Australian Fine Artist

Eddie Zammit

Visiting Artist Business Person Wednesday 12th September

Editor and Owner of T-World magazine

Eddie started off life at TAFE in Frankston and mentioned more than a few times that he still has his heart in the area even though his business is based in Melbourne. A chat and presentation of going on to an hour and a half went very quickly with this very confident and chatty presenter. His video presentation was informative and funny at times which kept the usual snorers in the room awake and challenged for a change.

Eddie was quick with a one liner and also came out with some gems to keep in mind for running a business. How he got started was also interesting as he simply followed his obsession (or passion). After leaving TAFE he applied to nearly every university he could and instead of walking in with a folio of artwork as many of us do, he wore in a huge layering of 15 T-shirts and when the awkward moment came to come up with the goods, he simply started stripping of T-shirts showing all his designs. It must have impressed because he was offered positions in every uni he applied to. (wouldn’t we all like that!)

After accepting a position at Swinburne the T-shirt obsession was accompanied by training in graphic design. Eddie believes that for an artist this type of training rounds off your understanding and is a central and key part of your business (Good news for me! I have over thirty years industry experience). Swinburne supplies on the job training for students which can lead to full time offers, which is another reason this uni was selected above others.

The education and on the job learning led to Eddie being in partnership in a company at the tender age of twenty three after clients pretty well refused to deal with anyone else. I have had this experience in the past but it only got me demoted and shoved somewhere the clients couldn’t find me or out of a job, so maybe I was in the wrong companies, actually on reflection, I WAS in the wrong companies.

Anyway, getting on with the graphics thing, Eddie talked briefly about good typography, proof reading and understanding page layout and design. Having done all of the above and seeing good typography and proofreading disappear from the workplace in recent years I can only agree that this is a very important part of design which has been lumped into the tasks of designers and graphic artists along with a huge amount of other tasks. I also find that many designers don’t produce good typography in recent years either in the race to get jobs out the door or from poor teaching in their courses. I have been asked “what’s a widow or orphan?” and  “what’s a contraction versus condensing in text?” and don’t get me started on total lack of understanding of proofreader’s marks or kerning and tracking or how to indent text properly!

Where was I? Oh yes, Eddie talked about the need to follow your passion, find your thing and pursue it vigorously. Show initiative, it takes you further in life. Also remember, you are only as good as your last project. (people have short memories and short attention spans) then he came up with our favourite phrase in our business!

“Good, Cheap, Fast – Pick Any Two”
We have this on the wall of our office! It ensures that we and the clients know exactly how much ownership to take in any project or part thereof!!

Eddie then went on to talk about artists and young business people he has met and some of which he works with on projects. All found a niche in the market that they were passionate about and went for it. Eddie and probably these others he has met, works long hours, he says that dedication and application via hard work and being willing create your own product and put it out into the market place with vigour and a certain amount of confidence is a key to success.

Eddie holds T-shirt parties, he holds events in collaboration with artists and event holders as well as exhibitions. He doesn’t design so much these days as coordinate and manage the events, marketing, editorial and production of his business, bringing in designs from artists he finds whose work he thinks will fit in with his branding.

Even though a very lively and funny guy, Eddie was a very astute business person, expecting no less than the best quality in all his products. He will watch every part of the production process if necessary to make sure it is exactly what he wants. Having pulled a run of a magazine and making the printer reprint the entire thing years ago, I can understand where he is coming from, but then I was mates with the managing director of the printing company and name dropped! It was reprinted very quickly. But even so, why put up with inferior workmanship? Always do your best is how I was brought up and it seems Eddie has the same philosophy. He is a proud Australian, and so am I so even with age and gender differences, there were quite a few commonalities.

I liked the idea of a hard cover magazine which Eddie is producing from his business. At only $20 it is very reasonable considering the price of others in news agents I have seen lately. A good printed product like his is worth keeping in your studio for a reference guide for best practice in production and I try to have samples like his in mine.

Overall a very interesting presentation from a lively and funny presenter. Just a pity that I tried to ask a question of him and felt overlooked as he responded to nearly everyone around me. Well I tried, but in the end gave up as younger and more enthusiastic students got involved in the session. Really, I don’t know that it was going to be understood by many there as it was industry related regarding workloads and trends of required knowledge for designers, in the print industry in particular, in relation to his business and hiring practices. I was interested in this in regard to his high standards and expectations for quality in his finished and printed work. (IE: its great to have high standards but how do you pass that on to the workers in all levels of your business and to your suppliers and their workers, you do have to delegate and pass on responsibility to others or you end up doing everything yourself).

Thanks Chisholm for another afternoon session from an interesting speaker.

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