Words by Laura Perm-Jardin
It’s hard – even impossible to count all of the merits of Jonathan Zawada on one hand. Artist, graphic designers, creative direction, music video director, animator, fabric print design and art direction from anything from photo shoots to magazine spreads – the horizon seems limitless. What is so peculiar of Zawada’s practice though, is with the volume of work he has created and clients he has undertaken, that not one of this works resembles another. As one of the most celebrated designers working in Australia, Zawada has a client base consisting of Modular Records, Coca Cola in the US and China, The Presets, Ksubi, BMW, V and General Pants. He’s done everything from his humble beginnings as a web designer to everything to designing the print of fabrics for fashion designers Ksubi and Tina Kalvais.
It’s difficult to pin point a brand of specific recognizable ‘style’ for Zawada since one of his works is indistinguishable from any other. The Sydney based creative strongly believes that his work should become completely external to himself and instead reflect the goals and the ideals of his clients, rather than his own. This helps him separate his personal desires – and personal life which is a seemingly hard task to do when you literally take your work home with you everyday. Freelancing from his own home nestled in the heart of Sydney, Johnathan rarely gets time to relax but much of his work is illustrative based, a pursuit that he has enjoyed since finding illustrative talent as a young child.
It’s hard to believe in a such a qualification driven world that Zawada left his Bachelor of Design after a mere six months to become a web designer and back end coder. He believes that professional learning environments are not suited to all people, and that for him at least, learning is best done on the job since the challenges and pressures are real and put into context, instead of being abstract. His ideas come to him spontaneously and organically flowing from subconscious instead of being analytically criticized and beaten into an over-thought mess.
Although Zawada wouldn’t have a typically tedious career as a designer, swaying the mix of creative and commercial in his life has been a constant challenge. To add more balance to the creative side of his life, Johnathan along with his fellow designer pal Shane Sekkeus and wife Annie Wright formed a side project called Tru$t Fun! which came evolved from having more adventures ideas that clients were not willing to adopt and explore. The constraints of the projects are virtually limitless as there is no usual constraint of commercial clientele. From silk scarfs, to mineral jewels they even birthed a comic book dubbed ‘Metit Mal,’ a spin on fashion journalism comprised of backstage photography from Paris, Milan and New York Fashion weeks.
It seems so difficult for such an accomplished designer and successful creative to constantly draw up new goals to strive for and new directions to steer his work in, but with each project Zawada undertakes the transition seems effortless. His dream project however, inspired by the universe that has manifested around her, would be an album cover design for eccentric performer Bjork.