These days it seems as though anyone with a laptop can dream up an idea and decide they want to create a business. Which is great news for those who have the tools and are willing to put in the hard work to make it happen.
If you’re a business owner already, you’ll understand that deciding you want to do it is the easy part, after that, it’s all about gathering an arsenal of tools, all of the knowledge you can possibly find and often, a sprinkle of glitter or some such magic to keep things flowing.
One Gold Coast business owner who knows a thing or two about hard work is Dean Oakley, founder of Thrive Web Design. Like many of us, he started his business with a laptop and a dream and now, as the name suggests, it’s absolutely thriving.
For the past 14 years Dean and his now 15-strong team have expanded to boast a vast portfolio of international clients, some of which you already know and love for whom they build beautiful, hand-crafted websites that in turn, help those business’ to grow.
Grace Loves Lace was one such client. Thrive worked next door to Grace Loves Lace in 2011, creating their first ever website and worked closely with them for years. Since then, the wedding dress designers have evolved into a a multi-million-dollar international company.
In 2017, Instagram star Tammy Hembrow approached Thrive to create her site to promote a new exercise program and when the website went live, thousands of copies were quickly sold, creating the brand she’s known for today.
Art Lovers Australia is another business that approached Thrive, this time wanting an online marketplace for artists to sell and showcase their work to lovers’ of art. Since its launch, the site has seen a huge amount of growth.
Not only those well know businesses though, Thrive has also created sites for everyone from law firms to dance schools, ecotourism websites and surf schools and pretty much everything in between.
So what’s the secret to all of this success? According to Dean, it’s a genuine care for what you do and the clients you work for.
He says, “We want to create the best possible online presence for all of them. We listen closely to their needs, requirements and expectations, adding our own professional input along the way. It’s about sharing knowledge of each other’s industries and working symbiotically to create the best possible outcome for that specific consumer market. I’m big on having the right people on the right jobs and our amazing team consists of some of the very best in the industry leading the way”.
So there you have it, you really can make your own business dream come true with a laptop and a little (a lot of) hard work.
If you’re keen to see what Thrive can do, check out their work here.
LOCATION: 71 West Burleigh Road, Burleigh Heads
PHONE: 07 5535 0063
Words by Kirra Smith
Photos supplied by Thrive Web Design
STORY SPONSORED BY THRIVE WEB DESIGN
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.
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.