Whilst we feel it’s our duty to introduce the newest emerging makers and designers across Australia, we’re equally committed to shining a spotlight on those more established local creatives businesses who really have paved the way for the recent resurgence of all things ‘handmade’. Nadia Husiak and Jason Cesani of Printink studio in Collingwood are two such veterans of their craft, having first launched their own design studio back in 2005.
Nadia and Jason studied Textile Design together at RMIT in the 1990s, and later went on to work together at Vixen Australia – which at the time would design and hand screen print all their own textiles. Their time working for this prolific and respected local textile house was a defining time for both Jason and Nadia, extending their combined skill set and giving them a strong understanding of the skills required to run their own design based business.
After working for Vixen for 5 years, Nadia and Jason founded their own design studio in 2005 with a third partner, Lisa Carroll. Now in it’s 9th year of operation, the business is run solely by Nadia and Jason, with a the able assistance of intern-turned-printer Georgie Cummings, and the odd distraction from 1 year old Pietra!
Aside from producing an extensive range of soft furnishings, homewares and wallpaper under their own in house label ‘Tinker’, Printink also offer a bespoke design and printing service, working closely with clients on many varied projects. Past commissions have included custom wallpaper for Hells Kitchen in the CBD and The Grace Darling in Collingwood, to name just a few.
Tell us a little about your background – what did you study, and what led you to creating the style of work you are currently making?
We were both drawn to textile design for various reasons, however there was always a strong mutual passion we both shared – a passion for pattern and surface design. We studied together at RMIT in the mid ’90s, completing our BA’s in Textile Design, majoring in screen print (Jason is now a sessional lecturer at RMIT). Hand screen printing is certainly a niche industry in Australia, and after many years of developing our skills, we are proud of where we are at now, what we are creating and who we are working with.
What led you to starting your own design studio, Printink Studio, back in 2005?
Printink Studio originally began with a partnership of three, all graduates from RMIT’s BA in Textile Design course. After finishing university, we all had the opportunity at different times to work with Georgia Chapman, formerly of Vixen Australia. It was an inspiring environment to work in, everything we did was hand screen printed. It allowed us to gain incredible knowledge of different techniques that helped structure our skill set.
Around the same time, there was a resurgence of the ‘handmade’ that was starting to make a comeback. With our confidence and desire to create something that was our own, we took the plunge and started Printink Studio.
This year saw your studio launch a more extensive range of soft furnishings and bedding under your house label, ‘Tinker’, alongside a comprehensive children range. How would you describe this latest range and your design aesthetic? How long has this range been in development for?
With all our ranges, our mantra is to incorporate a variety of geometric designs and work them back alongside florals. We use a combination of hand drawn elements and motifs to create all-over patterns and then juxtapose them with bold lines and shapes. Colour is a major component and alongside pattern is one of the most important qualities that make up the Tinker brand.
Can you give us a little insight into the inner workings of Printink? How is your office structured, how many people do you employ, and are you still each very involved in the design process day-to-day?
We are now the sole partners at Printink Studio, and we’re also a husband and wife team. Since the arrival of our baby, Pietra (who is 100% involved in the business as well!) Nadia has stepped away from most of the screen printing, and works closely with our wholesalers, dispatch, online sales and general everyday operations of running the business.
Georgie Cummings, who began as our intern many years ago, is now also our screen printer, taking over some of Nadia’s printing responsibilities. Two people are required to screen print yardage fabric, so Georgie works alongside me (Jason) on our day to day operation of printing. Georgie is our number one tea towel printer!
Each day is different in the print studio, either we’re printing commission works for other designers or printing our ‘Tinker’ range, fulfilling orders, printing wallpaper or restocking our online store.
In terms of all the design work, this is all created and shared between us. We work on a theme and then collate each other’s ideas and narrow them down. It’s quite a lengthy process from initial design concept to end product, with lots of colour testing, swatching, trialing different fabric bases etc. This is the beauty of having your own screen printing studio, you can sample, resample and resample again, until you are finally happy.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
Fortunately, there is not a typical day for us, especially when you introduce a one year old into the business. As a small business, we are the face of the business, as well as being the key creatives and printers and decision makers, so juggling our time to meet deadlines for our clients and be the creative force behind Tinker is certainly challenging, but we would not have it any other way. The only ‘typical’ thing you can be assured we do almost every day is hand screen printing.
Can you list for us 5 resources across any media that you turn to regularly for creative inspiration?
Which other local artists, designers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
Sandra Eterovic – She is an illustrator/artist and we love her sense of humour she brings to her work. The sense of colour and objects she chooses to paint on has a fun quirky quality, which inspires us.
Koskela – We are inspired by their consideration of the environment alongside their commitment on working on projects closely together with Australian Aboriginal artists. We like their aesthetic of the other Australian brands they choose for their retail store, and we’re proud to be stocked by them.
Lucy Folk – She is a jeweller and we love her obsession with food, which ironically is an inspiration for a lot of her work. Her bold designs combine kitsch naïveté with subtle humour.
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
There are a number of achievements that we are proud of. Our new recruit, Pietra, our baby daughter, our new website (who knew it would be so much work?) and of course our milestone of reaching 10 years in 2015!
What would be your dream project?
Okay, you said ‘dream’… so here goes. It wold be decking out a multi-storey hotel, collaborating with a favorite architect. We would have complete freedom to create each floor, decorating and designing everything from the walls, floors and all the soft furnishings. There would be no boundaries, it would be an over the top explosion of colour and pattern on pattern.
What are you looking forward to?
Christmas break in Queensland with Jason’s family, and then a summer week off in the New Year in Melbourne.
Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?
We would have to say Collingwood, it’s where our studio is, and a few blocks from our house in East Melbourne. We love that it is a suburb that seems to be always re-inventing itself. It’s the energy and the creative vibe that the suburb offers and we like being part of that.
Where and what was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?
Last night’s salsicce, mash potatoes and a nice bitter salad. Jason’s dad is Italian, each year a group of us head north to keep the traditions alive and make our own sausages. Clearly we practice handmade where we can! The result is 80 kg + of homemade sausages for us to eat all year round.
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
Saturday mornings are always work related, however it never seems a chore. To kick start the morning, we visit our favourite café around the corner from our studio – All Press. They have the best coffee and if we are feeling a bit peckish, their mixed plate of egg, avocado, tomato and provolone with either salmon or prosciutto set the pace for the day. Collingwood is so quiet on the weekends and it’s just great being able to spend a few hours in the studio with the roller door up and no one around, or phones ringing. We believe our most creative work is usually achieved on a Saturday morning.
Melbourne’s best kept secret?
I’m not too sure if it is a big secret as thousands of people go, but for anyone who loves great food and a bit of fun, the annual Lunar Festival Street Party at Victoria St, Richmond is a must. It’s summer, there is Karaoke in tents, dancing, dragons, fire crackers, fried calamari, Vietnamese mini pancakes, BBQ betel leaf, beer, rides, it’s too much fun! Next year it’s on 1 February 2015, see you there.