Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Artist Series - Design Cherry

Top Image : Photography: Maya Vidulich. Styling: Megan Morton

If there is one thing I admire in a person, it's the ability to break from the mould. To divert from the bland path and step into outrageous colour. Astred is one such person. Passionate about all things retro with an undying dedication to the printed word, Astred designs book covers by day and raises a darling boy by night.

I'm so thrilled to have a Design Cherry custom designed blog header for The Beetle Shack. Look at it, filled with special things from our lives and home!

Without any further ado, lets meet Astred...

 Hey Astred, Can you tell us a little bit about your work and life?

I’m a vintage loving book designer, I live in Sydney with my Super Awesome Husband (SAH) Bob and our 21-month-old cheeky chops, Archer, along with our two dogs Knuckles and Dutch.

We have a vintage-inspired lifestyle and like to look the part. Our home, our hoard of collectables and our social life all reflect our obsession with 50s-60s style.

As I mentioned I am a book designer, which means I am a graphic designer that is obsessed with books and chose to work mainly in that medium – novel covers, fancy illustrated internals, you name it I do it.

I am also a published author and to round it all up I am a design lecturer at Billy Blue College of Design. Phew! Life is pretty busy.

What inspired to to be a designer?

Growing up I was always a bit of a crafty clever clogs, I had two fabulous parents who inspired me, Dad was a programmer for IBM and brought home our first computer an Apple IIe in the early 80s and thanks to him and my nerdy older brother, I had my first website in 1994, a teen angst-soaked Goth page complete with dark poetry and pictures of my friends draped on gravestones. Mum was an actress / entomologist / curator / smarty pants and gave my siblings and I space to explore and develop our creativity. Looking back I think it’s only natural that from that I chose a path that was both creative and techy.

But it wasn’t until I had been working in the design industry for a few years that I started working in a studio who had a few book publishers as clients. Designing books rang a lot of bells for me. In fact I am pretty sure a whole gospel choir appeared and I knew that this was the design I was meant to do. Forever. I ran the publishing department of that studio for a year or two then went on to work as the art director of an educational publisher, 3 years ago I took the leap to become a full-time freelance designer and haven’t looked back.

 Is there an artist/designer that you turn to for inspiration when you need it?

There are many graphic designers I admire but when I need inspiration I tend to look at other areas. For example, I pore over photographs of interiors. For me, the energy in the harmonious placement of objects, furniture and textures can be transposed into the organisation of text, shapes, line and images on a page. I also like looking at typography – mainly handcrafted type. It is so crazily beautiful that it never fails to give me a creative jolt.

 What is your favourite colour?

Sea foam green. Hands down all time favourite. It’s a joyous colour and we chose it for the walls in our son’s room. It works very well with vintage homewares and old toys.

Is there a symbol that you find yourself using repeatedly in your work? Can you explain it to us?

No. I think my work would best be described as eclectic.

 What is your happiest childhood memory?

I grew up in Newtown in Sydney’s inner-west, which I loved for its grunginess and quirky experiences. But some of the best fun we had was at my grandparents’ homes on the North Shore. Catching frogs in my Nana’s pond, then pushing them on toy cars around the backyard*. Pa paying my sister and me 2¢ each to scare the currawongs away from his citrus trees. The smell of my Grandma’s flowers and the hum of my Grandpa’s bees. I adored my grandparents and am so grateful to have had them all for so long. I am glad for my own little boy that he has both sets of his own grandparents nearby.
*No frogs where harmed in this activity.

 What is your greatest achievement?

I would say that 2011 was a major highlight of my life. That year I left my comfortable position as art director for a publisher and started working from home in my comfortable pyjamas as a freelance book designer. Later the same year I gave birth to Archer and had my own book published by McGraw-Hill. At the time I thought going full-time freelance was scary, and being the co-ordinating author of {Graphic Design} Australian Style Manual was akin to herding cats, but these were not at all hard compared to the trickiness of childrearing! But after my son’s first year I am more relaxed and able to sit back and let my heart be squeezed by everything he does.

Did it take long to truly develop your own style? 

My style still developing really. Design is always evolving. But I in the last few years I have become known for designing children’s and young adult novels – more of a genre than a style. I love creating covers for this smart, aspirational, funny audience. For my own personal work my signature style is illustrated pieces that are handmade with tricky production processes (like Gocco screen-printing, or fancy hand worked die-cuts) that make me tear out my hair and question my sanity.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?

I’d like to grow my freelance into a business and employ a bunch of awesome designers. The range of our output will expand but we will still be concentrating on books and laughing at all those people who proclaimed the printed book dead. We will never surrender!


As an extra special treat Astred is hosting a fabulous bookish giveaway over on her personal blog Design Cherry. Make sure you head over and visit the stunning red head in her natural habitat and while you're at it, keep in touch via her facebook page.

Thank you Astred, you are fabulous. It's a fact.

View the Artist Series

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  1. Stunning, what a talented lady - love the new banner! Lovely work xx

  2. So cool!
    And I love the new header!

  3. wow what a talented gal...and I love that she is "livin the dream"....go astrid! x

  4. Thank you for your incredibly kind words Em. I am so excited to be part of your artist series! Viva La Book!

  5. I am truly inspired. Astred's work is amazing, and yes. SO eclectic. I love that no two pieces are the same. That in itself is her trademark. x

  6. I love the new header.

    And I'm a little in love with Astred's job, designing book covers ... I'm sure it is challenging, but it certainly sounds deliciously romantic to me.

  7. This new header is amazing!! I LOVE it! xo

  8. Super dooper header. So very B-SHACK xx


Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em