This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

The Value of Mentors

Quoted

We’re signing off on MAN WEEK for another year, with a few words from four of our favourite creative men, about the importance of positive mentors.

Hailing from diverse disciplines and career stages, sommelier Matt Skinner of The Drinks List, artist Reko Rennie, and the Dowel Jones design duo of Dale Hardiman and Adam Lynch offer up their thoughts on positive roles models – reflecting on those who have significantly influenced their careers, but also how they’re now paying that guidance forward!

2nd September, 2017

Sommelier Matt Skinner of The Drinks List. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Sommelier, author, and founder of The Drinks List, Matt Skinner was only a few weeks into his first full-time job when he met wine consultant and writer, Philip Rich. ‘I definitely wasn’t looking for a mentor back then, but luckily for me, that’s what he became,’ says Matt, who set up Prince Wine Store with Phillip one year after they met, in 1996. ‘Besides having taught me a huge amount about wine, Philip has given me countless opportunities to build on my knowledge and experience.’

Over the decades, Matt notes that their relationship has moved from one of mentoring to one of great friendship. ‘Phillip is still my first port of call whenever I need a sounding board for anything work-related,’ he adds.

To Matt, a mentor is an older, wiser and constant voice helping you to make informed decisions about your career path. He recommends a good place to start looking for one is in your industry – scout out someone that you aspire to be like. ‘If those people aren’t obvious, then you might need to put yourself ‘out there’ in a bid to find out who and where those people are,’ emboldens Matt. ‘Get to know as many industry professionals as you can.’

Melbourne-based artist Reko Rennie. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Some of acclaimed artist Reko Rennie’s most rewarding experiences have been working as a mentor on art projects with young people in Indigenous communities. ‘Just giving a relatively small amount of your time and attention to people who need it can have a big impact on them, and on you,’ he tells.

Reko admits that he didn’t have many positive male role models in his life growing up. ‘Now, as a mentor, I try to be the person that the younger me would have needed to meet – the kind of person who believes in you, even when you doubt yourself.’

Adam Lynch and Dale Hardiman of Dowel Jones. Photo – Annette O’Brien.

For the young designers in their mid-20s, mentors (aka ‘sounding boards’) are valuable for their ability to propose ideas and solutions that you may never have thought of, and to give you honest critical feedback to improve. ‘Most importantly, they have experience which means you can learn from that experience (good and bad) and not make the same mistakes,’ says Adam.

How then does one find a positive mentor (other than café crawling)? ‘Find someone who not only shares an interest in your work, but also shares other common interests, so it’s not always about the work,’ advises Adam, who met his informal design mentor David Stewart at a cafe a couple of years ago. ‘He has given me important business advice and guidance,’ Adam explains.

For Dale, the best mentors don’t necessarily arise from a formal arrangement. He lists designer Ross Gardam and journalist Ben Morgan as being highly influential when he was in his early 20s, at the beginning of his career. ‘They were incredibly generous with their time, helping me to develop as a designer outside of university,’ he tells.

Due to their own formative relationships with role models, the Dowel Jones duo have always been happy to mentor or meet with designers to discuss ideas. They are also currently teaching a studio at RMIT and mentoring furniture designers from the Fringe Furniture Festival. ‘These moments are great for us, as we get to meet new people both in Australia and from overseas,’ says Adam. ‘Mentoring is not only about advising or teaching another, but being self-reflective, and learning from revisiting past experiences,’ Dale adds.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Quoted

Advice on Changing Tack

Annie Abbott of footwear phenomenon Habbot, and Mr Draper’s Alistair Birrell share some tips on plotting a new career course.
Elle Murrell

Quoted

Ideas on Productivity

A new short and snappy series of inspiring quotes from our fave local creatives.
The Design Files

Quoted

Tips on Motivating Teams

We take two minutes with two incredibly accomplished creative professionals: Amanda Henderson of Gloss Creative, and Berry Liberman of Small...
Elle Murrell

This Week

Architecture

A Spacious Renovation That Makes The Most Of Every Inch

Built-in furniture has unlocked the potential of this Victorian home renovation in Fitzroy North by Architecture Architecture.

Stays

A Contemporary Reimagining of Robin Boyd’s Fenner House

Las Palmas by DUO Architects in association with Davis Architects is a Byron Bay hinterland home inspired by the owner's upbringing in Robin...

Architecture

The Australian Architects Designing New Houses For An Affordable Flat Fee

Purchase environmentally-friendly, architectural house plans for an affordable flat fee by new Australian business, Architopia.

News

A Delicious New Book For Living A Kinder, More Gentle Life

Chef Annie Smithers shares wisdom, memories and recipes in her new book, ‘Recipe for a Kinder Life’.

Homes

Poppy Garbin + Scott Gibson Of Pop And Scott’s Dromana Dream Home

The renovated '80s home of Scott Gibson and Poppy Garbin, founders of Pop and Scott.
15.15

Food

Julia's Pillowy Ricotta Tortelli With Butter And Asparagus

It's asparagus season and Julia Busuttil Nishimura has the best pasta recipe for this sweet, seasonal stalk!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Creative People

Building A Family Legacy On Local Manufacturing, With Abode Living

Creative director Amelia Marasco Adair takes us on a tour of the company's Camberwell HQ - featuring their production warehouse, offices +
44:00

Podcast

The Unconventional Career Path Of Interior Designer Yasmine Ghoniem Of YSG Studio, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, host Lucy Feagins talks to the founder of YSG Studio and so-hot-right-now visionary leading the Australian int...

On The Market

A Historic Italianate Mansion Hits The Market In Kew

Built in 1889, Ross House (formerly called Charleville), is a heritage-protected Italianate mansion in Kew designed by local architect Henry...

Interiors

How To Make Wallpaper Work!

Lauren Li of Sisällä Interior Design shares her tips and tricks for wallpaper that really works - and where to get it!
Lauren Li

Building Better

Everything You Need To Know About Working With A Builder

Where do you find a good builder? How long will it take them to build my house? How much will it cost? We answer these FAQs more.

On The Market

The Perfect Architect-Designed Family Home Is On The Market

The Kingsville House by Olaver Architecture is potentially the closest thing there is to a perfect family house. And it could be yours!
Sasha Aarons

Gardens

A Beautiful New Life For A Generous Family Garden

The Haberfield Garden by Fieldwork Associates in Sydney unites multiple green zones under a canopy of excitement + abundance!

Studio Visit

This Cheerful New Textile + Homewares Label Brings The Sunshine We Need Right now!

Hannah Veikkanen used Melbourne's extended lockdowns to develop and launch her own textile label, creating handtufted cushions and artwork f...

Creative People

The Earthy, Abstract Art Of Asha Holmes

Inside the textured, tonal and intuitive practice of a Northern Beaches-based painter whose star is well and truly on the rise!

Similar Stories

Quoted

Advice on Changing Tack

Annie Abbott of footwear phenomenon Habbot, and Mr Draper’s Alistair Birrell talk plotting a new career.
Elle Murrell

Quoted

Ideas on Productivity

A new short and snappy series of inspiring quotes from our fave local creatives.
The Design Files

Quoted

Tips on Motivating Teams

We take two minutes with two incredibly accomplished creative professionals: Amanda Henderson of Gloss Creative, and Berry Liberman of Small...
Elle Murrell

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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.