Flair |fler| 1. A special or instinctive aptitude or ability for doing something well.
The beauty of Twitter can link you through a chain of events and discovery, hence how I stumbled upon Tess and her fun-spirited work. There's something about the energy she puts into her projects that got me hooked on her aesthetic. Plus, I love the fact she uses her little one into some of her fun pieces :)
In a few sentences, describe yourself and what you do.
I'm Tess. A firm believer that there is beauty in just about anything. Creativity is without boundaries and my passion is exploring the freedom of visual design, and digging my hands into all things creative. I love the vulnerability of dreaming big within a strategy to achieve the unexpected and expand the vision of what is possible.
Growing up as a dancer and designer, I found my Prince Charming before trading the calm coastal town of Mollymook for a slightly quicker pace on Sydney's Northern beaches. This move was preemptive of the life our little family is now leading – one full of wonder, adventure, and crazy untapped opportunities.
Although I have a graphic design qualification from KVB Institute to my name, I don’t consider this a defining feature of how I work, and particularly how I feel about the creative process. I believe that the way we begin our day determines the kind of day we will have, and that our creativity is explored through our daily processes – starting with the small things, evolving into greater things. The making of the bed, the morning coffee ritual, the daily newspaper – there is beauty in the routine.
I love my life and I love what I do. Whether it be branding, styling, digital, print, production or concepts – the creative process and all its elements fascinate and excite me. I am committed to moving from strength to strength with a sense of honest openness and enough edge to constantly refine my skills as a designer and creator.
How did you first get into design + styling? What’s your favorite part about it?
I actually stumbled my way into design. I think I have been designing since I was 4 years old. It started with my OCD nature of re-arranging and designing my room immaculately as a child. Then it found me training as a choreographer where I would design and create dance pieces with hidden stories…. My love for dance found me lurking in the production side of dance, and creating the monthly dance newsletters with a lot of attention to detail and carefully selecting fonts.
Ironically, a massive multi-million dollar design school opened up across the road from our dance studio. A German Lad by the name of Karl Von Busse decided to bring a taste of Sydney design education to our humble little town. I was so curious about it; the building looked so sparkly and pretty, just plain-right-wow! So one afternoon I paid a visit and it was ... AMAZING! I immediately thought and inner declared; I am going to study here. And that I did.
I didn’t really know the extent of what I was about to study, and at that point didn’t really know what graphic design was but it felt super exciting and I had constant butterflies at the thought of learning something new. I’ll never forget my first day in class sitting in front of a massive shiny large screen Mac computer in a crispy white design classroom, relishing every word that came out of the lecturers mouth. I actually wanted to stand up, dance, and shout “ YOU SPEAK MY LANGUAGE!” “I UNDERSTAND!” “THIS MAKES SENSE!” Something in me connected with every word he was saying and I knew instantly that I was in the right place. I learnt that graphic design was so much more than making a logo, and that it was basically a tool kit of skills that would allow me to communicate visually. For me this was the most freeing and liberating experience ever! Studying design has taken away so much inner frustration, and allowed me to creatively articulate things.
Do you have any creative heroes that you admire & have inspired you? Who & How?
I have so may creative heroes! I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many people that are uber creative and also happen to be some of my closest friends. I can’t name them all! I have friends that are writers, film makers, videographers, photographers, furniture makers, stylists and fashion gurus. Such a high calibre of creatives in my circle! I'm daily challenged and encouraged by each of them. I’m also married to a stuntman. My husband is one of my biggest inspirations - he chased his dream and is actually doing it!!!!
What is your favorite piece of work you have done and why?
The work I am most proud of is a collaborative project that my sister and I conceptualised called “The Pattern Project” - It’s a project that has become bigger than Ben Hur. Combining the creative forces of some of my favourite creatives - Sharee Gray (Fashion Designer, stylist + founder of the fray Girls) Jacob Leung (Food Legend, stylist, creator), Amanda Jones (Film Maker, stylist and part-time model), Alex Carlyle (Photographer), Rachel Allan (Contemporary floral designer). Together we have created a four part series where the food matches the fashion. It’s so much fun, and the results are always rewarding!
What’s it like designing in Australia? Do you gather most of your inspiration from your surroundings?
I have just recently moved interstate to the Gold Coast after living in Sydney for 3 years. The hardest thing about leaving Sydney was leaving the creative culture and the abundance of creative people. I am actually without words to describe what’s going on in Sydney - it’s basically out of this world! My current task is to search for the creative gold here on the Gold Coast. Where that is - I'm yet to find out.
Describe a normal workday for you.
The thing I love most about my workday is that it’s completely fluid! My week has no rules, no boundaries - it’s mine to do what I wish with it! I usually take mondays off to chill with my little 2 year-old girl, Peaches. Monday nights I check my email and make a plan for the week...Then it’s all systems go.
I don’t usually start any design work until about 11am after my morning beach peruse and coffee. My weeks never look the same, and my days are never a repeat of the one before. I’m living my creative dream!
You are a very successful freelance designer, any advice for those wanting to follow in your footsteps?
There is never a good time to go freelance. You just gotta step out and do it! One job will create the next. If you love what you do, do it with passion. Before you know it, you will be paying your rent doing what you love. I pinch myself somedays- freelance is a dream!
Do you have a dream/goal that you wish to aspire?
I have a zillion dreams, but if we are talking about creative dreams my vision is simple - I’d love to travel around the world creatively. To one day have a large creative space with lot’s of natural light with an all-welcome open door policy! Anyone can come, pull up a chair, and create. I love to collaborate, it’s my muse - people inspire me and spur me, so to have a space in my home large enough for a dozen people or more would be a dream!…. Either way, I feel blessed enough to say I'm currently living the creative dream I always hoped for. After all, my creativity pays the rent! It’s simple, but Im creatively satisfied… for now.
If you could live and work anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
If not Sydney - Los Angeles or New York, purely for the creative culture. If I wasn’t so passionate about design, I’d retire to a tiny little hippy community where people share their vegetables and chase the sun.
Early bird or night owl?
All depends - “Chill Tess” says - early to bed and early to rise, but “Working Tess” says - stay up until you get the job done.