After transferring from law to communication design, all while touring around the world with West Thebarton, Verse designer Oliver White speaks to Brian Bolado about his dramatic degree change and the nuances of wellbeing while on tour.
Tell us a bit about your creative background. Who is Brian Bolado and how did he get here?
My name’s Brian Bolado. I’m the only child of two Filipino migrants who worked super hard to give me a good education ahead of my twenties. I also have a tattoo of a mango on my arm.
I didn’t have any siblings growing up so I spent most of my childhood being creative or trying to be creative. I had heaps of coloured pencils, crayons and textas which meant I was always drawing, colouring and making up games or stories.
After high school, I took an interest in art, graphic design and photography but held it at arm’s length. I felt like I had missed the boat to hone my skills to the standard of people whose work I looked up to. After mulling it over for months, I quit my job last year and started studying again. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What enticed you into the field of communication design after pursuing law?
Design is the degree I’ve always meant to do. I honestly thought about doing it after graduating high school but fell into the trap of a traditional career and financial security. I studied law and enjoyed aspects of it but, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t identify with other students or people who practised it.
I worked a couple of years in health regulation before pulling up stumps and studying design. I came to the understanding that I needed work that engaged my creativity. Some people walk into work, switch off, do the job and leave like clockwork, but I couldn’t. I found it more and more difficult to find a sense of fulfilment and purpose there, so I looked at my options.
Even though I thought about studying teaching and urban planning, my mind kept wandering back to design. I figured there was a good reason for it. I spoke with a few friends about the course and they felt like it would really suit me.
They weren’t wrong. It ties together all of my interests – art, photography, literature, history, philosophy – in a way that looks forward. It’s developing as a discipline and that’s what I like about it.
Being the guitarist of West Thebarton, I see you go on some lengthy tours. How do you settle back in to normality after travelling for extended periods of time?
Most Australian tours run for a month or two over weekends. There’s plenty of early rises, late nights, waiting around, bad food and sleep-deprived tension to keep you busy. It can be an absolute grind on you both physically and mentally.
I find the normality of routine to be pretty therapeutic. I like to do boring things like cooking, reading, running, swimming and riding my bike, so if I can tick off most of those within the week, I’m pretty happy.
Could you tell us about maintaining healthy wellbeing while on tour?
It can be tough, that’s for sure. There’s a lot sitting around – in planes, lounges, cars, soundcheck, cafes – so it’s good to make the most of the time on your feet when you’re not doing any of those things. In Europe, we travelled across land by coach, so I brought my runners and ran every few days.
Recently, I’ve been trying and go for a swim wherever there’s a pool around. We’ve also made an effort to plan ahead and look for a decent place for a feed these days but sometimes we’re so time poor that we have to settle on something.
Between weekends, I ride every day then run or swim a few times, but I tend to do that even if we’re not on the road. I figured if this is something we’re going to do long-term, I better get on top of it and look after myself so the tour lifestyle doesn’t avalanche out of control.
In terms of mental health, we try and give each other the space and support needed. We talk on the regular and see each other every week. Most of the band have dealt with mental health in the past so it’s encouraging to be part of family that’s super understanding. Killer shows and rehearsals are great but it means next to nothing if your best mates are having a hard time.
How does your background in music and law influence your design process?
Law’s pretty different to music and design. It’s more structured and methodical but I guess my background’s helped with communicating ideas, interpreting language and constructing arguments.
It’s hard to say whether or not music has a direct influence, but I’ve definitely learned a few things about song writing and performing:
- Go with the flow and chase that idea as far as it takes you.
- You come up with good ideas (sometimes), bad ideas (always) and that’s okay.
- Lay it down and come back to it tomorrow.
- You can work on something for as long as you like. Nothing helps more than showing people you trust.
I just do my best to enjoy every stage of the process these days. Having two creative outlets, both professional and personal, is a pretty fortunate position to be in.
Do you have any advice for others looking to change career paths?
Talk about it. Chat to your friends, family, peers and staff. Chances are they’ve done something similar or know someone who has and are all the better for doing so. It helps to reframe what you don’t like about your current career path, into what you personally need from a career.
Interview conducted by Oliver White
Photo supplied by Nick Astanei (@nnixz)