CASSIE BYRNES + KEN DONE
"Ken Done, what a legend. Ken has always been a design idol of mine so getting the chance to meet and annoy him with heaps of questions was an absolute bucket list moment for me. I always loved how Ken applied his art to products, and felt that his design approach and creative process kind of resonated with my specific style of work.
When we met I was a couple of weeks into a new Summer project of my own that focuses heavily on the Great Barrier Reef as source material – and as Ken has studied this extensively (he is the god of reef art in my opinion) I was super keen to learn about his approach to studying it. We chatted and he explained that it’s tough to compare your own art to nature because nothing will ever be as beautiful as the real thing. He said to put the reference books away and design from memory and bring your interpretation of what the reef is to you, to life. Basically, not to be so literal and try to be more emotive. He also suggested to get out and see the world and immerse yourself in real experiences that you can use as inspiration when designing next. Great advice for any artist, and has helped me loosen up and get through a few creative blocks since.
I asked Ken what his favourite project or collab was to work on, and he said it would have to be the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I'd always thought that designing to 'represent Australia' would be my dream commission, and how cool it is that design can actually be a way for artists to be involved in such historical moments in time.
Another favourite moment of the day was Ken showing me that his first artwork was still hanging proudly in his studio, and still available as a print in his store. A good reminder that we all start somewhere, and how much we can evolve as creatives throughout the decades and how sentimental those first works will always be. We also decided that my first born due in September will be named Kennita in honour of the great man himself.
Portrait by Eve Wilson