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Jason Cesani of Printink Studio

Studio Visit

25th March, 2011
Lucy Feagins
Friday 25th March 2011

Bespoke wallpaper designs by  Tinker / Printink Studio in North Melbourne

Tinker by Printink soft furnishings range, photographed by Paul Barbera

Printink studio in North Melbourne - photographs courtesy by Paul Barbera / Where They Create.

Today is a bit of a first.  My somewhat sporadic column in The Age Melbourne Magazine is BACK today after a bit of a hiatus (Angus Holland was very apologetic - he's had a lot of content shuffling to deal with in the past few months!).  To mark this auspicious occasion, and to make the most of this wonderful ongoing opportunity to promote local design in an actual NEWSPAPER (amazing!), I have decided to do my best to link The Design Files' interview content once a month with my Melbourne Magazine page!  How brilliantly organised is that?  We'll see how long it lasts.

If you already have The Age, perhaps you will have spotted the 'Printed Matter' story, which rounds up the very best in locally printed design!  Of course many of the studios mentioned will be familiar to you guys - Spacecraft, Ink & Spindle, Bonnie and Neil... and the very talented peeps at Printink, who design and print the Tinker homewares and wallpaper range!

It was kind of hard to find someone in this mix who I hadn't already interviewed (Stewart Russell - tick, Ink & Spindle - tick), but then it hit me - JASON CESANI - the perfect candidate!  In actual fact, this interview really is very long overdue... I met Jason last year when he took on a custom and somewhat mind-bending large scale print job for me... and it was then that I realised just how brilliantly talented and experienced he and the Printink team truly are.

Printink is run by Jason and fellow print lovers Nadia Husiak and Lisa Carroll, who met many moons ago while studying textile design at RMIT.  They offer a completely bespoke printing service for custom one-off printing, and in fact they print for many fab local designers you probably know such as Aunty Cookie and CastleTinker is their own range of beautiful homewares, which can be purchased from their website and stockists Australia-wide.

Like pretty much every local creative I seem to meet these days, in addition to being extremely talented, Jason is also exceptionally NICE.  Truly.  So sweet and patient.  I've found myself dashing in to Printink's North Melbourne studio on more than one occasion with some flustered last minute request, and he's always so chilled and helpful and kind of zen about every challenge he's ever faced with!   It's very much appreciated by all you work with Jason!

ps) special thanks to super talented photographer Paul Barbera, for allowing me to share some of his shots of the Printink studio.  For many more beautiful shots please pop over to Where They Create.

Tell me a little about your background – what path led you to textiles originally, and to starting Printink and then Tinker?

I have always been interested in all things to do with ‘art and design’ from a small age. However it wasn’t until after finishing high school and a few varied art and design courses (one in Brisbane and one in Melbourne), that I decided to move from my parents pineapple farm in Qld to Melbourne. It was then, after a year at Brighton Bay, that I narrowed my ‘art and design’ interests down, and I started the BA of Textile Design at RMIT in 2004.

It was the endless creative possibilities that I loved about textile design, and having access to a tactile quality, (being able to touch and feel is a very important creative element for me) -  you could design, draw, mix colours and get your hands dirty. 'Somewhere halfway between fine art and graphic design' is how I used to sum it up.

After finishing uni I worked at a few textile design companies, travelled overseas a few times, and was employed for 5 years at Vixen Australia. In 2006, Printink Studio began with myself and two other partners. It was our collective love of hand screen printed textiles, colour and our design aesthetic that inspired us to join forces and create our business. ‘Tinker’, our own label was then launched over 2 years ago, and has grown from tea towels to a comprehensive range of home wares and finally, our dream - wallpaper!   It was just a natural progression that had to happen.

INCREDIBLE wallpapers by the Printink team!

What have been some favourite projects of collaborations in recent years?

It is always exciting when we get a chance to work on any kind of commission work, where our products, original designs and  custom services are utilised. We offer quite a bespoke design service and are in control of all parts of the printing process, which is hand printed in our studio. This allows us to work quite closely with our clients on many varied requirements, which is especially evident with our wallpapers.  It is always great to see how such an impact and a design statement can be created in an interior or venue, simply by covering the walls with paper. Some past commissions have been Hells Kitchen in the CBD, The Grace Darling on Smith St and the latest being the refurbishment of the Greyhound Hotel in St Kilda.

Custom wallpaper by the Prinkink team for Hell's Kitchen in Melbourne's CBD

Some details from the newly reburbished Greyhound Hotel in St Kilda

How is the business structured? – who are your partners in Printink, and do you guys employ anyone or outsource any significant tasks?

Printink Studio consists of three partners, Lisa Carroll, Nadia Husiak and myself, and the studio operates with just us three. There are some particular areas some of us concentrate more so on, Nadia does all the books, Lisa the website etc, but pretty much everything else is shared between us. However over the last few years we have had some fantastic work experience and interns, who have been so totally awesome and their dedicated time to us, which has been totally appreciated 10 times over.

Jason prints cute baby onesies! Awww.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

As our business is split between the three of us, it allows us to be a bit flexible in our daily operations. Our business is basically a combination of two businesses.  Printink Studio is our hand screen printing service - printing fabrics for a range of clients from fashion designers to one off large scale artworks for artists etc.  Tinker is where we design and print our own range of products and homewares range. So depending on where we are at, what’s on and what dead lines have to be meet, our days are quite varied from day to day, month to month etc. One day, we could be printing a production run, the next developing a new line and range for Tinker and the next setting up for a Trade Show.

What is the best thing about your job?

The best thing about going into the studio everyday is the diversity and the variety of tasks that are covered on a daily basis, which mind you can become quite overwhelming at times.

Tinker is probably the best thing about our job. This is the fundamental reason our business exists, as it gives us the creative ability to design, create and print our own products, fabrics and wallpapers. Being in total control of all of the processes of developing a new range is priceless and in many circumstances, the possibilities are endless.

It also allows us to meet and work with a variety of local people and talented craftsman, whom some of the production of our product range is outsourced to (sewers, upholsterers and other clever people!).

Tinker by Printink soft furnishings range, photographed by Paul Barbera

And the worst?

One of the worst things is giving both sides of the business equal attention, as often when we are busy printing, Tinker can be neglected and vice versa.  Finding the balance to keep both operating smoothly can be quite challenging.

Where do you turn for creative inspiration – travel, local and international design trends, magazines, books or the web etc?

Inspiration can come in many shapes and forms. I love to walk, it gives me space to think and admire the ever changing beauty and ugly that surrounds us in our daily lives; the shade of a tree, powerlines, graffiti, the difference in the seasons etc.

Travel will always play a large part of my inspiration (which has suffered a little of late).  Just being in a foreign city with the all its unfamiliar smells and noises is quite inspiring - then you have the shopping, galleries and food. It is a great way to keep in touch with what is going on in the world.

Also magazines, old books like 1950’s illustration kids books and encycopedias, the web, blogs etc are always an endless source of inspiration.

Tinker by Printink products photographed by Paul Barbera

Which other designers / creative people do you admire?

Hmmm… I seem to have an aspiration and drawn to UK designers!!!!!

Timorous Beasties, for their surreal and provocative textiles and wallpapers. I love their toile collections of Glasgow and London and the humour and reality they have. It has always inspired me to do a Melbourne one… one day!!

Eley Kishimoto, for their design aesthetic and also their ability to work with many design disciplines. From designing current womenswear fashion collections, to working alongside wallpapers, furniture, furniture fabrics, glassware, crockery and more.

Catherine Hammerton, I love her very bespoke and clever use of creating 3D sculptural wallpapers. Also her textiles and ceramics are beautiful.

Robin and Lucienne Day, a design duo who were acclaimed for their pioneering achievements, where they transformed British design after the second world war. Robin Day was a furniture designer and his wife Lucienne, a textile designer. They both revitalised how we use furniture and textiles today and they are always a source of great inspiration.

What would be your dream creative project?

A dream project would be one which encapsulates all aspects of what we can achieve and produce at Printink Studio. An international or local hotel with a themed interior would be ideal - and the more quirky, the better!  Each room would see us working on various designs to suit the required looks.  Humour would need to play a big part, and the more bespoke and wacky the better. We could create everything from printed fabrics, exploring tactile qualities for soft furnishings, wallpapers, fabric wall hangings, custom furniture etc.

What are you looking forward to?

Escaping the Melbourne winter and heading to a Malaysian beach and Vietnam in June

Melbourne Questions -

Your favourite Melbourne Neighbourhood and why?

East Melbourne, as it is where I currently live and I am close to so many things I love and everything is just a 10 minute walk or less away……. Fitzroy Gardens is a must, you can lie on the rug and pretend that it’s your own background (something that is missing from our apartment); Victoria St, Richmond a must for a cheap outing and a feed off mud crab with chilli and ginger; Gertrude St and the top end of Smith St, great food and pubs and there is always something new opening; and off course the CBD, just because it is close and it’s the city.

Where do you shop for the tools of your trade in Melbourne?

We work closely with a lot of local suppliers, small and large, Jones Bros Technology for all our screen supplies, All Australian for inks, Kraftkolour for our more specialised dye stuff needs and our fabrics are sourced from suppliers, such as Warwick and beyond.

What and where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

Momotaro Rahmen Restaurant on Bridge Rd Richmond. I am sure it has been there forever, however I’m a bit of a newcomer and was only introduced to it the other week by a close friend. But in saying that, watch out, I am their new regular.   Cheap and full of flavour, plus the servings are huge and for $12 bucks, you cant ask for anything more from this no fuss eatery.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Gleadell Street Market in Richmond - it is a fantastic produce market selling fresh fruit and vegetables, along with great breads, nuts etc. It is open from 7am – 12.30pm, and is outdoors, so it is stroll away with the trolley in tow.  Such a great way to spend the morning, pottering up the crowded street, buying the produce for the week. Plus we love to cook, so having food in the house is a must. So in saying that, it has become a nearly essential saturday morning ritual.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

The Veneto Club in Bulleen for their Saturday night dinner dances. I wouldn’t say I am a regular, but I have done a few and they are so much fun. It is a great way to organise a group of friends together, head off to Bulleen in a maxi taxi, eat saltimbocca romana and then dance the night away to some Italian Classics. The bands are always great and how can you resist ‘the chain’ dance, holding onto strangers butts and dancing around the dance floor. Reminds me of all of those childhood weddings I had to go to.

Printink HQ. Jason dealing with some crazy customer or stylist on the phone.  Probably me.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email