02.06.15 / Designer Profile / Daniel McKeating

Dan Rebecca

Early in his childhood, thankfully, Daniel’s parents and his art teacher noticed his passion for graffiti, comics, and illustration.

“In high school, I was the kid that sat at the back of the class, drawing cartoons, graffiti, tattoos and that sort of thing,” says Daniel.

“My art teacher at school recommended I go and speak to the lecturers at TAFE. My dad took me there when I was about 16, and they recommended graphic design as the ideal career path for me.”  

Daniel started at TAFE (now the Central Institute of Technology) in 1999, and worked his way through to a degree in graphic design at Curtin University of Technology. He then began working for Chameleon Creative in Perth in 2004.

“I worked for Chameleon Creative for about two years full-time and then travelled for six months around Europe and the United States,” says Daniel.  

“When my wife Rebecca and I returned to Perth, I took a full-time job at Turner Design, while studying part-time for a Master of Communication Design through the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).”

“Juggling full-time work with part-time postgraduate study wasn’t easy, but I’m really glad I did it. I took units in the areas of strategic planning, luxury brand management, marketing, and public relations. As designers we often have to liaise with marketing managers and chief executives. The Masters program at RMIT certainly helped me to speak the language of business more fluently.”

It was a former lecturer of his from Curtin, Toya Barlowe, who got Daniel interested in brand strategy.

“Toya taught at Curtin Uni for 20+ years. He’s a guru of design. He was a really good mentor to me in my final year at Curtin. Back in 2003 he recommended a few books to me in the area of brand strategy; one of which was The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier,” explains Daniel.

“I became obsessed with brand strategy. Some designers see this stuff as ‘the dark side’, but for me I think learning about strategy and marketing has actually helped me to become a better, more strategic designer than I otherwise would have been.”

Even as a student, Daniel was always proactive. He was an active member of the AGDA student committee in his final year at Curtin.

“AGDA has had a huge influence on my career – particularly when I was starting out. AGDA helped me to expand my network and get to know some fantastic people in the industry. I had some great mentors along the way, including Steve Castledine, Tracy Graffin, and Haydn Boschetti, to name but a few. In recent years I’ve been doing my best to follow the lead of my mentors and give back to students and young designers as much as I can,” says Daniel fondly.

“I worked for around five years for other people before we launched Lost & Found. The last full-time job I had was at Turner Design, which is one of the leading design studios in Perth.”

Daniel was only six months off finishing his Masters, so he made the tough decision to leave Turner Design to focus on completing his studies.

“In the end, through finishing the course, Rebecca and I thought, you know what? You only live once… let’s have a crack at starting our own studio,” says Daniel of his brave decision.

“We saw it as an opportunity to open not just another studio in Perth, we really wanted to specialise in the food and beverage sector. Rebecca actually worked for wineries before she joined me in the business, she was a financial controller for two Margaret River based wineries, and her sister is a winemaker, so it kind of runs in the family.”

“With packaging it allows me to use my illustration skills, my brand identity design skills, but there’s also a bit of an industrial design component to it; designing packaging structures and that sort of thing, I’ve always been fascinated by making things.”

For the first two and a half years it was just Daniel working by himself, but then Rebecca – a chartered accountant by trade – came on board to look after the business management and copywriting side of things.

“There are now three of us in the studio, plus two cats. Stasha has been working with us for about two-and-a-half years now. She’s a super talented young designer with a big career ahead of her. We’re really lucky to have Stasha as part of our team.”

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