Matt, Alicia, Jarrid – T-1 Commons
Design is one of those totally hipsterised fields where you have to be on the cutting edge, else you’re on the cutting room floor, add to that you anything west of Surry Hills is smeared in a stigma of being a creative wasteland.
So where does that leave the designers who are choosing to study, live and work outside the city centre where the bulk of events and networking take place?
A group of Western Sydney University Design students have decided to tackle the issue head on by creating T-1 Commons, a networking website for visual communicators from Western Sydney. They’ve created an accessible space for designers to network and creating a community of cool kids who just want to make great shit where they are.
The Westies: What’s the concept of T1 commons and how did it get started?
Alicia: Our teacher Kat told us that Sydney Design Festival was coming up and we started talking about what we could do to be part of it.
Jarrid: The theme for the festival this year was Access, so that’s part of the reason we went with the idea, we are all Western Sydney based and wondered how we could improve access to design.
Alicia: We came up with T-1 Commons, It’s a networking website for visual communicators from Western Sydney to show their own work and be able to network with other designers in the area, eventually we will run events in the area, at the moment the focus is on getting profiles up.
The Westies: Matt, tell me how the site works?
Matt: To get listed you can go onto the website https://t1commons.org fill out a form with some simple details of who you are, and what you do as a visual communicator, and upload some images of your work, they will get sent to us, to do a bit of a quality check then we will create a portfolio for the applicant.
If you are looking for a visual communicator you can filter through certain categories such as student, graduate, and professional designer, and within that they can look for visual communicators that do branding, illustration, photography, videography etc. You can view some of their work, and read their bio plus check out any links to their online portfolios and social media.
“there’s so many positive attributes about Western Sydney, there’s so much stuff that you see here that you’re not going to see in Bondi or Manly.”
The Westies: Why the focus on Western Sydney?
Jarrid: In Western Sydney there isn’t a big network of designers, there’s Mountains Made and TDK (The Design Kids) and all theses things that are around us but don’t include us. It’s like they build a wall around Western Sydney and mark it as the place you don’t go to.
Matt: Without T1 commons there is no where for Western Sydney creatives to be seen
The Westies: Where you seeing events taking place outside of Western Sydney were they something you felt a part of?
Matt: Yes, always in the city. A lot of the time I would see a great event; a networking night or a workshop and it would be in the city and I just couldn’t make it in there after being at uni, it was too far to travel so I just wouldn’t go.
Jarrid: We are hoping that by creating T1 commons and making designers in Western Sydney more visible it might lead to more events in Western Sydney, there are a whole heap of designers that find it hard to get to the city after work.
I have discussed with people who hold events in the city and I’ve asked them about hosting something in Western Sydney and they have said “yes, but it would be too hard for people to get out there after work” There’s an assumption that there aren’t already people in Western Sydney who would attend.
The Westies: Why do you think those assumptions are made?
Matt: I think it’s got to do with the history of Western Sydney, and the perception of the place. If someone tells you you’re one thing enough, you probably are going to fall into believing that you are the thing, it’s quite hard to break from that.
There’s that idea that you’re from Western Sydney, you’re just a blue-collar worker, you don’t really have much of a future, you’re not creative, and fantastic, and all these things.
Jarrid: Yes, I think that Western Sydney Uni is on a big upswing. There are so many more opportunities being made available.
Matt: There is a little pride in being from the West now.
“I think that for me what’s really important is not fighting this perception that we are Bogans on the outer edge of the city. What we’re doing instead is showcasing and highlighting the true side of Western Sydney”
The Westies: When I grew up in Penrith, I actually had a great time but there was always this sense if you want to succeed you need to get out. What makes all of you want to stay here, and not move?
Matt: I can see the opportunity here now, I can feel a sense that it can happen for us here. It doesn’t need to be somewhere else, we don’t need to go outside of Western Sydney to make it happen. There are a lot of exciting things happening, in terms of Parramatta becoming more of a central point and Penrith and all these places are getting revamped, there’s a lot of people with a lot of culture. I think it’s just exciting here, there’s a lot of big exciting things happening.
The Westies: What do you think that Western Sydney has to offer specifically design-wise?
Jarrid: Fresh ideas. We come from such a different background to someone from the Eastern Suburbs so obviously, we all look at the world in a different way, and it’s good to be like that.
Alicia: I think our course (at UWS) was really amazing too. I think we were really lucky. We have these lectures from all these different aspects of life, who work in Western Sydney themselves, and they really pushed for us to do well.