For the first instalment of Studio Space for 2016 I visited the workspace of Spencer Harrison, a graphic artist, designer, illustrator and educator, based in Melbourne. You might have seen some of his work around - he creates eye-catching patterns under the name Rhythm and Repeat and recently designed the excellent book The Craft Companion. He also sets aside time to work on his art practice and on top of that, he teaches graphic design part-time. Oh, and he's got degrees in both nanotechnology and visual communication and he's not yet 30!

His studio is in a bright, light-filled shared space in North Fitzroy, tucked at the end of an alley you can't even see from the main street. The space seems to suit him well - it's an old warehouse, so he doesn't have to be too precious about spills when he's painting, and he's got enough space to jump around from computer-based work to drawing, screen printing and painting.

Spencer Harrison and his artwork-in-progress. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Spencer Harrison and his artwork-in-progress. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Artwork for Spencer's upcoming exhibition covers an entire wall of his studio. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Artwork for Spencer's upcoming exhibition covers an entire wall of his studio. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

How long have you been in the space and where did you work previous to this?

I've been at my current studio for about a year and a half now. Previously I've moved around various shared studio spaces around Melbourne, generally based on my needs at the time. Some were great for more graphic design work, others for meeting potential clients and in the case of this one, more suited for art and making a bit of a mess. 

Spencer's studio is at the end of a small number of shared spaces. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Spencer's studio is at the end of a small number of shared spaces. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

How many hours a week do you spend there? 

Ha ha a lot of time! I go there pretty much every working day and treat it just like going to work. The only difference is I hate 9am starts so generally get there around 10.00-10.30 and work until 6.00 or 7.00. When I'm working on an exhibition though I can end up practically living there and spending long days working on my artworks. I do like to change things up every now and again though and spend a day working from the library or from home. 

The studio entrance. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

The studio entrance. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

How, if at all, has the space influenced your work?

Like most of the shared spaces I've been in, the people in the spaces have had the biggest influence on me and my work. We often swap tips, have a chat and a cup of tea or even give each other little pep talks when we are in creative slumps. It's given me a lot more confidence professionally and creatively being around other professional creatives and has also lead to lots of opportunities here and there also. On a more practical level, just having the space to have a large amount of various materials and space to create in has given me a lot more flexibility to create and try different things.

Mixing and testing paint colours. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Mixing and testing paint colours. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Colour swatches. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Colour swatches. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

What would your dream workspace look like?

The space I have at the moment is pretty close to my dream workshops! I would love to have an even bigger studio with a dedicated screen printing area and washout area, a photography setup and maybe a big garden outside that I can hang in and draw. Oh and if were talking dream studio I'd also have a private in-house DJ that would spin my favourite tracks all day and also an in-house chef...maybe one day!

Initial sketches for each piece in Spencer's upcoming exhibition. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Initial sketches for each piece in Spencer's upcoming exhibition. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Sketches coming to life. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Sketches coming to life. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Which other creatives inspire you (personally or professionally)?

At the moment I'm very inspired by a lot of artists from the past and am spending a lot of time reading about them, how they worked, how they found their ideas and who their influences were. I'm interested in what motivated these artists and their creative processes more so than the finished outcomes. Some favourites at the moment include Keith Haring, Matisse, Picasso, Joan Miro, Jean Arp and many others. Another creative that has inspired me quite a bit recently has been David Hockney, mainly due to his constant curiosity and bravery to constantly be exploring and changing the style of his art. I've also been discovering a lot of amazing Australian artists recently, mainly through exhibitions at the NGV Ian Potter and Heidi Gallery. A couple of my recent favourites have been Robert Delaunay and Melinda Harper, both with such amazing work!

Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

A big thanks to Spencer for sharing his thoughts and his space. If you want to see his upcoming exhibition, you've got one chance, as it's only on for one day (which also happens to be his 30th birthday.)

Exhibition:

Synesthesia Friday March 4th, 6.00pm-9.00pm, Work-Shop, 195 Argyle St, Fitzroy.

Spencer Harrison - Links:

Web 

Shop

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

 

And don't forget to follow Studio Space on Instagram @studiospace_ #hellostudiospace

Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Spencer's painted some ply near the studio entrance, which is backing onto an apartment development. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

Spencer's painted some ply near the studio entrance, which is backing onto an apartment development. Photo by Susan Fitzgerald.

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