45: A visual record of forty-five years of graphic design practice

For the past 45 or so years I have worked as a graphic designer – a profession that I still enjoy working in. This 180 page A5 book documents some of the design and illustrative work completed during that time, from naive beginnings in Brisbane, to working at one of Australia’s leading graphic design consultancies, to the last thirty-five years of practice based in Ballarat.

Not every project has made it to these pages – a lot of the work was repetitive or insignificant and, let’s face it, some of it not very good. However I’d like to think that the majority of the work is competent (to use the parlance of TAFE) and that, over the years, I’ve had more than a few good ideas that have been well executed. A digital version of the book can be found at https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-3282870335/view

As designers, we constantly try to produce successful outcomes for our clients, and ultimately the end user, by bringing to bear all the technical knowledge and aesthetic sensitivity we’ve developed over the many years of study, practise and project experience. We also strive to create work that is memorable and striking – work with a ‘big’ idea.

Graphic design was virtually unknown when I was at High School. If you were “arty”, the Careers Advisor would suggest Commercial Art or, if you were fairly proficient at Geometrical Drawing & Perspective as I was, Architecture. 

Not really knowing what career path to follow, I enrolled in a broad-based design course – the Bachelor of Applied Science (Built Environment) at the Queensland Institute of Technology, graduating at the end of 1977. The intention was to go on and complete the Architecture degree after taking a year’s break.

Whilst on that break, and still none the wiser what to do, I was introduced to a transport engineer, Denis Johnston, by one of my fellow graduates. (The two had met on a golf course.) Denis needed some illustrations and maps for a report his company was preparing. This in turn led to more work and eventually a career in graphic design. 

Trust me – I’m a designer

For most of my working life I have been self-employed. 

Creating good working relationships and building trust with clients (and suppliers) are key factors in the success and longevity of any business and I am indebted to all those individuals who have helped in any way to further and sustain my career.

I would like to thank all those long-term clients who have trusted their projects to me, particularly: Denis Johnston, David Glare, Irene Crebbin, Margaret Rich, Robin Batt, Dick Millott, Ron Hendry, Keith Boast, Ken Cameron, Julian Lowe, Christine O’Connor, Gillian Thompson, Wayne Strong, Ron Egeberg, Philip Clingin, Adam Parrott, Daryl Wallis, Rosemary Angus, Suzanne Clark, Robyn Reeves, Gerard Ryan, Paula Nicholson and Philip Cormie, to name just a few! 

I am also extremely grateful for the experience, advice and responsibilities given me by Michael Bryce whilst at my first and only real job at a graphic design firm, and for the selfless support and encouragement of my wife, Barbara. Thank you.