EMERGING DESIGNER – KIRBY MANNING
KIRBY MANNING | DESIGNER
Originally from country South Australia, I moved to the city when I was 17. My nanna, Barbra, is a talented artist, so I had been painting and drawing with her ever since I can remember. Initially, I studied Journalism and International studies because I never really considered art or design to be a career. After fluffing around for a couple of years and realised I needed to be in design.When I began Visual Communications at the University of South Australia, I knew its what I should have done from the start, but in the same sentence, wouldn’t have been ready to sink my teeth into it at that point of my life. I had fantastic teachers that inspired me and made some good mates, with whom I shared a few pints.
I couldn’t wait to finish my degree and get away from Adelaide, so the week after our graduate exhibition, I packed up and moved to Vancouver. My head was definitely not in the design game for the next couple of years and when I returned to Adelaide, I knew I wanted to further my education to return my focus, so I began my Masters in Design.
During my studies, I got in touch with an old mate, who I had studied my undergrad with (and shared a few jugs with), as he was now a photographer at Australian Fashion Labels. I began assisting on shoots, more so to see how he worked as a photographer, but I ended up doing anything from pinning garments to getting coffee. I continued to do this sporadically for almost six months before I was offered a job as the Graphic Designer/Social Media Manager for Cameo the Label. It was definitely a sink or swim situation and thankfully I came out on top.
For the next two and a half years I learned a myriad of skills. Some of my favourite projects were hand cut collages, rebranding the label and directing a short video. I learned to be a skilled photo retoucher, editing roughly 120 images every month, as well as taking care of the labels social media, taking it from 35k to 246k in my two and a half years. I really pushed my skill set with Aus Labels and made lifelong friends.
At the start of this year, I left my fashion family to challenge myself once again. So far this year has provided me with fresh insights on creative skill, as well as small business experience. My main goal from this venture has been to extend my skills in typography and layout. In the short time I have been freelancing, I have been involved in two printed publications, being Krass Journal and CLIQUE Mag. Krass is a leading art and culture journal, which I was fortunate enough to take part as a co-graphic designer, next to Simon Pearce of Frame Design. I am very proud of the final outcome as both the content and design is honest, strong and independent. CLIQUE Mag is a longstanding fashion and lifestyle magazine based in Adelaide. I had the pleasure of executing a portion of the layout and directing the latest cover/editorial shoot.
Freelance has definitely been a challenge. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support from my partner, who has a wonderful entrepreneurial mind. I also had several Graphic Design mentors who listen to me vent over a coffee or let me stop by at 7 pm to go over a project (Cheers AJ and Sim!). I also attended a wonderful conference in Sydney earlier this year, run by a group of amazing young women, called Make Nice. It was a two-day event with amazing guest speakers from around the world, with small group situations that allowed for open discussion about all things creative and freelance, and it was a women-only event! I highly recommend going to as many conferences as you can and Make Nice in particular for all my creative sisters.
Looking back it seems like I’ve achieved quite a lot in a few short years. While I’m definitely proud of all I have done so far, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. New projects, challenges, and skills could not come quick enough. That’s the beauty of this industry – you never stop learning.