Set up in 2001 by Tamsin O’Hanlon, Free Range is an Old Truman Brewery special project that provides new creative graduates with the opportunity to showcase their work on an international level. Tori Rodway is set to graduate from Middlesex University. Her work appears in the Fashion Communication and Styling section, opening 27 May. Aesthetica speaks to her about the benefits of Free Range and the artists that have been an inspiration.
A: Your work will be showcased at this year’s Free Range Art, Design & Fashion show. Can you tell us a little more about your exhibition?
TR: The exhibition is a showcase of the past year’s work. The course is set in two pathways – styling and graphics. I chose the graphics pathway, as I was keen to learn and experiment with publication and graphic design and to create work that reflects what inspires me. I think this is evident in what I will be exhibiting – I’ve produced a card game using graphic interpretations of typical clothing styles. Rather than one large project throughout, I have created different projects across the whole year to best display the skills I have accumulated over my time at university. I also like to work on different projects as it can get tedious working on one thing for a long period of time. I like to think my work is playful and gives the viewer a peek into my personality as well as being memorable.
A: Free Range is one of the UK’s largest platforms for budding artists and designers. What do you hope to take away from the experience?
TR: The Free Range Show offers me the opportunity to gain industry contacts, I know a lot of graduates whose careers have been pushed forward with the promotion of their work. I enjoy the feeling that someone is actually interested in what I am doing; it humbles me and gives me pride in my design work. In the face of future uncertainty post-graduation, a platform like Free Range allows me to relax to some degree with the knowledge that my work is being viewed. It can take years for artists to hone and develop their aesthetic.
A: Can you tell us about the different styles and mediums you have experimented with in the past, and what you found to work best for you
TR: My primary interest has always been photography, especially analogue. I enjoy the process necessary in order to get your perfect photograph. I love that you have to time everything perfectly with precision and caution otherwise your photo is ruined. I also love printmaking. It is one of the most beautiful ways to produce work especially for posters and publication, the possibilities are endless with printmaking and you always get the best results. I currently work digitally designing across the Adobe suite of programmes. I like the immediacy of the software – the knowledge that when I make a mistake or want to explore something quickly, then I’ll get results. As a very visual person, I like to see what I am creating at every step. Colour inspiration comes from browsing Swiss graphics and old Paul Rand adverts. My mind often sees an end result before I have even developed design ideas, so there is always a constant battle when it comes to changing my mind’s mind and pushing through what I think is my eureka moment and actually develop my work further. The processes I go through can sometimes come in an instant and give me amazing results, other times I will toy with an idea for ages and waste time obsessing with making it great rather then work around the problem through experimenting. I think most people struggle in a similar way within the design industry – the reward is in pushing through and finding a great outcome.
A: The creative industry is a tougher nut than most to crack. What’s the best advice you’ve received about turning your passion for art and design into a viable career path?
TR: I have always been encouraged to pursue that which makes me most happy. Allowing your personality to speak through your work and acknowledging that you will be noticed if you put the time and effort in to your work is very important. I try to make my designs visually interesting and memorable. I want people to enjoy looking at my work; it’s playful and explores a different perspective. Finishing university I think a lot of graduates lack confidence, I know I’m not the only one. I fully believe that if you put yourself out there and pursue that which makes you happy, you’ll demonstrate enough to potential employers to be successful.
A: Do you have a favourite artist and/or designer? What inspires you most about their work?
TR: At the moment I am interested in Swiss graphics and typography, Josef Müller-Brockmann’s work is of particular interest. I love his use of shape and colour. Applying this kind of design thinking within my own work, I am using colour and shapes to evoke memories and feelings rather than the more traditional medium of photographs. Bernard & Hilla Becher create beauty out of inanimate objects, working together they created a series of images of water containers from different places. The functional aspect of the water container remained the same but the aesthetic changed from country to country. I admire the simplicity of the images, as well as the small details and comparisons visible when viewed as a series within the frame.
Find out more at www.free-range.org.uk