From seaside hotels to private working farms, graphic designer and illustrator Daisy Grumley has found an abundance of opportunities for creative freelancing in regional Victoria.
A Gippsland native, Daisy returned to the region after completing study in Melbourne. She may have only been practising for a short time, but she’s found that the demand for her work was immediate. Things are going so well, that with exception of a last-minute print job, there has been no need to return to the City for anything work-related.
Of course, this time frame has coincided with perhaps the biggest injection of life into regional towns that Australia has seen, well, ever. As working remotely becomes increasingly accepted, city dwellers have been provided permission to reimagine an existence beyond the confines of the ‘burbs and out into this sprawling countryside. For many, the move is already a reality and regional Australia is receiving an influx of residents.
The prospect of a full-time, freelance design gig away from a major city may have spurred doubt in the past, but this is no longer the case.
“I've found that there is a huge desire for design...”
“Currently, all of my work is regionally based,” Daisy explains. “I’ve found that there is a huge desire for design in South Gippsland and the Bass Coast especially… It’s a beautiful part of the world, and it’s full of some of the most interesting and inspiring people I’ve ever met.”
I met with Daisy on a bright morning at McIntosh Farm in South Gippsland. The farm owners have engaged Daisy to create branding for their grass-fed lamb, which will be sold by way of a local co-op created to benefit farmers directly. We met there to discuss her work while Daisy gathered imagery and inspiration.
Daisy has observed a trend of clients who seem to have been stirred into action by the seismic changes taking place globally.
“Some clients say they have finally slowed down, and want to pursue an idea they had been sitting on for a long time… A realignment of values, and time, and it was really lovely to get to be a part of those journeys.”.
There are also businesses that, for the first time, have been able to stop and take a breath.
The Westernport Hotel on the Bass Coast undertook building renovations and contacted Daisy to bring the branding up to speed. One of Australia’s only organic pheasant producers, Moore Pheasant Farm, worked with Daisy to generate a branding suite that visually communicates their close-to-nature ethos. “It was really lovely to work with people who genuinely cared about their animals and their wellbeing. We came up with an honest, organic brand that encapsulates the values they uphold,” explains Daisy. Hand-generated illustrations of pheasants, feathers and wild grasses paired with earth tones make up the composition of the graphics.
And, if you have lived in a regional town, you will understand what follows: “Word of mouth travels so fast,” Daisy laughs. “I can confidently say that 90 per cent of my jobs have come through that.”
Another contributing factor to creating connections in small towns, Daisy explains, is that people have time for others: “It’s amazing what can happen when you stop to talk to people, no-one ever had the time for that when I was living in the city.”
It is this organic way of networking that contributes to an intimate design process. “It’s a small world anyway,” Daisy explains, “but even more so in regional areas and so far I haven’t worked for anyone without mutual connections.”
The design outcomes in these instances come embedded with a sensibility drawn from knowing a person and place. “It’s really lovely,” Daisy adds, “that I get to build these relationships and stay connected with people long after the job is completed.”
Daisy has noticed similarities between briefs as regional Victoria, and Gippsland, collectively finds their voice and design vernacular. Stylistically, there seems to be a common theme of the simplicity associated with country living: “the slowing down, the beautiful landscapes, the quieter way of life,” says Daisy.
Graphic design has come so far from the motif generating of yesteryear. Today’s multi-platform presence requires a holistic approach and consistency across all avenues of communication. “There are misconceptions about the role of a graphic designer. I do get a lot of enquiries from people who ‘just want a logo’ which always sparks an interesting discussion.”
For Daisy, “it’s an important part, but there’s so much more to it.”
Particularly necessary in regional business is the need for storytelling through branding. “We have to create an entire narrative… it's your values, your clients, your beliefs and your possibilities… the outcome is always so much better when we approach it as a whole.”
As regional Australia braces itself for a spike in population growth and domestic tourism, there is an opportunity for small towns, businesses and the populations within them to set the tone for this new era.
Chatting with Daisy, I sense there has been a significant shift in the activities taking place in Gippsland, a trend I am sure likely extends to other regions. As communities grow and welcome residents with new skill sets, opportunities broaden. Engaging with local graphic and communication professionals allows for sympathetic outcomes and succinct storytelling.
Right now, Gippsland’s continuing to find its voice. With an expanding collective of talented creatives, like Daisy, the rest of Australia is all ears.