regional roundup

regional roundup: brisbane

by anne

it’s our third week focusing on australia and our latest regional roundup focuses on brisbane, australia’s third most populous city. today’s line up stars tiel seivl-keevers {tsk-tsk}, mel robson, jason grant {inkahoots}, tiffany shafran, and alex tebb. we’ll be back tomorrow with our final australian roundup so be sure to check back, but in the meantime, click here to check out today’s designers (there are many more below the fold). [thanks again to all the fabulous designers! all the roundups can be found here.]anne

[aussie porcelain above by mel robson. check out her feature below]


1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I’m from Australia. I have lived in many different cities here, but I’m currently living in Brisbane, Queensland.

2. Describe your work
Most of my work is illustrative. I create original artworks or limited edition prints for children and grown ups. I’m exploring a range of themes including matryoshka dolls, birds, flora and fauna.
My works are mostly small in scale so I can finish them!
3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
I live in a warmer climate so the outdoor lifestyle does influence my work. I pay attention to the wildlife around me, particularly the birds and I enjoy the colours of where I live. Brisbane is a very light and sunny place.  I’m very close to the ocean and some of Australia’s best beaches, but it is the trees and hills that I feel closest to. I often pick up leaves and pods on walks and take them home to study.
4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
Melbourne. It is home away from home for me. I lived there on several occasions and it is so full of life. Art, craft, design, good food. But locally I enjoy being in a park near the river, or going to a few suburbs here that have hidden shopping treasures. Also the gallery of modern art has a continual range of exhibitions and displays catered for all ages. It is such an amazing space.

5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
I think here we are influenced so much by so many different cultures and countries. We then somehow take bits of pieces from that, combine them with our surroundings and it becomes quite unique to anything else. There are so many good Australian designers who have emerged over the last 10 years and I really get a sense that a lot more quality design is about to bloom..
6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Today, somewhere a little warmer like Fiji! But I really am keen to go to Japan. The history, design and food really interests me.

Check out more of Tiel’s work here and her blog here.

Mel Robson

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I grew up in a little town called Murwillumbah (which means place of many possums!!), but I now live in Brisbane (right in the middle of the east coast of Australia) and have been based here on and off for the last 15 years or so.
2. Describe your work
I make objects from porcelain. I design and hand make ranges of functional and decorative objects for the home, as well as limited edition and one-off exhibition works. I use a lot of text and imagery on my pieces which I draw from a whole array of sources – old letters, wallpaper, photographs, maps, recipes, sewing patterns, excerpts from old books and magazines etc. I take lots of old things and work them in to new ones.

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
I’m probably influenced more by the built environment rather than the natural environment – the architecture, the buildings and houses. Brisbane has grown a lot in the last decade and is a real mish mash of old and new. This doesn’t always work so well but there are little pockets where the old and the new sit comfortably, even beautifully, together.  I like this. Its something I try to achieve in my own work – weaving together the past and the present, integrating them.

4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
I find that I get most of my best ideas while I’m walking. I like to go hiking, so our national parks are pretty inspiring for me. There is nothing like wandering along deserted trails for clearing the mind and making space for new ideas. At the moment though I walk mostly around my local area, which is an old area of Brisbane filled with charming houses and shops full of character (and characters)!

5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
I think Australian designers have a good sense of humour and often approach design with a sense of playfulness and wit. We are good at sarcasm and laughing at ourselves and I think this is often reflected in the work of our artists, craftspeople and designers.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Hmmmmm…..where wouldn’t I go?! I’d like to spend more time in Europe, particularly the Scandinavian countries.

More of Mel’s work here, and her website (under construction) here.


1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I was born in New Zealand and now live in sunny Brisbane, Australia.

2. Describe your work
I’m part of design group Inkahoots that includes Robyn McDonald, Ben Mangan, Joel Booy and Kate Booy. Rather than privilege market agendas of commodification, the studio promotes visual communication as an important tool of cultural critique and transformation. The work is visually adventurous with a strong typographic focus, and aims to be daring and searching, not for the sake of newness, but to give expression to a changing society.

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
For a long time Brisbane was a politically oppressive and culturally conservative place you needed to escape. So it bred a resilient underground oppositional culture that continues to influence the city. The rainforests, bush, and beaches around Brisbane are incredible. And the scale and pace of the city makes it both a great place for work and play, and for playful work.

4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
I’m not so comfortable with the idea of chasing inspiration.

5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
If it were a super hero it would be one of those characters with random control over their super-human powers.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?

Click here for more by Inkahoots.

Tiffany Shafran

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I was born in California and grew up living between Australia and the US with a short but influential stay in Japan. I recently moved from Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane to live in Toowoomba which is a regional town in Queensland. I am a fairly restless person and I like to move somewhere new every few years.
2. Describe your work
I would describe my work as subtly emotional. I am interested in enduring beauty through the depiction of stillness, absence and a bit of the macabre.
Two staples of my work are paper and gouache and I also utilize traditional dressmaking and textile materials. I am interested in the play between cotton paper and cotton thread.

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
I depict a lot of animals and found objects within my work especially old textiles. Toowoomba is this interesting mix of farmers, old money and the bush so I have access to authentic and interesting resources for my work.
Every time I move somewhere new I am always influenced by the landscapes, architecture, culture and artists of that place. I would say that mainly my inspiration comes from a mix of my American and Australian heritage but I am always drawn to a certain type of aesthetic.
4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
I am currently inspired by Toowoomba, but I love going on adventures throughout the Australian landscape. I like being in the middle of nowhere with nothing but the sky and the environment to keep you company. I also love going to Melbourne – there is so much going on in the arts there and the shops are really quirky.

5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
Fun, innovative and well-crafted. Australia is a relatively new culture (some would say we don’t have a culture) so we make a point of being aware about what is happening in the rest of the world. But on the flip side Australian designers are able to be less restricted by cultural history and aesthetics.
6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
That’s a tough question….how much time do I have. Right now I would like to go see the giant Sequoia trees in California and then I would like to travel through Russia and Eastern Europe. I would especially like to experience the summer in St. Petersburg where the sun doesn’t set. I would also like to see the Aurora Borealis.

Click here for more of Tiffany’s work.

Alex Tebb

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I’m from the Gold Coast, but now I live half way between the Gold Coast and Brisbane. So, I have easy access to both, but don’t have to deal with the traffic of either!

2. Describe your work
Currently I’m hooked on animals. I love trying to portray their individual personalities, and finding the expressions on their faces that you might otherwise miss. Throw in the odd cool plant that catches my eye, and that pretty much sums up my current body of work. I’m also having fun experimenting with backgrounds. I try to match the animal to the new, colourful, graphic surroundings that I create for them.
3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
A lot of the Australian animals and plants that I have drawn, I have just found in my own backyard. I have never lived on a large block before, and though I have been here for nearly a year now, the novelty has still not worn off! Also, being close to Brisbane, I find myself visiting more and more art exhibitions, especially in Fortitude Valley. There’s just such a mix of all sorts of art and design, that you can’t help but be motivated to throw yourself into your own artwork. There’s no boundary. You can experiment and create your own style, without having to fit into any certain box.
4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
I used to like to take a slow walk through the mall when it wasn’t too busy. There’s always such an overload of colour, pattern, and countless designs, that whatever creative block I might have been experiencing was sure to get knocked right out of me. But where I live now, just a little out of the suburbs, it’s all about open space. There’s so much sky, and some really gorgeous old trees, that I never get tired of. Now I find that I feel more inspired when I’m in this uninterrupted space. I love being able to see a storm rolling in, and the ideas just start rolling in too, since they are no longer being squashed by the distractions that I was used to.

I also love finding new parks to walk through, or interesting streets, to look at the different colours and textures. I think I annoy the dog because I am always stopping to look at something, so he doesn’t get to keep powering along! I even like to just do a lap of the backyard, for a quick refresher. I think it’s a mindset for me. Once you really open your eyes to it, it seems like you can see a piece of artwork in anything.
5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
Growing! There seems to be more opportunities and events to be involved in every year, and it’s pretty exciting. My list of Australian artists and designers that I admire grows by the week. At the end of August there will be the first BARI Fest (Brisbane Artist Run Initiatives Festival). There will be over 90 artists exhibiting in three galleries, and with so much to see – I can’t wait!

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Canada. Of course I am only going by the pictures that I’ve seen, but it’s definitely at the top of my list. I’ve wanted to go for years, so maybe I’ll get there in the next few.

Click here for more of Alex’s work, and check out more in her Etsy shop.

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