It's been quite a decade for Timba Smits since he graduated from the Melbourne full-time course at Shillington in 2000. Not only does he run his successful design studio, he's also co-launched street-culture bible Wooden Toy Quarterly magazine, a must-read for all design fiends. Timba has won a number of awards including Desktop 2007 Designer Of The Year and the 2009 British Council Realise Your Dream Award, which will see him fly to the UK to work with some of the top mentors in the industry. As well as presenting at Semi-Permanent, we are lucky to have Timba come in and guest lecture at the college from time to time and his informative talks are not to be missed.
Why did you decide to do the Shillington course?
At the time I really wanted to learn graphic design but didn't really want to commit myself to a three-year course like a lot of my friends. Shillington was the best possible course for me. I already knew a bit about design and was after the correct training in how to use computers and graphics programs and Shillo had these things down pat.
What was the most valuable thing you took away from the course?
Straight up! Learning how to work under pressure and cram huge workloads into small pockets of time. The course itself is a perfect example of this. Trying to learn in three months, what others take three years to learn, was an immediate sign that it was going to be a challenging career to pursue. It has never looked like getting any easier, even after ten years of being out in the real world but that’s what I love about it. It's one huge challenge!
Did you feel confident about entering the design industry after you graduated?
Definitely! Shillo gave me the program knowledge and confidence in my design to be able to play with the best of them straight out of college. The experience thing seemed to be a bit of a kickback at first but I decided to go out on my own, forging a freelance career that has led me to where I am at today.
What was your first design role?
Designing flyers and press ads for a nightclub in South Melbourne shortly after graduating. Crap pay but free drinks! Can you complain about that?
What do you love about being a designer?
To me it's simple...being able to do what I want to do. To inspire others and challenge myself to create thought-provoking design with no boundaries. I’m simply in love with the idea of being consistently creative.
What would be your dream project?
Well, actually I'm living my dream project already...WOODEN TOY. The mag is seriously the most amazing experience I've ever had or had the pleasure of working on. I don't ever feel like I'm working and I hope the dream never ever ends!
How do you feel giving a lecture rather that listening to it?
Listening to a lecture and being inspired is great! But it's another thing to give a lecture and be the ONE to inspire. Nothing beats the satisfaction you feel after being responsible for changing a whole room of people into thinking differently with their own design or giving someone the confidence that they can do this too. It's really amazing and something I never thought I'd fall into but I’m sure glad I was given the chance. It's something I really appreciate and jump at whenever I can. I believe in paying it forward and sharing ideas on a bigger level.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Above anything else materialistic, such as the awards, it’s realising that I've somehow landed a position where I'm seen as a very important role model to so many young emerging designers through what I do. It really is the highlight and is more important to me than anything else. Just pure and simple, my work inspires and evokes opinion in so many and you can’t beat that.
Where do you see yourself in 12 months?
Living and working in the UK. I feel it's time after having worked so hard to make a name for myself here in Melbourne and Australia. I want to spread my wings and go play with the big kids on the Euro scene. I have Dutch blood in me so I've always felt a strong pull towards doing this but have been waiting for the right time. After having earnt a four-month scholarship in the UK it seems like the right time. I am sad to be leaving MY Melbourne. I love this place and it will be a big change but super exciting and an opportunity that I'll be grabbing by the horns!