and your attribution, not how much money it made or how much it is seemingly worth to others. It’s valuable and it represents your standard and you.
Also, whatever strikes you as interesting, pay attention to it, and record it as often as you can. I wish I kept a better visual and written record of all my ideas. More importantly, is to not be afraid to explore these ideas sooner rather than later.
Who are your creative heroes?
I have many heroes spanning many different disciplines so the list is extensive… I admire Saul Bass and his clever use of graphics and motion graphics, to current designers such as Chip Kidd and Aaron Draplin. The art of Roy Lichtenstein features on my walls at home and I also love the art and sentiments of Vincent Van Gogh. Elsewhere, I love Wes Anderson films and his distinct style, have a particular obsession with beautiful chairs (particularly those of Hans Wagner and Charles and Ray Eames) and I admit to collecting too many books (if there’s such a thing)… particularly those books with stunning illustrations usually reserved for children. I will eternally adore children’s books – they are so succinct and poetic.
In saying that, I do love whimsical work by Jane Newland, the vivid colours in Clair Bremner’s art and landscapes, to the distinct folk art by Dinara Mirtalipova.
I also admire many colleagues who I have been privileged to work with and learn alongside over the past several years.
What do you enjoy about living in the Dandenong Ranges?
There are so many things to enjoy living up in the Ranges. I love the quiet, community-oriented, open-minded, accepting and friendly community of the hills.
I love the smell of the rain and the fireplaces in the winter, the vibrancy of all the green, the sounds of the kookaburras, the glimpse of the colourful birds in the trees and their little songs, and of Puffing Billy rolling past my house daily. Not to mention the general feeling of comfort and peace of my home and the view every day. Especially on those misty ones, they are truly the best.
Where can people find more information about you?
What are your plans for the future (immediate or long term)?
I intend to keep on making – learning, and learning some more. I’m looking forward to expanding my practise in all the different ways I am compelled to explore. I hope I get better with my craft in whatever direction it goes. I am open to the path unraveling, so for the moment, I will just continue to make.