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Laura Strange

She’s the girl you instantly want to adopt as your best friend, not to mention a talented designer, artist, jewellery maker and one half of local creative biz Art-work Agency.

Recently, Laura was commissioned to create a design for The Undercurrent’s Nobby Beach tee shirt, a place close to her heart. We sat down for a chat with her on capturing the cool and collected vibe of the beachside suburb we all know and love.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local? 
I’ve been an official “full-time” Gold Coaster for almost three years now. I was living down here part-time previously while working in Brisbane, but was able to make the transition down here in 2015 and haven’t looked back! I’ve always had an affiliation with the coast and beach. I spent my early childhood on the northern beaches in Cairns before my family moved to Brisbane. Growing up, my grandparents lived in Broadbeach, so that saw me visiting the coast with family most weekends. I have fond memories of summer days spent walking down to Kurrawa Beach via the Broachbeach Mall with a melting ice cream in hand!

What do you love most about our beautiful city?
It’s hard to pick one thing, but I would say our sense of community is really unique and wonderful. People around the coast are generally super friendly – taking a morning walk means you’re greeted by at least a handful of people every day. We’ve got lots of the “big city” perks – food, coffee, arts and cultural activities, but we’ve kept our “small town” charm. It’s something I hope remains in the city as we grow and mature.

You recently designed a t-shirt for The Undercurrent representing Nobby Beach, what did you include and why? 
Nobby Beach is an area really special to me as it’s where my husband was living when we first met! As he’s been on the Gold Coast since he was a kid, he has a lot of fond memories of Nobby Beach and the Magic Mountain era. It was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the history of the area and also to learn about how it influenced my husband growing up.

I wanted to capture this sense of nostalgia, but also capture the cool and collected reputation the precinct holds today. The chairlift was included as a tribute to the Magic Mountain days, and also because it’s such a quirky thing to have beachside – the chairlift is usually associated with the snow, not the sand! I also chose to incorporate two key street-signs from the area, Chairlift Ave (obviously!) and Lavarack Rd. For me, these two streets form the “heart” of Nobby’s – home to cafes, restaurants and access to the beach.

What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing arts scene? 
Everything about arts and culture on the Gold Coast is exciting. There’s so much going on that it’s starting to get hard to keep up – which is great. Gone are the “cultural wasteland” days – we’re amidst a new era of cultural change and innovation on the coast. Our cultural programming is distinctly Gold Coast and I hope that continues as we grow. We are really good at embracing our landscape and environment through cultural activities, and I think this is something we do differently to other destinations – perhaps because until now we haven’t had the facilities to house performances, so programmers have had to be experimental with venues and locations. Opera or sculptures on the beach? Dance workshops in the park? Theatre in the penthouses of high-rises? We do it all. We do it really, really well.

Where do you think we’ll be in five years? 
The development of the Cultural Precinct will change the arts and culture landscape on the coast for the better, and will bring more opportunities for emerging and established creatives – which will entice them to stay here rather than relocate to other cities. We’ll see more young people choosing to call the coast home. My friends in Brisbane and further afield will finally agree that the coast has culture.  The amount of coffee shops within walking distance from my house will have doubled to 24 (there’s currently 12…how nuts is that!).

What’s been your personal artistic journey? 
I wouldn’t have branded myself as a “creative” growing up, so sometimes I’m still surprised that I chose a career in art and design! I was told by my year 12 careers councillor that I’d never be a graphic designer because I couldn’t draw super well…what a farce that was! I soon discovered that design wasn’t about illustrating and making things “pretty”, but rather about solving problems, which suited me really well.

You’re both an artist and a designer, what’s your favourite thing to create? 
I’m happiest when I’m creating something that looks beautiful and solves a business need. I’m a pretty practical person and I like to create for an outcome or purpose. While a lot of artists savor the process…I’m more of a destination girl! I love seeing the outcome of a project and looking at the impact it has on the business.

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received? 
What you think you attract – I always try to be positive and see the glass half full, not empty. Think positively and you’ll attract positivity.

Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourite on the Coast…
Beach: Love the Miami Beach front/Marine Parade.
Cafe: Can I pick two? All Time Coffee (almond latte and a doughnut) and Skull and Bones (bulletproof to go, please!)
Restaurant: This is tricky…it’s a toss up between Justin Lane, The Lamb Shop and Itoshin!
How does your weekend usually look? Morning walk to All Time to get moving, followed by a cruisy lunch with family or friends. Evenings usually involve attending a cultural event (theatre, film or exhibition) and some Netflix with my husband and kitties for good measure.

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