Creativity runs in the blood in the Mancini family. Parents Terttu, a textile designer, and Rob, an artist, illustrator and graphic designer, instilled a love of art and creativity in their children who have forged their own successful creative careers, Hanna as an illustrator with her business Hannakin and Luke as a senior artist with US games giant Blizzard.
In addition to their own personal work, the Mancini’s have opened misc., a shop in Newport that showcases the family’s artwork along with craft, ceramics, glass and jewellery from other Australian designers and makers.
How and why is creativity important to your family?
T: Creativity is a totally natural part of our lives, we are all always working on something (or a variety of things) and I don’t think any of us could imagine not spending some time each day creating.
H: Growing up in my family I was always surrounded by creativity, so it always seemed to me to be just a thing that you do. I can't imagine not expressing myself through my creativity, because I always have, and have grown up watching the people around me doing the same.
Who does what?
T: I work on a variety of projects, mainly textile, depending on the materials I can source. I often use vintage fabrics or other found materials, so it varies from sewing, dyeing fabrics or creating other one-off pieces by knitting or stitching.
R: I drew and created from an early age, and as a child was never happier than with a pencil in hand. Professionally, I worked as an artist/illustrator and graphic designer, for the general design and publishing industries, nationally and internationally.
My recent personal work draws from diverse influences, presenting snapshots of landscape, natural and manmade, wildlife, machines, media, popular culture of the past and present and urban iconography. I have a deep affinity and nostalgic fondness for the west’s industrial and maritime past and a concern for the conservation of the remnant wild habitats, particularly wetlands, in the west.
H: I work full time running my creative label, Hannakin.
I'm predominantly an illustrator, producing art prints and cards from my whimsical drawings and paintings, but I’m also a textile artist and make hand sewn characters, dolls, pins and felt accessories, which I also sell through the label.
L: Most of my art these days is digital, working in Photoshop with a tablet or cintiq - it's quick and flexible, and gives me a lot of freedom to experiment as well as efficiency when working in my day-job.
I also keep up with my traditional work as well though, mostly through sketching (which is generally the best way of getting my ideas down right off the bat even when my final product is digital), but occasionally I still find time to bust out the paints as well.
How do you collaborate as a family?
R: Terttu and I work together designing and producing homewares, lamps and textiles and Luke and Hanna collaborate regularly on whimsical art pieces, combining traditional and digital processes.
L: I do a bit of everything in my own work, but whenever I collaborate with Hanna, I'm mainly in charge of painting up her lovely linework - I'd love to work with her more, but we mostly work together when we've got a special occasion like a birthday or holiday to celebrate.
H: Luke and I collaborate on illustration pieces and Terttu and I collaborate on smaller personal sewing and textile projects.
Being part of misc. is collaborative in general, because we often discuss new ideas as a family.
T: There are never enough hours in the day, we have a never ending list of new projects we’d like to try, and the business side of things has to still be taken care of, so it is a weekly, and daily, juggle to find time to do it all, but it is so very rewarding when it does all come together.
Did you have a defining moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist?
R: I aways wanted to create art, even from an early age when I had no idea what options were possibly available to me.
T: I was always drawing, sewing or making things, more or less teaching myself to knit, and sewing from a young age, and now I can legitimately spend more time working on whatever I can think of with misc. as the excuse.
L: I don't remember a specific moment - to be honest it's more like I never thought I'd be anything aside from an artist!
Though I don't think it was until late high school that I really thought about how exactly I'd take that nebulous 'going to be an artist' into possibilities for an actual career.
H: I just always knew I wanted to do something creative. I was exposed to a creative lifestyle from a young age, and couldn't imagine not doing something that involved creativity in some capacity.
I never really had a clear idea of exactly what I wanted to do, and I kind of stumbled upon running my own small creative business accidentally.
What are the joys and challenges of living a creative life?
R: Creative careers are about balance. Working in commercial/design has creative limitations and compromises are a given. Personal art practice is creatively more satisfying, but has obvious challenges if you are attempting to derive an income. We all aim to find a balance in there somewhere.
One of my biggest joys and feelings of success is seeing the flourishing range of artistic pursuits and achievements of my family, particularly the children who are making their mark in very different spheres but both loving what they do so well.
T: In the past I’ve had jobs in non-creative fields, so starting misc. has meant I get to spend more time working on things I enjoy. But it does have to be balanced with trying to make a living, there is still the non-creative business side of things which need to be taken care of.
L: Having a day job being creative is definitely a joy and takes a lot of the stress out when compared to freelancing or directing my own projects - but I still have the drive to work on my own art and finding the time to work on that as well can really be a challenge.
H: Living a creative life is not the challenge, but making a living from your creativity certainly is! Of course it's fun to be creative and experimental, and make full time, but as a creative business owner you have to wear many hats and do lots of different things, not just making.
It also puts a lot more pressure on your creative output. If you're doing it solely for yourself you can do whatever you like and enjoy it. But needing to pay your bills means making things you think people will actually want to pay money for, and that's an added element of stress! Despite the stress it's still a pleasure to work mostly from home, what I do is still fun (enjoying a million cups of tea and listening to podcasts while I work).
What advice would you give to aspiring creatives/artists?
R: Even if your main activity isn’t closely tied to your creative passion make at least some time to create what you love, to suppress this is deleterious.
Using themes and subjects of interest and passion is obviously going to manifest as better art with connection and integrity. People young and old often ask how to get better at art, the obvious answer is do it, do it lots.
T: Find a way to spend a little of each day enjoying some creativity and developing your skills.
L: The biggest piece of advice I usually give (though it can feel a little trite) is just to always DO MORE ART!
Practice practice practice, and make creating art a part of your daily life!
H: Practice. Always. Every day.