Shyanne Clarke is our go to for all things graphic design, illustration and digital creative. We chat to her about productivity, career and doing the things you love.
Q1: In your own words, please tell us what you do and how it came to be…
Oh Man! This is such a long story. Let me try and give you the ‘in a nutshell’ version. haha.
Well I am an Illustrator and Graphic Designer/Digital Creative and combining those skills, right now, I design textile prints for swimwear. I also design Squarespace websites and do digital creative graphic design, like editorial style pdfs for e-courses + ebooks + workshops. I also have original artworks, Illustrations and digital collages that you can find at Whitepepper here on the Sunny Coast.
I also teach beginners photoshop / digital collage workshops between here and Byron. I’m pretty multi passionate, hence all the hats. I like it this way.
How it came to be, well I have always been creative, drawing, painting, making things. I didn't actually know what textile design or even graphic design was until I was in my mid 20’s. I’d had a desire to have my artwork on surf brand clothing in my teens but I didnt know how that process happened. The first time I applied to design school when I was about 20, I was actually knocked back because I really didnt know anything about how to use a computer (seems crazy now that I think about it.)
I had an online business that I bought just after I had my second baby and I met Alana Gunn at a fireman’s ball in Port Macquarie, she was just starting her textile design print studio Kukukachu.
When she told me what she did, it was like lightning hit me, this is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life but didn't know what the bloody hell it was. So she mentored me and I was her intern for a while. We lived in different states so in the beginning a lot of the textile design was self taught. I then applied for design school again when I was about 28 and did Graphic Design.
It's just all naturally expanded and unfolded from there, to here where I am today.
Q2: Where are you from, and how did you come to be living life as you know it? Was this always on the cards for you or did you have another dream growing up?
I’m from all over, we moved around heaps when I was a kid, but majority of my childhood was in a little seaside village on the ‘Great Sandy Strait’ - Tin Can Bay. I went to three High Schools, younger grades at Gympie High and then Terrigal High + Port Macquarie High. I moved out of home to the Gold Coast, did a season in the snow + met my husband in Sydney when I was 19. We eventually came and settled here on the Sunshine Coast for our kids to start school.
When I was in high school, I wanted to own a surf shop. I was desperately obsessed with the beach and just wanted those surf vibes all over me. I was also super creative and into surf style fashion. I figured out pretty quickly that retail was not the life for me and ended up eventually working in the bank, as a lending specialist and then as a customer service analyst and coach. Which I was later made redundant on mat leave.
With my mat leave money, I bought a business, rebranded it and flipped it for 3x its worth. This brought back my love of creativity and opened my eyes to designing digitally and so began the beginning steps on the journey to becoming a textile designer and graphic designer.
Q3:What is your biggest pinch-me career moment?
Definitely being on this blog and creating the textile designs for Abby Rose 😉
I’ve had a few pinch me career moments, my designs featured locally and internationally on brands stocked in Myer, David Jones, Nordstromm. I’ve been featured and have artwork in magazines and blog posts and stores. For me though, these moments that I expected would feel great because I really wanted them, that once they happened, I realised, they weren’t as important as what I had first thought. I’ve been grateful for these moments to show me and help me pivot to what I truly value and want in my career. Don't get me wrong, I’m proud of these achievements, but I challenge myself with something more aligned to what sets my heart on fire and these things are just great extras.
Actually, something that really was a pinch-me career moment, was when I met Samantha Wills after a Business Chicks event. She was touring Australia just after she had closed her jewellery label. I have followed and loved Samantha Wills for quite a few years and I have always admired her as a creative and woman in business. Leading up to the event, I had written a piece that was featured on the Samantha Wills Foundation, I was pretty stoked that it was chosen to be published. Well after the event, at the meet and greet, I introduced myself and she knew who I was, her exact words were ‘Shyanne! as in the Shyanne.’ Well my name isn't that common haha, but I was totally star struck that she had remembered me. I pretty much just stared at her freakily after that with my mouth agape and stuttering. Then we hugged and I haven't had a shower since (jokes!)
Q4:What’s your key to productivity day in, day out?
If I am feeling myself in procrastination mode, I just sit down and do 10 mins of it. I tell myself I don't have to get it all done, I just need to do 10 mins. Most of the time, its just getting through that initial fart assing around and I always get more done than I expect. And when I am organised like this, I feel way better. Less rushing at the other end.
Also, I read a brief and then I go away and come back to it the next day. This gives my brain to creatively percolate and brainstorm and I find that is really helpful for productivity.
Q5: There’s obviously a lot of elements involved in what you do. What do you find the most satisfying?
When I have a good brief to create to and I am inspired by the brand I am working with or the design they want me to bring to life, that is the best feeling.
As for specifics, by far creating beautiful editorial style PDF’s with digital collages and hand drawn elements and fun handwriting is my fave right now. Also beefy Squarespace website design, with all the same goodness and magic. I really enjoy a brand where my style is a perfect match and its just creative flow and its even better when I get to do lots of design work for them, like workshop handouts and e-course layouts and website design.
Q6: What are you passionate about?
Palm trees. The smell of coconut. Colour.
And being a good human and learning how to do life + biz better for all life.
Q7: What are your top 3 superpowers?
I’m curious, observant and I have a very distinct style and energy.
Q8: We’ve all experienced those times in business where you just feel like throwing in the towel. What tools have you learnt to get you through these difficult times?
Take a breath. Walk away and give yourself time before reacting. Go through the initial emotion of it and then try and expand out and look at it objectively.
I also reckon, if you’ve got to the wanting to throw in the towel point, your life is a bit out of balance, so go and do something that makes you happy - find the creative spark of life and go do that for a minute.
Say FUCK IT! over and over until you laugh, then you cry about it, then you laugh about it again. That always helps.
Q9: What advice would you impart on the next generation of women?
Be strong and vulnerable in who you really are. Be curious and try things on, but ultimately, what ever you choose to do, do it to the best you can today, keep growing and always go with the option that is socially and environmentally responsible. Remember that there is always time, don't rush, play the long game, your best work might not happen til your 70 - and that is pretty fucking awesome.
Q10: What does happiness look like through the eyes of Shyanne?
I am a human that loves doing life, even in the shit of it all, I’m still enjoying it, I’m crying about it, but deep inside I’m loving the journey. Ultimate long term happiness for me, would be to just continue to be paid to do this thing I love, staying inspired creatively and having time left over to play and love my family. Oh and I also need the beach, the beach is essential to this happiness.
Q11: Do you have a morning ritual?
I used to get excited to go to bed because I knew as soon as I woke up I would have a delicious coffee, but just recently I went off having a coffee first thing in the morning. Now my routine is mostly just somewhere between trying to drink a tea without a million questions + a mad rush getting the kids ready for school on time.
Actually I do love that dawn feeling, getting outside and just sitting in the air of it. That is a good start to the day.
Q12: Where is your favourite place in the world to have a vino? Where are you off to next?
Just take me to any beach and I would be happy to have a vino there. I do like taking our reclining camp chairs down to Moffat Beach here on the Sunny Coast and watching the sunset with a vino in hand.
Otherwise, for my 30th bday, we went to this amazing Mexican restaurant in Hawaii, Buho, that I have thought about nearly everyday since, a vino was pretty good there too.
As for where we are off to next, we are going camping just locally with the kids in the school hols. But big trip planning, we are heading back to Hawaii for my little sisters 30th (back to that mexican place) and possibly jumping over to LA on the way home to take the kids to Disneyland before they are too cool to hang in the most magical place on Earth.
Q13: Who, or what are you listening to or reading right now?
I’m really loving the ‘One Wild Ride’ podcast at the moment.
Just really interesting interviews with rad humans doing great things in biz. Its got an activist undertone that I love and I’m getting to know of more brands that I haven't crossed paths with.
As for reading, I read a lot, right now I have four books on the go:
Life lessons from a brain surgeon - Dr Rahul Jandial
Jack Charles: Born-again Blackfella
Surf By Day, Jam By Night - Ash Grunwald
All the light we cannot see - Anthony Doerr
Q14: One last thing… share with us a quirky fact about yourself! Something that people might not know about you?
I watch the movie ‘The Proposal’ at least once a month.
I really love Hallmark movies, I know they are B grade, but I love that small town nostalgia story line.
I can't go to bed without having a shower. Even if I have a shower and go out to dinner or down the shop, I still have to come home and have a shower before I go to bed.
I love magic, not the magician kind, the magic magic kind.
I’m also a reiki master.