Art & Design

5 Minutes With Beci Orpin | Artist, Designer & Author

By Clare Acheson
12th Sep 2015

Beci Orpin is a busy woman. If the name rings any bells, it could be from a whole host of places. The Melbourne-based creative has worked with the likes of Gorman on textile print collaborations, co-runs her own homewares label, Aaro Home, designs the colourful graphics that go along with some of your favourite brands (yup, she's responsible for Taco Truck's amazing look!) and has published a library of books that are packed full of her playful illustrations.  

Beci's latest project sees her turn her hand to children's books. 'Find Me A Castle' is a cute tale of look-and-find, sending the reader on a journey to hunt for dinosaurs, cheese (yusss....) and pink lemonade (double yussss.....). We took five with the awesome creative whirlwind to find out just what makes Beci tick...

You're one of Melbourne's best-known image makers. How did you get into art and illustration?

Aww thanks! I guess I knew I wanted to draw for a living from a very young age. After a few false starts into tertiary education, I ended up studying Textile Design at RMIT. This was the perfect course for me as it combined drawing skills with design and then gave it a practical application, where I was able to use my hands to make stuff.

Once I graduated, I started designing T-shirts for Dangerfield and Revival, and I was also involved in a lot of different things: volunteering at galleries, participated in exhibitions. I guess that gave me a lot of contacts, which lead to more and more work. It slowly snowballed from there. 

How do you begin the creative process? 

Although I work on many different projects the creative process pretty much stays the same. First comes research, looking at current and past things relevant to the project I am working on. Then, gathering inspiration—either things I have collected digitally or in books, or if time allows visiting places outside my studio which might have relevant work too. 

When I was working on the 'Find me a Castle' illustrated book, I tried to look at a lot of my favourite kids' books, and work out why I liked them. I also thought about what books my kids liked best.

Once I have research and inspiration, then I put all that info together and start designing. From there, there is a lot of testing and working out what is best for the current project. Often a lot of that happens digitally, as I can test out ideas really quickly. I don’t tend to work in roughs, I'll send a client or publisher unfinished drawings and continue to work those drawings up until they are finished. 

If you're having a dull day creatively, where do you look to for inspiration?

If I have the time then I leave the studio to find something good to look at. I love nature so the Botanical Gardens are a great place to go. Bike riding can be good for clearing my head. But if I can’t leave the studio then I go to the obvious spot—the internet! Sometimes an hour or so of distraction can be the perfect solution to those crappy days. 

Are there any other Melbourne brands you're watching—fashion, design, artists?

Yes, always! I think it’s so important to know what’s going on locally. I love local clothing designers PAM—they are good friends and a constant inspiration across all disciplines. I also like labels like Verner, Witu, Poms and Kloke. 

In terms of object designers, Daniel and Emma always kill it! Also Dow Jones, Grazia and Co, Pop & Scott, Fictional Objects, Freddy Ganim, Bridget Bodenham, and of course Arro Home is pretty good too! 

As for local artists, Alice Oehr works at my studio and it's always great to see what she is working on. Esther Olssen is one to watch, and I keep tabs on an endless stream of others like Ed Davis, Georgia Perry, Kirra Jamison, Eirian Chapman, Brendan Huntley, Benjamin Lichtenstein, Fred Fowler, and Chrissie Abbot. This morning I just discovered the work of Melissa Grisancich—so nice. I could go on and on forever...

Where are we most likely to find you having brunch?

Haha—nowhere! Between kids and work going out for breakfast is not something I get to do very often. But the cafe I frequent most would be Wide Open Road—it’s close to my studio and the coffee and food is on point! Also my husband Raph's businesses, Juanita Peaches and All Day Donuts, are at the front of my studio...Convenient and delicious too!

And what about if you're celebrating a special occasion, or fancy a posh meal?

Supernormal is my favourite, or any of Andrew McConnell’s restaurants actually. I like Magic Mountain Saloon for late night food and drinks, and Bar Americano is great too.  

Lastly, are there any hidden gems in your neighbourhood we should know about?

Brunswick holds some of my favourite shops—Mr. Kitly, Monkhouse, The Boroughs, and Home are good places to start. Not exactly hidden, but definitely gems…

Thanks, Beci Orpin! You can find out more about Beci and her creative projects via her website, and check out her books here.

Image credit: Tatanja Ross                                               

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