Raiya Ernst, Jade Langford, Sheydin Dew.
Tamara Montina converses with 3 UniSA creatives on their artistic discipline
Tell us about yourself and your creative practice!
JADE: Hey! I’m Jade. I’m studying a Bachelor of Creative Industries, majoring in Communications and Media with a minor in digital media. I’m in my last year of uni but for the last seven years have also been working as a hairdresser.
SHEYDIN: Hello! I’m Sheydin – an Adelaide Hills based comic creator and artist, otherwise known as Sheydedart online! I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Design: Communication Design, but outside of uni, I love nothing more than to develop my comic “No Man’s Land”, a roller skating series with an all girls cast! If I’m not found sketching or doodling, I’m usually found boxing at my club in the Adelaide Hills or chatting about some of the best Aussie comics on the ComX Net AU live streams!
RAIYA: Hi, I’m Raiya! I recently graduated from the Bachelor of Architectural Design, and I am currently doing my Master of Design (Interior Architecture) – I switched it up a little as I want specialise specifically in interiors. Outside of my studies, I do freelance work as a stylist! Mostly just collaborative photoshoots with other creatives, but some work for publications such as Homebound, campaigns, etc.
Every creative has an origin story, do you recall any early memories sparking interest in your creative practice? What or who motivates your creative pursuits?
JADE: I’ve always been a creative person, from a young age I loved painting and all things messy. But I kind of fell into hairdressing (and then editorial shoots) on a bit of a whim but ended up loving the creativity that came with the job.
I find inspiration in all kinds of places, from movies and books, i especially love the instagram page @velvetcoke. They post great pop culture media from across the decades.
SHEYDIN: I’ve been told that ever since I could really hold a pencil was when I began my creative endeavours, doodling anything and everything on furniture, my mum’s uni assignments and even my dad’s very important work diaries! Growing up, I taught myself how to draw by sketching pictures from one of my all time favourite children’s book “Bedtime Stories” by Shirley Barber when I was 5. I was always so amazed at how beautifully drawn her illustrations were of fairies, which is why she was one of my first influences in my creative career. These days, a lot of my inspiration is derived from the Dutch digital artist, Lois van Baarle, otherwise known as Loish on Instagram. Her understanding of colour in her work, has always motivated me experiment with my own art style.
RAIYA: Since I was a kid I have always really loved fashion. My sister and I would dress up and do “runway shows” for my family all the time. As a teenager I got really into thrifting and began to learn how to piece together outfits with the clothes I found. As for styling specifically, it kind of happened accidentally for me, just by helping a friend’s photoshoot and that got me to where I am today. But I continued with it as it truly reignited that passion and fun I had with fashion and creating outfits when I was younger. I’m pursuing my creative outlet as a kid now as an adult, which is a really fulfilling feeling.
My creative pursuits always come and go. I become fascinated with a subject or practise by seeing it online or in a shop or exhibition, but haven’t really ever stuck to one thing, besides styling. For example I’m really interested in furniture design at the moment, facilitated by my studies. I would say what motivates me is that I am able to try different things and see where it takes me, whether it stays as something I’ve done once or becomes a full blown hobby or job. I don’t have to stay in one lane and it’s ok if things don’t work out, it’s just good to try and start somewhere. I didn’t think styling would work out for me, but I’ve done a few shoots now and it somehow has been the thing people recognise me as, which blows my mind. I have met so many amazing people and creatives in Adelaide in the last year, I am honestly truly inspired by the talent this small city holds and it’s amazing to watch everyone grow and showcase their talents.
The workload while studying at Uni can be overbearing at times, how do you manage to complete creative projects while juggling your study commitments?
JADE: I ask myself this still. And sometimes put myself under more pressure than needed to try and fit everything in. To help myself with this I make sure I have everything I’m working on/planning in my calendar. I find that it frees up space in my head and helps me see where I should be spending time on certain tasks.
SHEYDIN: Calendars and more calendars! I’d like to think I’m a pretty organised individual juggling 2 jobs and personal projects while studying, and my greatest habit that has kept me in check, is ‘time blocking’. Everyday I take time in the morning to divide my day into blocks including work, study, time with friends and family, exercise and enough sleep! It’s not always easy, however, by making sure my top priorities are completed, I can always rest assured I’ve don’t the best I possibly can for that day. I always leave at least one day per week where I don’t schedule anything, so I’m still free to do whatever my little heart desires in the moment!
RAIYA: I’m not the best when it comes to juggling multiple commitments to be honest. It depends how my workload is at a certain time with uni, but I would say I try to keep my styling jobs at times where uni isn’t so hectic or in my breaks. Of course, styling has become a huge passion of mine, but my studies do come first so I just have to pick and choose if the time and effort it takes for a shoot is doable or if we can work around my schedule. For the most part it’s been pretty good so far though.
What has been the highlight of your journey as a creative so far?
JADE: I just love working with a range of different people, collaborating on different projects and bringing ideas to life is so fun. I love when people come to me with wild ideas that push my boundaries. While it’s always nice to have your work published, I always love the relationships and work we have built together.
SHEYDIN: So far there have been many milestones in my creative journey! Earlier this year I sold my artwork at AVCON for the very first time, having wanted to do so for many, many years! Another goal of mine was to exhibit my artwork in a SALA event, and when I was invited to be part of a SALA exhibition by my old design teacher from school, I had no idea that I would go on to sell my piece too! However, to take the cake for me so far, was to have the honour of judging over 100 Australian comics, for the Comics Arts Award of Australia, previously known as The Ledgers Awards! It was from this privilege, that I was able to marvel at the immense talent and diversity in the Aussie comics community!
RAIYA: That’s tough as I am still building my experience, so I just appreciate every job I’m asked to work on! I would say that the Homebound shoots have been really fun as I get a lot of creative freedom to style and we do many outfits so there’s a lot to work with.
How has your degree informed your craft?
JADE: It’s given me an insight to where I can push my creative work. I’ve been lucky enough to work with great people who have assisted me in bringing my ideas to life but everything would just go on social media after.
I wanted to do this degree to give me an idea of where and how I could drive this to be more. Something we are all guilty of is looking at projects on social media that took hours of planning and executing for it to then get a moment of attention and, if you’re lucky, a like.
SHEYDIN: Studying here at Uni SA, has really helped in developing an eye for composition in all aspects of my work, whether it be an artwork or designing my own comic. The skills and people I have met have met thus far in my degree have been extremely helpful in creating foundation to what I hope is the start of an incredibly fun design journey!
RAIYA: I think the lens I look at fashion and building outfits is somewhat informed by what I’ve learnt in my studies so far in architecture and interiors. I think design skills and techniques definitely can definitely be applied to curating and crafting outfits, especially when it comes to texture, materiality, colour, transparency and other elements like that, and I try to keep that in mind when doing so.
What advice would you impart on students who are seeking creative pursuits outside of their degrees?
JADE: Work with as many people as you can, try not to get stuck in the same group of people. It’s obviously more than okay to have your core group you work well with but make sure you’re challenging yourself!
SHEYDIN: My best piece of advice for others wanting to test the waters with any creative pursuit is to reach out and get in touch with other like minded people! University is certainly one of the best places to do this, with the many student clubs dotted around the place! With regards to comics, Adelaide is such a hot spot for indie creators, and is such a welcoming community! There is always something happening on the comics scene, be it on Discord or at the many local markets! You’re just bound to meet some fantastic creatives to help you get started!
RAIYA: I would honestly say just go for it. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to try but it’s completely different to what you’re studying, do it anyway! It doesn’t have to be related to what you’re studying. I think everyone need some sort of outlet anyway and if that is a creative pursuit for you then give it a go. The best thing would be to try and make connections within that creative field that could bolster your work and help you practise and develop. I know it can be daunting at first, but that one interaction can honestly lead to so much more. Even if you try doing it just by yourself at first, it’s good to sort of have a portfolio or visual diary, like an instagram to showcase your work if you want others to see or connect with people. Besides that, just take it day by day and practise when you can, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you need to focus on your study, just do little bits in your free time as an outlet from the stress of studying. I believe in you!