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The Big Design Market Gets A Big Design Mentor!

Creative People

Being a creative can be an isolating experience, especially when it comes to business know-how! The Big Design Market has recognised the power of a creative business mentor, and after seven years of celebrating independent designers, the team has launched a new style of support for talented newcomers – with a mentor.

The first seasoned professional to provide assistance to emerging designers is none other than Aussie icon Ken Done. We chat with Cassie Byrnes of Variety Hour, Maylin Evanochko of Mazdevallia, Penny Ferguson of Min Pin, Esther Sandler of Togetherness Design, and jewellery + accessories designer Emily Green about the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

6th August, 2019

The recipients of The Big Design Market Mentor Initiative with this year’s mentor Ken Done! Photo – Eve Wilson.

Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 6th August 2019

The Big Design Market has helped boost the businesses of thousands of Australian designers by introducing them to passionate new audiences at their impressive events across Melbourne and Sydney. And this year, they’ve upped the ante again!

Thanks to The Big Design Market’s support of emerging designers, five talented Sydney market participants were lucky to share lunch and take a studio tour with Australian art legend Ken Done. Ken’s combination of business savvy and commitment to his creative practice make him the perfect candidate to share words of wisdom with these promising illustration-based designers.

We chat with the participants – Cassie Byrnes of Variety Hour, Maylin Evanochko of Mazdevallia, Penny Ferguson of Min Pin, Esther Sandler of Togetherness Design, and jewellery + accessories designer Emily Green – about what they learned from Ken to help foster a thriving independent design business. It would be hard not to be star-struck in the presence of Ken Done, but these illustrators were not afraid to pepper the art legend with plenty of questions to further their own careers!

Photo – courtesy of Emily Green.

Ken Done with Emily Green. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Emily Green, Jewellery + Accessories Designer

Emily Green is a life-long fan of Ken and describes, ‘it was amazing to actually meet the man whose work I have known and admired my entire life.’ As a jewellery designer with an eye for colour, Emily and Ken discussed the beauty of colour combinations, and looking to nature for inspiration.

For Emily, the most powerful part of the day was seeing how much enthusiasm Ken has retained for his practice. She explains, ‘I think the best advice from the day was to stay true to myself and to always strive to produce work primarily for my own enjoyment and creative fulfillment.’ Wise words indeed!

Photo – Michael Barca.

Photo – Michael Barca.

Esther Sandler, Togetherness Design

Esther Sandler enthusiastically describes meeting Ken as a ‘special and impactful experience.’ After initially being disarmed by his friendliness and candour, Esther was excited to hear how much her own experience as an illustrator-design related to Ken’s tips and advice. She explains that Ken’s insights about knowing your target market, and understanding the longevity of a business have ‘made me feel a lot more connected to the design world in general, more confident about what I am doing and more determined to keep making and creating into the future.’

Left: Min Pin designs. Right: Ken Done and Penny Ferguson of Min Pin. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Penny Ferguson, Min Pin

 For Penny, meeting Ken presented an opportunity to ask questions about balancing creative impulses with business nous. Ken’s brand hit the mainstream in the 80s, and he explained that it was how past experience working in advertising that has given him the insights to thrive in the creative industry. Penny enthuses ‘spending the day with Ken Done and seeing how his business runs both creatively and practically, I feel like I can now see more of a future for my own career path.’

Photo – Heather Lighton.

Photo – courtesy of Mazdevallia.

Maylin Evanochko, Mazdevallia

While all of the mentees were excited to meet Ken, for artist Maylin it was a prophecy come true. When she first started making statement jewellery, her mum encouragingly said ‘maybe one day you’ll meet Ken Done!’ The meeting was clearly meant to be, and Maylin resonated with Ken’s encouragement to maintain a sense of humour, and to not worry about the rules when creating your artwork.

Photo – Rod Pilbeam.

Cassie Byrnes with Ken Done. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Cassie Byrnes, Variety Hour

Cassie is pretty upfront about her excitement in working with Ken, as she simply states ‘Ken Done, what a legend!’

The artist met Ken when she was commencing a project that focused on the Great Barrier reef, which is an area of art expertise for Ken. The pair chatted about drawing from nature, and creating an emotive connection with the reef and aquatic creatures. Cassie explains, ‘he suggested to get out and see the world and immerse yourself in real experiences you can use as inspiration when designing next.’

Another highlight of the day was Ken sharing his first-ever artwork. For Cassie, this piece was a helpful reminder that everyone starts somewhere!

Don’t miss The Big Design Market’s next event in Sydney this September!

The Big Design Market
September 20th– 22nd
Friday 10am-9pm
Saturday 10am-6pm
Sunday 10am-5pm
The Cutway
Barangaroo
New South Wales

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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.