Today we cross the ditch to chat with Grayson Davis a Sydney based kiwi multi-disciplined designer, who specialises in visually representing brands through the magic of story and craft. Grayson shares personal insight on collaboration – being part of a team – diversity, access and universal design in contemporary creative practice, and his phenomenal (after-hours) illustrative work which has huge momentum.
Was there someone (or something) that inspired you to pick design as a career path?
I was always years behind in reading and spelling, I sucked at maths and don’t mention PE. So naturally, in school, I found myself with only one place to go, the arts department.
When I really found my zone of creativity in graphic design, suddenly I wasn’t the person who needed help but I was the one who was giving help. There was an overwhelming sense of understanding and belonging. A passion for graphic design emerged.
Can you tell us about your creative journey so far?
After 5 years as a Senior Creative in New Zealand, I started to notice that I was way too comfortable in my work and life. This went on for some time and one day I said “f*** it, I’m moving to Melbourne!”
I was lucky enough to get into freelance work for multiple brands and agencies. But freelancing wasn’t all it cracked up to be. Keeping your creative momentum and your sanity going was a daily must as a freelancer. I soon found myself yearned to be part of a team that takes the creative industry even more seriously than I do.
After trying my luck in Sydney and continuing the grind in freelancing I found them (or rather they found me). I secured a job as a senior designer at Dave Clark Design with an extraordinary team and clients. Through my experience freelancing I discovered what I really care about – Team.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
From doing 10 minutes a night to now doing 4 hours a night my illustration work is what I’m most proud of. The biggest lesson from this process; It’s never too late to learn a new skill.
How has your lived experience of disability strengthened or enhanced your practice?
I wouldn’t know. I was born disabled. Yes, I had to learn and figure out the world in a slightly different way, but it’s all I’ve ever known. I think people who are different are naturally creative. With a different perspective and way of living differences in their creative expression is inevitable.
What does good universal design look like to you?
In branding and advertising, there should always follow the rule of human truth. if what you’re showing makes the viewer feel shit by feeding them a fabricated idea of happiness, beauty or success, then it shouldn’t exist. In a nutshell, great design is the sense of belonging, regardless if it’s a brand or a beautifully designed chair.
How do you see the impact of bad design on people’s ability to participate in society?
Bad design stalls progress, creates exclusion and bad design is like leaving someone out of a conversation in society.
What are some of the key considerations designers should focus on to make their work more inclusive?
It’s often seen to put people of difference on a pedestal, as inspirational figures if you like. But, we’re just people, we’re all the same – normal people. Treat everyone as equals and design will be better.
How might the design community (& our studios) become more accessible and inclusive?
The creative industry is one of the few industries that already encourages diversity really well. It’s in an agency’s best interest to be surrendered with people who think and work differently and the creative industry is the perfect place for that.
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