We're BEYOND excited to take you inside Alex Daffara's home this week!
The Meanjin-based graphic designer, artist and founder of Studio Daffa shares her tips & tricks when it comes to having a career in the arts, organizing your creative space and biodegradable cleaning wipes. Every nook of this coloroful home is the stuff of dreams!
Tell us about you! How did you get into graphic design & ceramics?
Well - with graphic design, I finished studying back in 2017 (way before AI was giving us the spooks haha) and I worked at different agencies for a few years. Eventually, I moved cities and started working in-house at a large precinct that manages a bunch of businesses, mostly restaurants. Quite a classic designer path, I'd say. I work as a part-time in-house designer, I freelance sometimes and I work as a part-time potter (basically whenever I can fit it in).
I've always been someone who has a side hustle/project going on in the background. Last year I closed a business I was running for 8 years and was just starting to get the tickle again. I had done a lot of pottery classes growing up, so I just started making clay bits at home. I knew exactly how I wanted to take photos of them. From there, I made some really crap bits but shot them in a cool way and it just started me on this path of re-thinking and building all types of objects. I will say, at the time I thought the stuff I was making was really cool but naturally as your skill level changes so does your work.
What's the story behind starting Studio Daffa?
I spent a year working on it as a secret and really fleshing out a few different 5 year plans. I'm constantly filling my brain with bizz podcasts, so I had them in my ear a little. But at the end of the day, I'm most happy when I get to be creative, just playing and working towards something that sits within my values. I find that as a designer I spend my time working under other people's dreams and guidelines, so having a project on the side is a good way to release of all your ideas and feel content and inspired.
Tell us about your creative process. Where do you find inspiration?
Leaving the place you live in is the BEST inspo! Also long drives. My best thinking is done in the hour's drive to the beach where I grew up. It gives me that feeling of actually letting my brain run. I find myself scrambling for the notes app as soon as i pull up.
But also I'm a big internet user, I'm constantly taking in information when I'm scrolling through social media (and I'm talking all the apps). Naturally, my brain is remixing all the info I consume and out pops an idea! Once I've got an idea, I'll usually draw it in my sketchbook, color it in with colored pencils (like a 10 year-old) and then I go rogue with the clay. I try to keep it playful!
What’s one piece of advice you always go back to when it comes to your career?
Bring on the fails! Fail large & fast. This might be annoying to hear, but wow do I learn the most when I fail at some stage along the way. I think my personality comes into play here, but I don’t overthink what I’m making and just jump in. This leads me to some big fails, but then it also leads me to asking the right questions. Also - being able to receive these fails as a learning experience is key here too. Working as a designer has made me very good at receiving feedback and reworking it.
What makes a space feel like home?
Filling your space with objects, books and bits you've collected throughout your life so far. Always leaving room for more. Aside from the decorative stuff - clean sheets, a shower with good water pressure and vacuumed floors, baby! These are practical, but they keep me calm.
As a creative, what’s your best tip for achieving a sense of balance in your home?
If you're living with other creatives, it does help to have separate areas to be creative and do your thing. Just so you can live your day-to-day, but also escape into your creative practice. I also think knowing what your values in life are and using your time accordingly. Days are short but you can use them in a balanced way if what motivates you is clear.
What are some of your home essentials?
Art that you love. Cordless vacuum (aiming for a robo-vac by the year 2025). Always a spare pack of pasta in the pantry. House plants. Furniture you love and is actually comfortable to sit on! Also, biodegradable cleaning wipes - I'm a big fan.
What are you looking forward to in the next year?
I am looking forward to a big big drop of random objects at Studio Daffa. I've been working away at a big collection of random things with no rules or time constraints, so I'll just drop that whenever I'm ready. I’m trying to keep it chill, I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. But that drop will be awesome! I’m most excited for all the shoot days.
I'm also excited for a collaboration I'm doing with my mum. She's an awesome/talented/incredible woman AND artist, and I'm excited for us to work together.