APATA – The Australian Performing Arts Teachers Association

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Industry Five with Gavin Hampstead, Creative Director, Iceworks Design

Posted by APATA | Jul 14, 2019

We sat down this week with industry leader and design guru Gavin Hampstead, Creative Director, Iceworks Design to tap into some industry insights.

APATA: You started your career in the Art Department of Channel Seven. What were the foundations laid in that time that you still draw upon today?

GH: To this day I’ve retained our motto from the BTQ 7 Art Department “We deliver”; or “Art department delivers” as it was back then. There’s no luxury of moving a deadline in our industry, the show must go on. Time management is one key thing I learned there. I’m also ever grateful for having had the opportunity to work within a TV station when production was made entirely in-house. This allowed me to be exposed to all areas of production, which has only helped me become a better designer.

APATA: Collaboration is a big part of what you do. When you work with the likes of Industry leaders, Logies Set Designer Mark Dyson and renowned Theatre Production Designer Tracy Grant Lord for Queensland Ballet’s Dangerous Liaisons, what is the process you go through?

GH: Working with other designers we build sets for at Iceworks is always a great experience. Every new show/set design is a brand-new journey every time. Working with Mark and Tracy, (among others) my role is essentially the Project Manager & Construction Designer for their sets. The process typically begins with reviewing their designs, then meeting to discuss the finer details around how we think it should be built to achieve the outcomes we’re all looking for. Collectively we come together bringing our experience and expertise to the table, to create and make something we’ve never made before. That’s the beauty of our job! From there, I undertake extensive 3d modelling and 2d drafting of construction drawings in consultation with our workshop team, communicating closely with the designers along the way as the finer detail comes to light, ensuring the design is delivered and the set arrives in studio; on stage; or wherever the show is, on time and to the designers original intent.

APATA: This year Iceworks Design opened a design program for students – ‘The Emerging Designers Program’ mentoring three design graduates through the design, build and delivery phases of a commercial design project. These participants seem to have really enjoyed discovering the importance of the relationship between designer and builder. What did you discover about yourself and your team as mentors throughout this program? 

GH: This is indeed an interesting program for us. I think we found we have amassed more knowledge about what we do than any of us ever completely realized once we were faced with imparting this knowledge to others!

APATA: In taking on the mentoring role did you have moments where you recalled your own mentors and teachers? If so, who were/are the people who really made a mark on your journey? 

GH: I’d say yes I did, though I’ve often reflected on this before. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my older brother opening a door for me into the world of production when I was 19 years old. I’m also ever grateful to my mentor Alan Olive for seeing potential in me and teaching me the craft from his extensive years in television set design. 

APATA: You have 30 seconds to impart your career wisdom – what are your top 3 pieces of advice to any budding set designers or students and teachers in general?

GH: Oh ok, here goes..

  • Learn as much as you can about the entire field of production. All of this will help you be better at playing your part in it.
  • Learn fast how to be a team player. It may be your design, but collaboration can make good things become great things.
  • Enjoy the work. If you don’t then it’s not for you and that will show in this industry.



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