Now Reading: The Life of an Artist: Part-time Photographer, full-time Graphic Design student

Josie Harvery

The Life of an Artist: Part-time Photographer, full-time Graphic Design student

Josie is a budding young graphic designer/photographer living in Sydney, Australia.

She’s currently studying the Diploma of Graphic Design at Billy Blue College of Design and works as a part-time photographer for her own company Josie Harvey Creatives. After becoming tired of side jobs in hospitality to support her photography career, she decided to pack up her life in the hills of Byron Bay and head to the big city.

As a photographer, why did you decide to study graphic design?

I was sick of working hospitality side jobs to stay a float and having to take on ‘cash shoots’ that just ended up hurting my soul. I knew I needed a solid bread and butter type of work that could support my photography business and was sustainable for my body/mind/spirit. My photography clients often ended up asking me to do design and I actually loved the little that I had dabbled in. It quickly became a simple and welcome answer to my dilemma. I also knew that if I wanted true freedom to move into the world of design, I needed to know the rules and also how to break them. So I came to Billy Blue to get the basics of design down and see where it took me.

Studying graphic design has woken up something inside of me I never expected, I get this crazy hunger to create and solve problems.

 Josie Harvey

How did you find out about Billy Blue? Why did you choose to study with us?

I had heard about the college in fleeting meetings, and then through research, I took quite an interest. I wanted a course that would give me the bare bones of design that I could go out into the industry to build on. I prefer building skills that way rather than faffing around in irrelevant coursework so Billy Blue’s diploma was the best match. Everything else I looked at either had a bunch of extra stuff that I didn’t want to do, or was too brief, or just another cookie-cutter course.

There was a lot of hesitation going into a formal college after a painful university experience of observing a huge disconnect between what was being taught and the working world. I’d also been living around Byron Bay for a few years prior where I’d left formal education and was more about life learning.

I chose Billy blue because when I walked in, their branding was on point. Someone sat down with me and got straight to the point, and it was the only course I found where I could get the ropes of design studying in person and in 1 year. Also, the small classes where taught by lectures who simultaneously work in the industry as well as teach. Not only do they know my name, they know my work and genuinely care about my success as a designer. It struck a good balance between real world and still giving really decent support.


What do you like best when studying graphic design? Which subject or aspect of this form of art excites and interest you the most?

It’s really changed my world to discover design thinking. I love coming at a problem from every angle, knowing I am going to create something that will:

  1. solve the problem
  2. make a positive impact on the earth
  3. and look freaking awesome

I also love how the ‘restrictions’ in a design brief actually open my eyes to whole other spaces to play in. I start seeing a whole world inside what I thought was a tiny container. Kind of like fractal geometry. Finding total freedom with that is so empowering. It’s like, give me anything and I got this! Actually, it reminds me a lot of the experience I had while I was a chef at a yoga centre in Byron Bay. The restrictions were seemingly ludicrous, but brought me to a place where I had to drop everything I thought a meal was and invent something tasty, healthy, and ready by dinnertime.

Faces - Josie Harvey

What inspires you? 

Everything. It often comes from everything around me depending on the state I’m in. The usual suspects though are the ocean, people revealing in their own energy, contrast, and activities that take me to a place of unlocking something I never thought possible like yoga or rock climbing.

What’s a project you’ve done recently that you are proud of?

I really enjoyed a magazine spread I did about Takenbou Igarashi. I combined one of my favourite philosophies Wabi Sabi and Igarashi as a favourite designer, and it inspired me to make the photographs for it. I’ve never done typography style shooting! There was something so satisfying about being able to create every aspect and have it feel so together.

Wabi Sabi - Billy Blue project Scared Geo project

You mention that you value sustainability and eliminating the desire for “artificial needs”? Why is this important to you? How do you try to incorporate this in your art?

By artificial needs, I just mean the idea of giving someone the illusion they need something that actually they don’t, like a store’s ‘essential’ clothing line. Every case is different! With it’s own set of individual needs. It’s not honest to slide along the idea someone needs something they simply don’t, and I don’t want anything to do with that. The whole process wastes not just resources on production, but people’s time and headspace. There’s always a balance where everyone feels good about the outcome.

Josie Harvey

I’m so happy we’re moving towards everyone being more empowered, honest about what they want and don’t want and getting on with it to have a good time! Visual art for me is like being a translator of the visual language, so there’s creating the aesthetics of that vibe, then making sure everything else it aligned like the sourcing of materials and playing rad music while I do it.

Share with us a quote that motivates you.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

– Anais Nin

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