Collaboration is in the heart of Milligram Studio’s ethos, and we are very excited to announce 2019’s diary collaboration is with vibrant, Sydney-based, award-winning artist and designer Evi O. Her dynamic artwork will adorn the 2019 diary covers in a unique artwork series that uses bold colours and abstract composition to create space, energy and movement.
The 2019 diary series is called, TEMPO and showcases movement through time.
Tempo reflects the gracious flow of time — to move and stop, to act and rest…
Drawing inspiration from the musical momentum, the geometric and dot compositions used throughout the TEMPO series portray varying states of pace and rhythm.
Presented as three original cover artworks: Adagio, Vivace and Allegro, as well as unique endpaper designs, we hope the Milligram Studio and Evi O diary collection will bring joy and the tools to find your rhythm as you move throughout your year.
We chat to Evi O to understand a little bit more about her inspiration and where it all began.
Tell us about yourself. Who is Evi O?
I am just that person who finds joy in playing/working. I do that daily with my studio crew of 3 , designing publications and brand identities, illustrating vegetables, gin bottles, portraits and many more, and of course, painting abstract pieces based on fascinating topics and things I came across in my life. I do all that with music in the background, always.
When did you discover design and what made you want to be a creative?
I have always been a bookworm and found myself studying illustrations a lot when I was a child, so I guess the calling to be creative has always been there. I discovered design thinking when I entered Uni (I went to University of Technology, Sydney).
Following that, a decade of work experience taught me even more what design is and I think helping people communicate ideas and solving problems got me addicted to creativity.
You have a distinct style that we love. Do you define your style? Is there an underlying concept behind your artwork?
I guess you can call my style abstract and minimal, but it happens gradually and naturally. Style-wise, I started quite intricately and as my thinking and practise matured I find it more challenging to deliver messages in the most simple forms.
All artworks always start with an idea. I tend to paint in collection, rather than single pieces, as I find it important to explore an idea through a series of works, rather than a one-off.
Your creation for Milligram Studio is based on the movement of time. Talk us through the concept and creative process in developing the artwork for the 2019 diary range.
The Milligram team is a bunch of clever bananas, they initially came with the concept of exploring time, and style-wise they were drawn to my latest collection ‘Jungle’ and how they see those shapes as movement and speed, instead of say, a snake or a fish. This idea then was explored further, there were heaps of sketches of composition and colour combination, before the final artworks are curated onto a series we now call ‘Tempo’.
You’ve won countless awards for your design work over the years. Can you explain the feeling of what it’s like when your work is awarded? Has the feeling changed over time?
The feeling surely hasn’t changed. It is a great feeling to have your works acknowledged by your peers, and surely is a validation, and good way to remind yourself to keep doing the good work.
What’s your favourite piece of work in your portfolio? Why?
That is a very tough question, and I don’t think I can answer that. Each project has played a part in shaping who I am now as a creative. But if you ask of recent ones, I can perhaps name three.
‘Jungle’ – my latest body of work – is definitely one, as it’s been brewing for two years in my head before it’s realised. The Planthunter Book, which I’m working on with Georgina Reid and Daniel Shipp, because it’s got important ideas, won’t spill too much now, but it will be out later this year and make sure you snap one. I’ve also been loving collaborating with publisher Kate Pollard in London on books, she’s got clever mind and eye, and our work for Tim Anderson’s book, Japaneasy was a personal favourite, as I got to draw sumo wrestlers, godzillas and countless ramen.
And if I may add one more, as it’s no secret I’m obsessed with Tokyo, is the latest book I did for Smith Street Books with publisher Hannah Koelmeyer, photographer Alana Dimou and stylist Nat Turnbull, titled Tokyo Local. It’s written by the Caryn and Brendan Lieu from Chotto Melbourne, and it’s a trip back to my favourite place on earth.
What has been your biggest achievement or favourite moment to date?
I’m not sure if it’s an achievement, but my little solo design practice has recently grown into a trio, (four, if you count the whippet) and my team, Susan and Jack, add colours to my creative days. We’ve been having fun doing creative stuff in our Marrickville studio. Three brains are definitely better than one.
You’ve now gone on to run your own studio. How did this come about?
The start of the studio happened naturally and consciously too. Naturally, and practically, because good projects I can’t say no to kept coming to the studio, but consciously, as I feel tackling projects collaboratively end up with better results. And it’s more fun to listen to music together than just by yourself. Yes, music is very important to our days.
Can you tell us a business (or life) lesson you learnt since starting your company?
To try not to worry about too much, to take and solve problems daily, without forgetting the big vision. And to find balance in life and work, which I’m still working hard on.
What other designers, creatives or brands do you admire?
So many. My hero list includes Yayoi Kusama for her obsessiveness, Henrik Vibskov for his genius mind – would love to say hello one day!, Etel Adnan for her purposeful art and Geoff McFetridge for his smooth lines. And the list goes on and on.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists and designers?
To make sure work feels like play.
Do you have a favourite notebook brand?
The Midori Traveler’s Journal pack has been my loyal companion for the past 5 years. I have a monthly calendar in it and dotted notebook, all bound within the now-weathered black leather.
Paper diary or digital planner?
Paper all the way. I tried digital earlier this year and very successfully failed.
Do you have any go-to stationery tools or brands?
I’m old-fashioned and nostalgic. Nice stationery was always part of my childhood and I actually still use the same brands. Pilot for pens – in varying forms, I stock up when I hit Tokyo; Staedtler for pencils – I have a canister full of sharpened pencils in the studio. The pencil sharpener is a classic Carl Angel-5 that I had since a kid.
What’s next for Evi O?
I’d love to meet more like-minded people and brands to collaborate with our studio, anyone? Art-wise, I’m thinking of the next big painting collection, I’m really itching to get dirty with inks again. There’s no slowing down in the horizon, just yet 😉