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Where I Work: Kate Banazi

London-born, Sydney-based artist Kate Banazi is definitely one to watch if you don’t already have her in your sights. Her Instagram account is like a heaven where color and geometry meet in perfect harmony and you might remember this cool collaboration she worked on with another designer she met through that very same social media app. Focusing on silk screen printing, her playful work explores layers of graphic components, gridded structures, and bold color palettes that keep your mind intrigued just as much as your eyes. We decided to explore her process further by virtually heading to Sydney, Australia, to check out her art studio and to see a little bit of how she does it, in this month’s Where I Work.

What is your typical work style?

My work style is haphazard, depending on how late I worked the night before and work I have going on. I like to work on Saturdays and take my weekends as a Sunday and Monday, although the nature of what I do means I’m always drawing or working some idea through. I move between silkscreen printing at my studio to working on the computer or sketchbooks at home. Inevitability both places end up filthy.

What’s your studio/work environment like?

I think I’ll admit to messy although my studio mate, Daniel Gray, will probably say it’s much messier than messy – borderline feral.

How is your office organized/arranged?

I work from a factory unit in Sydney. I’m on a mezzanine level which has the kitchen and bathroom attached, so our door is always open and my other studio mates come through often. My space is organized into desk spaces and printmaking space – dry/wet space. I share my space with the illustrator Dan Gray Barnett and the whole unit is shared with a glass artist, a creative and media company and a photographer.

Photo by Jacqui Turk

How long have you been in this space? Where did you work before that?

I’ve been here three years now and before that I was in a beautiful space in Koskela, sharing with Joanna Fowles the textile designer. Before that, I was in my neighbours spare room and on a tiny plastic wrapped balcony at home. I’ve been so lucky with the support and friends I’ve made since I arrived in Sydney who have made space for me or pointed me in the right direction..

If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?

The only thing would be to be able control the heat, the space is too cavernous to have air conditioning so there’s a couple of months of the year which are really bad for printmaking, so it’s always working a way around that as soon as the summer starts to hit.

Is there an office pet?

Stanley my dog comes in with me sometimes, he loves spending time with the other studios – probably because he gets spoilt and they’ve got sofas.

Do you require music in the background? If so, who are some favorites?

I love having the company of music or a podcast, we’ve got eclectic tastes so we keep it democratic with the weekly discover playlist on Spotify and now I’m hooked on the new gems I’m being sent every week. I’ve also been listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast ‘Revisionist History’ which has been really interesting.

How do you record ideas?

Sketchbooks, backs of hands, envelopes, text messages and poorly in my brain.

Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now?

I don’t as everything keeps falling off the walls! I keep everything in sketchbooks, scraps of paper, and folders stacked high.

Photo by Jacqui Turk

What is your creative process and/or creative workflow like? Does it change every project or do you keep it the same?

It tends to differ with each project but always starts with a sketchbook and pencil, it’s my go-to beginning, a therapeutic start and is the easiest process for me to start ideas flowing.

What kind of design objects might you have scattered about the space?

We don’t tend to keep design objects in here as I’m so messy, it’s more of an industrial space. But I’ve got gifts from friends and families, a much loved Joe Colombo Boby trolley which holds all my pencils, a nodding dog from my mum, drawings from my son.

Are there tools and/or machinery in your space?

I’ve got a great selection of power tools plus the usual printmaking tools and machinery, an exposure unit, washbay, vacuum table. Most used tool must be the hairdryer and a scalpel.

What tool do you most enjoy using in the design process?

INK! Does that count as a tool? Pencils, all my equipment… I’m a lover of all my tools.

Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell us about your tech arsenal/devices.

A computer, a Wacom tablet, a scanner, camera and that’s about it.

What design software do you use, if any, and for what?

Photoshop and Illustrator are my tools for creating and producing the filmwork which I send off to be made up.

Is there a favorite project you’ve worked on?

So many that I feel lucky to have worked on with great people or collaborators, a recent one was with my friend Diego Berjon who lives in Spain, which became an across continent collaboration for WeWork in Sydney. We created a big body of work for their new building in Sydney. And the most recent would be the collaboration with Berlei for their centenary – seeing Serena Williams in a bra with my art on it made me cry a little!

Do you feel like you’ve “made it”? What has made you feel like you’ve become successful? At what moment/circumstances? Or what will it take to get there?

I’ve never thought about that because I’m always trying to learn new things by working with people in different disciplines.
I feel successful in that I’m able to work on things I really enjoy or challenge me, within a creative industry that’s constantly changing. Working with great people like LocalDesign gives me a ‘shelter’ to develop ideas and a support system to try new things which I’m never going to take for granted, I’ve worked enough jobs that gave me little joy to know how lucky I am right now and that I’m always learning.

Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?

I’m working on a huge collaborative project with some and getting some new work together for the Stockholm Affordable Art Fair in September, as well as planning a new show in London for next year.

What’s on your desk right now?

I’ve had to clean it, I’m not showing you pictures of half eaten plates of food and moldy coffee cups. This is not a true representation, it is super tidy for me… and I found a load of things that I’d forgotten about!

Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created?

Some clothes, some artwork and lots of not quite rejected objects that I consider are works in progress that sit around gathering dust until someone else quietly disposes of them and I don’t notice.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.