Meet Tess Robinson: Newest Guest to the Blog Party

29 March 2016

Here at CATC central, we're all about producing interesting design content for our students and non-students alike. That's why we're stoked to introduce you to CATC's new guest blogger, Tess Robinson. Tess is the Owner and Creative Director of Smack Bang Designs, a of Sydney-based studio specialising in lively design creative strategy. To get to know her, we asked her about her thoughts on creativity, her career and what it takes to make it in design.

CATC: What convinced you design was your raison d'être?

TR: From a very young age I have always been making and creating, turning my wild ideas into works of art. My initial Clag glue and kraft paper addiction evolved with age into a more refined obsession with scrapbooking and, later in life, turning drawings into digital illustrations. So a life of graphic design seemed like the ideal choice. Design has been an innate part of me since I could use my hands, and to be honest I've never really imagined myself doing anything else.

CATC: What's been the proudest moment of your career?

TR: A little while ago we were contacted by Westfield to do some branding for a cool new space they were launching. I was over the moon when they mentioned they had wrapped up their relationship with another provider in order to pursue us because they felt that Smack Bang was producing a higher calibre of work. When I found out that the other agency was my all-time favourite studio who I'd idolised as a young designer, I nearly fell off my chair!

CATC: What's your design philosophy to live by?

TR: If I had to sum up my thoughts on design in one sentence it would be something like this: The simpler the brand, the clearer the message; the clearer the message, the bigger the response.

CATC: In your mind, what makes good design into great design?

TR: My personal preference is clean, fresh design with plenty of negative space. I have a thing for strong, dynamic type and super clean lines. I think good design has the perfect balance between space and subject with a good lashing of personality.

CATC: How do you approach a difficult brief (or client)?

TR: With as much patience as I can muster! It is super important to do your best to understand the client's position, get inside their head and work out what it is that they want. Fishing in the dark will get you nowhere. Ask as any many questions as you can to further understand what it is that they're after and clarify any grey areas before getting started.

CATC: What's the biggest mistake first-time designers most often make?

TR: Trying to push their idea or the latest trend onto a brief without first considering what the brief is. I see so many designers just trying to fit their idea of what is "cool" or "on-trend" to any old brief rather than coming up with a tailored solution and original creation.

CATC: What's your dream project?

TR: I feel like I've had so many dream projects land on my desk. I'm one lucky gal. I guess the dream project for me is something that has a greater purpose than to just sell something or make it look pretty. I love working on projects that I know are adding value to the world, changing people's perceptions and having a bunch of fun along the way.

CATC: Tell us about what's on your bookshelf. Do you have any recommended reads for design rookies?

TR: There are so many! Here's my top three:

* The Brand Gap, by Marty Neumeier

* Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon

* How to Use Graphic Design to…, by Michael Bierut

CATC: If you could jump in the DeLorean and go back in time – Back to the Future-style – what advice would give to a younger version of yourself?

TR: Ask more questions and don't be so damn worried about what people think of you. It will all work out.

CATC: What's the best thing about a career in design?

TR: The continuous learning, on-going creative outlet, exciting challenges and the creative community that you're a part of.