Tin&Ed are Melbourne Famous.
They are so famous they don’t even need surnames.
This prolific young graphic design duo are based in Melbourne’s much-loved Nicholas Building… and their shared moniker seems to pop up on almost every kooky design project this city has to offer. Clients over the past couple of years have included Crumpler, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Three Thousand, The Thousand Shop, as well as big name brands such as Nike and Visa. Tin&Ed are also partly responsible for that famous ball of wool campaign for Tourism Victoria a couple of years back…. (They made those giant ‘wool’ sculptures!) SO brilliant! And so versatile for a graphic design company!
It seems versatility is the name of the game over at Tin&Ed HQ – these days a typical day could include anything from props making to illustration, motion graphics to installation… no job seems too peculiar for this multi-talented pair. Aside from the incredible variety, I just love the sense of humour inherent in most of their work – they really seem to approach each new brief with a unique and very wacky sensibility… a Tin&Ed project just wouldn’t be a Tin&Ed project if it took itself too seriously!
Huge thanks to these very busy boys for taking time out for this interview …because it sure is hard work being Melbourne famous!
(for the record, Tin&Ed did start life with surnames. Tin’s is Nguyen, and Ed’s is Cutting.)
Tell me a little about your backgrounds – how did you meet, and what path led you to setting you your business and doing what you’re doing now?
We both met during our first year of design school and have been working together ever since. We worked on a lot of outside projects together whilst we were at uni and when we finished we got a job to design the identity for the Next Wave Festival which is a youth arts festival here in Melbourne. They gave us a little corner of their office to work from and we got to meet a lot of interesting and creative people, we were very quickly immersed into the creative community in Melbourne and everything just happened from there.
The type of work that we do has definitely evolved a lot over years. Illustration and design will always be a large part of what we do because it’s how we got our start, but recently we’ve been creating more sculptures and installations, we’re also working a lot more with photography and motion which has been a lot of fun.
Where might we have seen your work? What have been some favourite clients / projects in recent years?
We’ve worked for lots of different types of clients, so I guess you can see our work in a lot of different places. We do a quite a bit of work for advertising agencies and in the past year we’ve worked for companies like Nike, MTV, Visa and American Express, a lot of our agency work goes through our very awesome illustration agent Jacky Winter.
Our first solo show last year at Lamington Drive was definitely one of the favourite things we’ve done in past few years as well as our collaboration with Amsterdam based Artist Lucy McRae. We’ve done some installation stuff with Vice recently which has also been really fun, what else… the fabric collaboration with Melbourne label TV… we’ve probably got too many favourite projects to name, let’s say all of them :) We’ve just finished a project for the Melbourne International Arts Festival in collaboration with ‘Supple Fox’ which we are really excited about. You’ll be able to see that stuff in the festival guide, on posters around town and at the Forum theatre in October.
How would you describe the Tin & Ed design aesthetic?
We get bored really easily and I guess our design aesthetic is dictated a lot by this. We like to work in a lot of different mediums, using different processes. We like to put ourselves into situations where we have no idea what we’re doing. Our style is very much a result of this process, we don’t really make a conscious effort to cultivate a specific design aesthetic… i think it’s something that just happens.
At the moment we are really interested in spontaneity and cultivating ideas that allow for accidents. It’s an interesting way of creating connections between seemingly unrelated things.
Our work tries to communicate with people on a more subconscious level, we don’t want people to understand everything right away, it’s more about multiple levels of meaning rather then a singular and direct message. Not sure if this answers the question at all :) we find it difficult to talk about the aesthetic of our work because for us the concept and the process is more important.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
It really depends on what we are working on. We are usually juggling a few projects at any one time so generally we will work on whatever is most pressing. Most of our days are really different so it’s hard to say, some days we’ll spend drawing, other days we’ll be on site or running around trying to find materials, we spend a lot of time in front of the computer as well, it’s constantly changing.
How is your business structured..? Do you employ other designers or work regularly with collaborators? Who takes care of the boring ‘business’ side of things?
for the most part it’s just the two of us, if we have a big job like the Visa – Go installation, we’ll bring in freelancers or friends to help us out. We also like collaborating with people, so even though it’s just the two of us, for some jobs we will be working with other people to complete the project. We have a financial and business adviser who has been helping us get the ‘business’ side of things in order :)
Where do you turn for creative inspiration – travel, local and international design trends, magazines, books or the web etc?
All of the above, plus hanging out having conversations with our friends.
Which other designers or creative people do you admire?
Waaayy too many to name! lets see, Annette Messager, Alejandro Jodorowsky,Terence Koh, Olufur Eliasson, Bernhard Willhelm, Yayoi Kusama, Tibor & Maira Kalman, Jean-Paul Goude, Claes Oldenburg, Bruce Nauman, Alexander Calder, Rei Kawakubo, Jun Takahasi, Milton Glaser, Shigeo Fukuda, Peter Saville, Stefan Sagmeister, Mike Mills, Michel Gondry etc….
What would be your dream creative project?
We’d love to do an ongoing project where we regularly collaborate with different people to create objects and products, etc. something different every time. We’d really love to do some stationary or crockery or some sort of knit, anyone interested in collaborating should contact us!
What are you looking forward to?
We’ve got a lot of exhibitions coming up later this year, one of which will be part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival in October which is really exciting. We’ve also got a couple of solo shows at the end of the year, one at ‘Somedays’ in Sydney and ‘Somewhere’ in Melbourne and a group show at Object Gallery in Sydney.
Also Barcelona Berlin and London in August!
Melbourne Questions –
Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?
Tin: Not sure if it’s even part of greater Melbourne, but sassafras in the Dandenongs – Devonshire tea and nature!
Ed: For a holiday – Footscray because it feels like another place
For the rest of the time – North Fitzroy because it’s green and relaxed and its where I live.
Your favourite bookshop in Melbourne for reference books / publications?
What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?
Tin: Peking duck at Old Kingdom on Smith Street!
Ed: Osso Bucco at Gerald’s on Rathdowne street.
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
Melbourne’s best kept secret?
Native American poncho stand at the vic markets! they have a selection of both the best and worst poncho’s you’ve ever seen!