Artist, designer and cultural connoisseur.
Artist, designer and cultural connoisseur.
He’s the main man behind one of the Coast’s best known design agencies 40/40 Creative and now, self-proclaimed ‘disruptor’ Nic Nichols is taking his talent to the streets.
The Gold Coast local recently launched an initiative to help local businesses affected by recent events by creating free artworks to use on social media, promoting a service.
We had a chat with Nic about how he came up with this incredible idea and what’s in the works for the rest of this (crazy) year.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve been a local on the GC for 29 years.
What do you most love about living here?
The work / lifestyle balance we have, the growing culture of restaurants and bars and just the pace of society we have. There’s just the right amount of crazy around here.
How did your business 40/40 come about?
It was essentially born out of my interest in marketing and also being a graphic designer. In 2011, I left my full-time design job to start an online advertising business and the local business owners that I was selling advertising to would always compliment and enquire about the branding I created. I started being asked to work on their businesses and consult more and more and it became a more obvious and enjoyable career choice.
Tell us about the work you do…
Our work varies from graphic design, creative direction, advertising, photography and film. So we essentially consider ourselves specialist in business branding and identity.
Is there a particular project that stands out as a favourite?
There has been some fun advertising campaigns recently for Platypus Sneakers where we have had the pleasure of creating some fun shoots and illustration based work. Not to mention the sweet perks of complimentary sneakers every now and then. Our favourite projects will always be our own though as we have the freedom of dictating all the output ourselves, a good example of our most recent being Golden Walls.
Tell us about the ‘Support Local’ initiative you started recently…
We recently launched an initiative called #CreativeStimulus to help support local Gold Coast businesses. We want to offer some creative aid and help design a promotional post free of charge to anyone still operating that they can use on social media. The idea is to help the many businesses which are desperately trying to adapt and navigate through this strange time.
Obviously many businesses have been forced to close which is awful but the need to trade locally is more important than ever right now. I think a lot of people understand that and we hope our initiative will help drive awareness to those resilient businesses still trying to maintain.
Why do you think it’s something the Coast needs right now?
We work with quite a few Gold Coast businesses and I have a lot of friends in business here – all from different industries. To see and hear how each industry has to individually adapt and change their business model means there needs to be communication and marketing towards the customer(s). To do this in a creative manner should help cut through all the noise.
What are your thoughts on the Coast’s art and culture scene?
I think that we are starting to become recognised as a world-class destination and so a lot of effort is going into listening to ideas, which are finally starting to revolve around arts and culture. In short, I feel it’s underdeveloped but moving in a strong direction.
How does your work contribute to that?
I see a lot of content floating around social media with locals and tourists posting photos in front of murals and artworks that we have created. I feel that creates a sense of experience and culture for the community and visitors alike.
What’s the plan for the rest of 2020?
The plan is to make the most of it. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt during this crazy time so far, it’s to appreciate the small things and not take them for granted.
What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
“Watch what you sign and who you dance with”, “Be disruptive – in the best way” and “In the end, it’s only the good food and memories”.
He’s the exceptional local artist whose work you’ve seen on everything from giant murals to beer cans and national clothing brands and everything in between and it seems like he’s only just getting started.
Kiel Tillman is an illustrator, designer, painter and legendary local lad whose clients include international brands like Oakley and General Pants and closer to home, Black Hops Brewing and The Undercurrent.
We sat down for a chat with Kiel about the recent launch of Tillman Creative Co. and working with the WuTang Clan.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
Almost 20 years. Wow, now I feel old. I moved to the Coast to study graphic design straight after school. I grew up in a small coastal town in mid north NSW, called Old Bar. Amazing place but there was not that many options in the way of a creative career.
What do you love most about our beachside city?
I think it’s the balance of lifestyle. I don’t have to commute for three hours a day to an office in the city. I can drive 15 minutes to an office in Burleigh and that still blows my mind. I love that I can work with clients all over the world and still take my kids to the beach after school.
Tell us how you became a full time creative?
It didn’t happen overnight. I spent about 17 years working as a designer in a bunch of different industries. I worked at a printer, designed clothes at Billabong and was Creative Director at Potato Press and was always doing art shows and illustration on the side. With all of that experience under my belt, when my side hustle started to take off, I had the confidence to make the leap and start my own business.
Talk to us about TILLMAN CREATIVE CO., what does it encompass?
TILLMAN CREATIVE CO, is a contemporary brand and design studio based on the Gold Coast, Australia. We specialise in creating custom design brand identities, illustrations, merchandise and murals for clients wanting an originally authentic representation of their company. We work with local and international companies to create visual solutions that fight the noise. .
You work with so many epic brands and companies, what have been some of your career highlights?
Some of our previous clients include Oakley, Corona, General Pants and Wu-Tang Clan – working with WuTang Clan was pretty wild also getting the privilege of creating the Gold Coast mural at Tugun was definitely a proud moment. But to be honest the projects where I see the value that our services bring to our client and their business, that’s always the most rewarding highlight!
You’ve just undergone a complete rebrand, why the change?
When I first started working for myself I was basically working as a freelancer. Now that I have started building my own client base, working on larger projects and contracting other talented creatives to work alongside me, it was time to step it up and brand my own company like I would brand a clients company. It’s awesome to finally have it out there so we can showcase our work and tell the people who we are.
Thoughts on the Coast’s rapidly expanding arts and culture scene…
We have such a flourishing and inclusive creative scene here now. It’s so awesome to see everyone doing so well. It’s evidence that art, design and creative thinking is so important to build community and help a city to thrive.
What’s in the works for the rest of 2019?
I just presented and attended The Design Conference in Brisbane last week so I am super inspired and ready to push TCC and create great things for the rest of 2019! I’ll be releasing more case studies onto the website. We have just produced some TCC merch and aim to create more towards the end of the year. A couple more speaking gigs on the cards. But mostly continuing to work with our awesome clients and creating exciting work for new clients and projects! I’m pumped… Let’s do it.
Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Cafe for breakfast: Burleigh Co-Op, it’s nice and close to the office.
Coffee spot: I can’t go past Portside at Currumbin.
Restaurant for dinner: Zipang in Currumbin.
What do you usually get up to on the weekend: Hang with the wife and kids, go to the beach/creek at Currumbin, walks at Tugun and usually sprinkle some work in there too, haha.
There aren’t enough words in the world to describe the sky high levels of inspiration, creativity and general good vibes Claudio Kirac brings to the Gold Coast (but please, read on and you’ll get the gist).
He’s an artist, photographer and designer who has travelled the world to make magic with some of the biggest brands out there but, lucky for us, he calls our golden shores home. Over the last few years he’s worked closely with HOTA, Bleach* Festival and Festival 2018, to name a few, but his most recent project is a little closer to home.
We sat down for a chat with the absolute legend that is CK about his agency Art-Work’s epic new creative space and why the Gold Coast has become a well-oiled arts and culture machine.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I have been on the GC for most of my life, was not born here, but definitely consider myself a die-hard local.
What do you love most about our beautiful city?
The small country town feel with some of the luxuries of a big city. The GC’s connection to nature is one of our most valuable assets and a definite game changer when it comes to quality of life and enjoying where you live.
Tell us your exciting news…
Our agency, Art-Work (AW) has climbed some big mountains in the past few years, from the strength of our collaborators to our internal creative and business mindset, you could say we are growing. With growth comes challenge and change, and your daydreams eventually manifest into something that is greater than you could possibly imagine. So, we have combined all our experience and knowledge, dipped our big toe in, and are creating a physical home for Art-Work, a multi purpose space for Design and Dreaming, right in the growing creative hub of Cronulla and Karen in Mermaid Beach
What will you have going on in the new space?
Our new creative space, the AW World HQ, will be our daily go-to for all of our creative production. It’s a blank canvas of sorts that we can use to experiment, play and grow ideas for the years to come – business in the front and dancing in the back. On a daily basis it will serve as our design office, with space to do photography and video production, contemporary art and creative consultation, with a vision to host exhibitions, industry gatherings and workshops from time to time – the space will be by appointment only, but you are welcome to drop by with coffee, tacos or wine anytime.
Tell us about your career journey so far, where did you start and how did you end up here?
I have always lived and loved art, from a 15 year history working in the surf industry, to jumping out on our own with Art-Work to work on the projects we love, it has been such an inspiring journey. I started AW with my long-term colleague and friend Paul Bow almost seven years ago now, from humble beginnings to trailblazing new territories; we are the perfect blend of creativity and commerce. My wife Laura Strange has brought such a new light to what we do across digital, design and strategy, that I find myself learning new things every day, which is one thing that we, as humans and designers, should never stop doing.
No doubt there have been many highlights, what are some favourite career moments?
The ultimate highlight is everyday when I pinch myself and am grateful for being able to be creative and get paid for it, also travels to far away lands of sunshine and snow and the memories and friendships we create along the way are experiences you will never forget.
Where do you find inspiration as such a creative guy?
I used to devour a lot of print collateral – still do, but much less – AW has an amazing design library BTW. I have to sometimes force myself to look beyond the pages of Pinterest, as it is veritable minefield of collated, curated craziness! These days a calm mind, a jump in the ocean and good verbal download helps to put things into perspective.
What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing arts and culture scene?
The arts and culture scene on the GC is now a well oiled machine, compared to where we used to be five, 10 even 15 years ago now, the term ‘Cultural Wasteland’ never even entered my mind, although it’s taken a long and winding road to get to where we are now. With independent galleries through to HOTA and ongoing support from government infrastructure, I feel it is now at the perfect place to go next level and be taken seriously, with a community of talented creative hearts and minds to help tell the story.
What else would you like to see happen?
For artists and designers to stay here and embrace the ride.
What’s the plan for the rest of 2018?
We have had ridden a crazy wave this year, all the way from the beginning with HOTA, Bleach* and Festival 2018 through to working on creative content with our favourite locals at Dwell Store. Now over the hump with launching our new space and embracing the neighbourhood vibes we have some super exciting projects on the horizon across photography, video, brand and mural work to round out the year, but not before Laura and I head to the USA for a month long road trip of culture, food and good times!
Best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Wait for the moment, but do it now.
Favourites on the Coast:
Beach: From Cooly to the Spit, there’s nowhere like it on this planet!
Cafe: I’d have to throw my favourite Mermaid Beach locals in the hat, the best from All-Time, Hula Girl, Le Cafe Gourmand and Door 50 – you can’t go wrong
Restaurant: LUPO, Itoshin, Harry’s and Justin Lane for the cross section of good local cuisine
How does your weekend usually look? Up for the early or sleep in, depending on what’s on the cards, walk to get coffee and start from there. We sometimes work on Sunday because it doesn’t always feel like work. I like to cook, catch up with family and friends, reset and plan for the week ahead. A good schedule makes for a productive week, so the weekend is the time to reflect and refocus.