Tell us about your journey to becoming a creative?
I grew up in an artistic family. My great-grandad was a landscape oil painter and Royal Academician in the UK in the early 20th century, my grandad was a writer, and my grandmother, father, mother and brother were all, in fact, visual artists. But my dad made his career in science, so when I was growing up, he also pushed me that way. I was always creating from a young age but pursued Geology at University without really thinking about where it would lead me. Later, after I moved to Australia, I started a career in oil and gas offshore, but was quickly put off by the industry and decided it was time for a change to something more creative. I started off on a drafting course thinking I might end up making it as an architect. I worked for several companies including notably Kerry Hill Architects in Fremantle, then later Theo Mathews, Willcox and Archterra locally, but realised it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. Later, I finally decided to commit to what I had dreamed of since I was 16 and made the jump into Graphic Design. By this time my first child was on his way and after too many years in formal education, I took the online approach. It served me well and after hooking up with an old friend who helped me secure my first jobs, I started picking up my own clients. These grew until I was self sufficient, and the rest as they say, is history.
How has your creative practice changed over time?
Since starting out over a decade ago, I have certainly made lots of improvements in my process. I try to include the client more in the discovery and gain more insights from them to dictate the brand strategy. This way, it is the brand values that dictate the final look and feel, rather than personal preference, and I can use my expertise to translate this to create brands that respond to the brief. Running your own practice, you need to be adaptable and learn fast. You try to never say that you can’t do something, and figure it out on the go. I’d love to say that by now, I have made my mistakes, learned from them and there is nothing new to figure out – but that simply wouldn’t be the truth. With technology and software always advancing, notably more recently with the advent of AI, there is never a moment to rest. You always have to be adapting, learning and improving your skills to remain relevant.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced working in the creative sector?
VALUE: that is being valued for the service you provide but also the value of that service to your business. When it comes to brand creation, people often seem to have a figure in their heads of what they expect to pay, and thanks to companies like Fiverr and so on, well that value is often very little (even though you will seriously struggle to find a graphic designer on Fiverr who will do any job for that fee). As a result, their budgets are often too low to create meaningful work. It’s a shame because there is a great opportunity to clarify and cement your business strategy through effective brand strategy, but if you simply opt for a cheap logo, you will miss out on a great opportunity. I truly believe that a brand can affect the success of a business. Not only do customers find pleasure, even pride, in purchasing from great brands, but it can also really affect employee morale and improve their sense of place and community. I think if people could understand the value of good design in business, there would be less reluctance to engage professionals and probably a whole lot more satisfied customers.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Do my brand strategy first and let that guide the brand development instead of personal preference (both the clients and my own). Unfortunately, it can be hard for clients to understand the value of brand strategy and therefore to get them to engage in it, but if we are creating a brand to fulfil a need, it can be really refreshing and effective to take this approach.
What would your dream project look like, if you had unlimited money and time?
The dream project for me would be to find a job that mixed travel, illustration and graphic design and left the world in a better place than it started. It would involve some of my passions such as surfing, snowboarding, fishing or even just exploring, would be well funded and involve great people who are aligned in creating a positive impact.
Name some creatives that inspire you and why?
John Butler and Danielle Caruana: I met my wife Jane, at one of John’s concerts nearly 20 years ago right here in Margaret River. On the night I met her, I later told friends, that I would one day make her my wife. As it turns out Jane was John’s sister and as Jane later indeed did become my wife, so did John and his wife Danielle become my brother and sister-in-law. John and Dan have both led successful careers in the music industry and they gave me the belief and faith that a creative career could be anything I wanted it to be. They are incredible creative individuals in their own right who burn brightly and stand up for what’s right.
Brainstorm Design is a graphic design, web and illustration studio based in Margaret River. We believe that design is at the heart of every great idea and through the work that we do we intend to empower our clients to shout their mission aloud. We create personal relationships and acknowledge that understanding each other is a big part of nailing the brief. We look for the spark to ignite your vision and translate that through our knowledge, talent and professional skills to create an end product that captures your audience. Brainstorm design is led by Tim Kerr. With over a decade of experience in Graphic Design, Tim has tread a colourful path to be where he is today having lived across the globe from Canada France, the UK and today, Australia.