Artist Profile: Aaron Grech

Sometimes when I’m out in the world, going about my day, I’ll catch a glimpse of someone immersed in creating. Doodling in a field book on the train, taking a photograph in the middle of the street, scribbling notes on a scrap of paper. This is engrained making; when being creative is so innately habitual that you are consumed by it. I admire these people, I strive to be as liberated as they are. These are the people you look at and know that they must be wildly creative. This is what I see when I see Aaron, both in person and through his work. A mad creator who thinks in pink and blue visuals.

Aaron Grech is the young powerhouse behind Patch Squad (an artist collaborative patch label) and also does his own work under the pseudonym FFIVE. The medium of his work is interchangeable – ranging from postcard sized musings to large scale murals – but the colour palette and playfulness of his subjects remains the same. Personified fruit, cars, houses and stars; Aaron puts his recognisable brand on everything he touches. It is impressive to say the least.

I always feel very lucky when I can call an artist I admire, a friend, and getting to know Aaron has not only fuelled my passion to make but has reminded me of how humble and human artists are. I’m stoked to feature and share his work for my seventh On Jackson Street artist profile. Sit down, gaze at his beautiful work and read about his suburban Australian influences, the logic behind his teen hotmail address and the best artist profile playlist shared yet.

Photo by Michael Souvanthalisith

Photo by Michael Souvanthalisith

Hi Aaron! Thank you for being part of an artist profile with On Jackson Street. Can you start by introducing yourself – telling us a little about what you do and where you’re based?

Hi : – ) My name is Aaron and I draw pictures of things with faces on them, mostly. I currently live with my girlfriend out in the south eastern ‘burbs of Melbourne (on the Mornington Peninsula), but most of my Big Boy art squad are in Melbourne so I’m kind of stretched between two annoyingly distant places.

What is your earliest memory of creating?

My earliest memory of creating is probably when I was a toddler, watching my brother drawing cars on a stand-up chalkboard, and then trying to draw cars as well as he did. My Dad was a car nut and so my brother was too. I was a sleepy kid and didn’t like loud cars racing around tracks, but I was pretty keen on drawing them for a vast period of my early life.

I like that your work is never restricted to one outcome. In my eyes, what sets apart an artists’ portfolio from modest to prolific is the ability to swap seamlessly between mediums without disrupting their vision. This way you are always growing and expanding. Whats your favourite medium and scale to create in?

Thank you. I like to pride myself on always trying new mediums; it’s good and bad. I get obsessed with finding new mediums and then insulting the traditional method by doing everything my way – as naively as possible I guess. That’s probably why everything has the same flavour. The reason it can be bad is that I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none. It sounds dumb even suggesting that I know a lot of ‘trades’, but to be honest I have briefly tried a lot of things. While most people I know spent their late-teens and twenties partying and socialising, I was probably at home trying to make a circular backpack out of orange PVC or embroidering dumb pics. Heck, my girlfriend’s at a party right now and I didn’t go because I have art to make. SUE ME.

What are some things that consistently influence your work?

My biggest influence is probably home and all that suburban Australia shit. As a kid I was on the fringe of Mambo’s hayday – so Reg Mombassa is probably someone who’s art I really got inspired from. Probably just that really naive, loose, caricature style, heaps of dry humour, a lot of pensiveness. Garfield as well. I was introduced to the concept of depression by an overweight cat – isn’t the world beautiful? I also wanted to be a cartoonist for a lot of my childhood. I’ve always kept that cartoony theme through my work – I couldn’t shake it if I tried.

My work has kind of gone full circle. As a kid I was pretty free and drew just whatever I wanted or I thought was cool, like cars and peace signs and marijuana leaves (I was obsessed with the 60s as an 11 year old, before I had any idea what drugs were, or what ‘free love’ meant… but that didn’t stop me drawing those things all over my sketch book and making my email ‘‘). Then I got into highschool and everyone made me feel like an idiot and I kind of burrowed in and went a bit crazy. Now I’ve said a sweet fuck-you to education and I’m slowly regaining that childish shitkicker attitude that made me such a hit with the ladies back in grade 5 (I’m lying I only smooched a few people… I wasn’t that skinny). I don’t really like going outside and talking to people I don’t know and all that – so my influences don’t really feature doing LSD on a contiki tour with 10 people from 10 different countries – but I try my best to be inspired.

In terms of what inspires me RIGHT NOW – I’m listening to a Northern Soul compilation called ‘Stand in For Love – 16 Sad Moments in the Cool Kent World’, I’m looking at my studio wall with all my friend’s artwork and a Beach Boys lyric that I printed off and put on pink fluro paper that says ‘Don’t worry baby, everything will turn out alright’.

What is your experience with forging your own path as a young creative? What are some obstacles you’ve encountered along the way and how you work on overcoming them?

Well I don’t know… On one hand I feel like I’ve done a lot of ‘hard yards’ in terms of going it alone and not relying on the amazing tertiary education ‘golden ticket’ that everyone keeps harping on about – but at the same time, I’ve just been me and flailed around for the world to see. Somehow it’s got me typing out answers to questions like I’m actually somethin’ special. I’m definitely yet to have major obstacles (I think?) I’ve definitely made LOTS of mistakes in my creative pursuits – but due to the fact that I’ve rarely done things for people other than myself, it’s hard to say. My biggest obstacle is myself and it’s a daily battle.

Detail your ideal/favourite day.

Usually the best days are the ones I don’t expect to be good. I had a pretty great day last week – I went to the beach with my friends – we all are obsessed with each other I think. There was lots of filming and photo taking and laughing at each other. My ideal day… probably making art that I’m happy with in some capacity, and also hanging out with friends. Art and friends. That makes a good day.

What are some things helping you to create at the moment?

Music, definitely. Getting good results also helps me a lot, which actually sucks, because if I can’t seem to get anything right then it’s a bit hard. I’d love to mention an amazing book or some kind of poetry but to be honest I’m on the tail-end of a massive creative block and some damned result is what I need to stay afloat. Seeing my friends make some really cool art helps push me as well.

Best advice anyone ever gave you?

I was told by a really lovely teacher that I can’t do anything that feels disingenuous – which is why I’m more of an artist than a designer. That stuck with me.

Good things coming up in the future that you’re stoked about?

I have an exhibition coming up next Monday with Sydney artist MartinaMartian at Rooftop Artspace! Martina hit me up when she came down to Melbourne a few months ago and then set up this exhibition so that’s really cool. I made a giant embroidered patch with a car smashing through a wall which will be on display which I’m stoked about.

Me and my friends are also planning on this big group show early next year which could either be the biggest disaster of all our careers or the best thing Melbourne has seen since the FCUK billboard near the Westgate bridge.

Can you share ffive songs that would summarise your quintessential day creating?

At the moment:
When I Grow Up (To Be A Man) – The Beach Boys
IT G MA (remix featuring all those hard motherfuckers like ASAP FERG and Waka) – Keith Ape
Neptune Estate – King Krule
Grindin’ – Lil Wayne (with Drake – the 6 G O D)
Wet Vision – U ROY

If you listen to those songs in succession you will be me.

Photo by Michael Souvanthalisith

Photo by Michael Souvanthalisith

Artist Profile: Barbara Dziadosz

If you’re a fan of gritty texture, refined colour palettes and loveable long characters, this combination of the three will make your day. Feast your eyes on the beautiful illustrative work of Hamburg based illustrator, Barbara Dziadosz. There’s something incredibly satisfying about the raw quality of Barbara’s work, perhaps it’s the tiny screen printing nuances – a tiny line escaping the alignment or the thin overlapping of colour – but they are crammed with personality and details to pore yourself over.

Read her words and immerse yourself in Barbara’s work, as she talks about what she likes to keep in her workspace, her processes and shares her ideal day. 

Hello! Thank you for being part of an artist profile with On Jackson Street. Can you start by introducing yourself, telling us a little about what yourself, what you do and where you’re based?

My name is Barbara and I’m a freelancing illustrator based in Hamburg. I was born in a little town in Northern Poland, but moved to Hamburg when I was two years. Even though I was raised in Hamburg, I loved visiting my little hometown with it’s beautiful nature and stunning eastern european vintage books. I’m currently working on a bunch of projects including books, editorial jobs and teaching classes. At the same time I’m working on my final project, an illustrated cookbook.

What is your earliest memory of creating?

As long as I can remember I was always drawing. One of my favourite memories is having a super long paper leftover and drawing a high rise building with every floor and their resident.

What are some important steps in developing characters to draw? Sometimes when I am illustrating I like to imagine little stories about their lives, do you ever do that?

This depends on the commission and the requirements. If I’m working on a personal illustration I just start without overthinking it too much. My most spontaneous works are mostly the best. So I like to follow my natural impulse a lot when creating something.

I know that you have done a lot of screen printing, which creates such a beautiful secondary dimension to your work. The texture and imperfections make each piece so special! Do you still do hand screen printing as your go to method of working, or have you developed ways to digitally produce this style as well?

Starting screen printing was a milestone in my development. I’ve learned so much about constructing a piece with just a limited amount of colours. After a while I had produced a vast number of prints, without any possibility to store them. So I decided to try put something new. I never worked digital before, so this was very hard for me. After some fails I finally found a way that satisfied me. Nowadays I mix digital elements with hand drawn pieces to avoid a too clean look.

What are your favourite things in your work station?

My favorite part of my work station is my bookshelf, filled with beautiful vintage east european books and lots of little zines from current artists.

What are some things that consistently influence your work?

I’m constantly on the lookout for special people or situations just around me. My work station has a great view to a very lively park in the middle of the city, so I basically just have to look outside if I'm in need of some ideas.

Detail your ideal/favourite day from start to finish.

Waking up late and getting some apple pancakes for breakfast. After this a little morning swim in a beautiful lake. After that meeting up with friends and just talk about this and that. In the evening a pizza party is obligatory, followed by a bonfire.

And lastly, what is on your standard studio day playlist?

Mostly I listen to some old rap and RnB from the 90s. That sets me into the ideal mood for me to work.

Want to see more of Barbara's work?

Artwork supplied by artist.



Thanks For Having Me Update

It’s been a while since I shared any photos from my upcoming publication TFHM, and there’s a few shoots I missed, so here’s a non-chronological update of where the project is currently at.

I’ve been lucky enough to land some commercial jobs recently, so my personal projects have slowed down significantly. I started Thanks For Having Me in April, and although I never had a specific timeline in mind, it definitely feels like it could go on forever if I don’t cut myself off. It’s easy to keep finessing and adding to projects like this, so I think it’s important for your motivation to make sure you are setting at least some soft deadlines to achieve. I’d like to have the internal spreads down by November, but with the fickle nature of freelance, it might be a little later. Either way, rest assured, it will be finished one day and I promise it will be worth the wait. Here are some more welcomed additions to the already impressive line up. Thank you to everyone who has let me shoot their space recently, and for all the wonderful people who have shared nice words about the photographs. I’m just shy of 2000 followers on IG and I’m stoked on every single one of you.

Photos from the studio of Beci Orpin.

A nice little story to complement these photographs. In 2012, I saw Beci speak at Semi Permanent and was pretty smitten. Incredible artist, lady boss in charge of her own creative journey, paving the way for other young creative women AND a cute haircut – how could you not be! I’ve followed her work ever since and since I started photographing studios, have always dreamed of one day shooting Beci’s. Getting to photograph her space for this project was a dream, and she is honestly one of the sweetest people I’ve had the luck to meet. She spoke at Sydney Semi Permanent earlier this year and used my photographs, so life has a funny way of coming back around and patting you on the back. Thank you Beci, it was a very big honour.

Beci and Alice in Beci Orpin's studio.

Julia Trybala in her home studio.

Emily Green in her studio.

Alexis Winter in her home studio.

The First Day of Spring

I’ve previously spoken about how I met Evie, but we’ve known each other for nearly a year now so this feels like a good time to write a huge post dedicated to our ongoing business relationship/burgeoning personal friendship. Let’s call it the Evie Cahir Masterpost, because I really have no good reason to share this many photos of her in a row besides the fact that I think she is a seriously good egg.

I remember the day Evie first emailed me vividly. 40% because it was incredibly hot and the trauma of walking in the heat always sticks with me, 60% because I knew her work. I was incredibly chuffed anyone would want me to create a promotional film for them, let alone this great artist I already adored. We completed the film in quick succession — condensing three sessions of filming, photos, recording and editing into a fortnight. It was a lot quicker than I had worked on film previously, but it was easy work because being around Evie was comfortable.

It’s true that sometimes you meet people that you feel as if you’ve known for years. Evie is one of those people. She is incredibly warm, her energy is so quick and sharp, and she makes you want to be and do better. To work faster, to laugh louder, to share more. It sounds like a tacky cliche but I’m positive you’ve met people like this before. Their friendship feels like finally coming home from a long trip. Suddenly you’re comfortable – everything feels familiar, happy and very freeing. Evie is such an immense talent that just being around her makes me want to excel. That is exactly the type of person you should spend your time searching for and surrounding yourself with.

This was the third time I’ve photographed Evie and we’ve done it enough times now that we’re at a point where we just fall in to a confident stride. Every shoot is a little better than the last. These particular photographs were taken to accompany an interview, but they were too good to not share myself.

Thanks for making my job easy and enjoyable Evie, I dig ya.

Evie Cahir is a Melbourne based illustrator who’s work can be found herehere and here

Artist Profile Film: Dawn Tan

It's finally here!

A very big thank you to illustrator Dawn Tan, who trusted me with the task of creating this short artist profile film. Dawn and I spent the day together – filming, photographing, laughing, sharing stories, cooking (her) and being generally awe-struck (me). Dawn is a full blown sweetheart, with a voice like honey and an abundance of talent, this film has been one of my favourite projects to date. Granted it came with it’s challenges (editing is not my strong suit), but looking back at the film I am incredibly proud. Another big contributing factor that made this film extra special was the music. My friends Taran Jensen and Tom Vandersluys put together two original compositions, specially for the film. Dawn and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve received so many beautiful messages about how well it complements the footage, and I wholeheartedly agree! Thank you again guys!

Dawn was patient, understanding and helpful throughout this entire project. I hope that when she looks back on this film in the future, she is filled with fuzzy feels.

Watch Dawn speak about her journey, the project that got her started and how food fuels her motivation, amongst some lovely footage of her cooking, gardening and working (if I do say so myself).

Artist: Dawn Tan, represented by Jacky Winter.
Music: Taran Jensen & Tom Vandersluys.
Filming / Direction: Tatanja Ross.