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Sion Griff, Thirroul NSW

The world of graphic design has found a rule-breaking signwriter and generally talented man in Sion Griff. From the humble beginnings of a small fishing village in Wales, Sion combines tradition with modern design in the perfect pairing for Kraken Kreative. He credits his father for inspiration as well as the nature he enjoys everyday while living in a quirky converted mechanic’s workshop nestled in Thirroul. We ventured for a morning coffee with Sion, partner Lily, their son Cai and one very energetic dog.

Words by Rachel Abbott

Images by Billie Acosta

Do you confine yourself to any rules when designing?

I don’t follow any of the rules I was once taught at college and I’ve never worked for anyone else as a graphic designer. I’ve been working for myself from the beginning, not full-time don’t get me wrong; I have always juggled other jobs in construction, bars at the same time. In the corporate world there are rules with graphic design however that is a very small part of what graphic design really is. The most influential agencies in graphic design these days don’t follow any rules whatsoever.

How have you seen graphic design change over the years?

It’s definitely more artistic now, there was art and there was design before and now they’re the same thing. If you want to be a good graphic designer and that’s your career path you need to be an artist as well; it is vital to be broad. I think having those skills and that creativity makes you stand out.

Last year you curated ‘Useless Wooden Toys’, tell us more about the event, it’s impact and purpose.

“Useless Wooden Toys” is a initiative event which combines art and skateboarding to raise awareness and funds for environmental organisations to promote upcycling and recycling. It was run in conjunction with the Wollongong Fringe Festival, and I chose to help Plastic Free Wollongong through the event.

We worked with local Wollongong artists to revamp and redesign skateboard decks which were then auctioned off by local legendary skateboarders at Howling Wolf Bar. We sold all of the boards and were able to pay two of the artists to create t-shirt designs which were printed at Kraken Kreative.

This project combined things I love and enabled me to do my bit for the community with artists who are so passionate about what they do. Becoming a father made me more aware of the future. I certainly want my son to grow up in a society that cares about its environment so it was great to generate discussion about single use plastic and the individual impact we have- that’s why I support organisations like Plastic Free Wollongong. I’m just doing my bit for the community and look forward to doing more in the future.

 “I have drawn from a young age, however my father would definitely be where I found my inspiration. He’s incredibly creative; a builder that can design his own logo, help me out with art projects and build skate ramps with me and my brother. “

Tell us more about your house, a converted mechanic’s workshop?

Lily’s parents bought the house from a bit of a mad dude, as you can see. He was a mechanic and lived in Thirroul his entire life. He lived upstairs and the downstairs was his workshop, which is where we now live. He got kids off the street back in the day to literally help him build the house, carrying rocks up one by one, which is interesting; don’t think that would get you very far these days.

Renovating was a hell of a project. It took us every weekend for about five months, it has a lot of character which we love. The entire house is made from concrete and stone, the only wood is the floors, doors and bench tops which were recycled from an old shop fit out.

I built the deck which has made a huge difference. It was just a big drop down into the creek before, now it’s made a second living space. It’s my favourite thing about living here, the deck with the surrounding bush looking out at the escarpment; its quirky and I like that you can just do whatever you like. With new houses you’re very limited but with this place you can do anything to it really.

What inspires you now?

I’m definitely a big day dreamer; I can sit for hours and think. Time would go by without me realising just because I’m thinking about a project. I think things over for a long time before I even draw anything, that way I know what I want to do in my mind and then it’s just getting it done.

Inspiration wise it has made a difference living in Thirroul with the escarpment and the beach. I love drawing stuff to do with the outdoors so I definitely get inspired by small little towns like Thirroul and it’s nature. There’s always something to do and be inspired by. Theres mountain bike tracks in the escarpment, surf, decent skateparks, just no snow; that’s definitely something I want to do family wise – go to the snow.

Learn more about Sion here.