The project was established as a strategic partnership between RMIT Researchers, The Jacky Winter Group, and directly alongside First Nations creative practitioners across Australia. This partnership facilitated diverse conversations and ways of working, bridging the gap between industry practices and First Nations knowledges, obligations, and aspirations.
Our approach was guided by a ‘two-way’ exchange of Indigenous and non-Indigenous creative, professional, and commercial practice, reflecting industry and client best practice, and cultural requirements and priorities for First Nations people. The design process brought 10 First Nation professional creatives from across Australia together to speak about their prior experiences in the design and commercial art industries, and to reimagine what a culturally safe and supporting Illustration agency might look like. Drawing from multiple participatory and relational modalities such as deep listening, yarning, and story sharing enabled participants to share their experiences, aspirations, ideas, and values through a series of workshops.
There were three stages of collaboration, which loosely followed cycles of ‘planning’ ‘action’ and ‘reflection’:
Planning: This first workshop developed core values, questions, and considerations that shaped how this project proceeded, while providing a space for artists to imagine what an Indigenous led illustration agency could be, and what value this might have.
Action: The second workshop created an ethical and sustainable paradigm for actioning the development of an Indigenous-led illustration agency. Having a united vision of sustainable success over time enabled the workshop to productively develop priorities, values, and frameworks in response to culturally safe ways of working, self-determination, and market opportunities.
Reflection: Collaboratively reflecting on the workshops helped establish key concepts, values, and strategic outcomes for the development of a First Nations illustration agency – far exceeding the brief and ensuring First Nations voices informed the agency from the ground up.