Since moving to Melbourne from New York City, director of creative production at Jacky Winter Group Jeremy Wortsman has become one of the most respected and influential people in the Australian art scene. We got the chance to chat with him about his work and his creative process.
WHAT'S IN YOUR BAG?
- 15” MacBook Pro Assorted chargers, dongles and cables.
- A portable USB battery/charger and external HD
- Some spare Jacky Winter Challenge Coins
- A hard case A4 binder for paperwork in transit between the office and home
- Yellow Metro Blunt Umbrella
- A whole lot of plastic wrap from Eclipse mint packs (I go through 1-2 tins a day)
- A tiny pharmacy of random pharmaceuticals
YOU'RE ORIGINALLY FROM NYC AND NOW YOU'RE A FULL BLOWN MELBOURNIAN. WHAT WAS THAT TRANSITION, BOTH CULTURALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY, LIKE?
It’s so long ago now it’s really hard to remember! Culturally I remember how Australia and the US were dramatically different places at the time, but in some ways, it’s been like boiling a lobster here. Slowly getting hotter each day (or more Americanised!) I know that sounds dramatic, and I dearly love and miss America profoundly, but I think I harbour quite a bit of nostalgia for Melbourne in 2001 when I originally arrived, especially from an architecture and design perspective.
That said, I think I’ve always had a toe in both places in many senses, and I was definitely able to capitalise that from a business perspective in terms of seeing certain opportunities that were more evident from growing up in the States.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT NYC, BUT LOVE MOST ABOUT MELBOURNE?
I don’t care what anyone says or believes, you cannot find a decent kosher dill pickle in Australia. Bar none. I’ve tried them all, don’t @ me, doesn’t exist. From the Australian-side, you really can’t go wrong with Medicare. More specifically, I can’t really put a finger on what I love exactly about Melbourne. Before I came here I listened to a lot of The Lucksmiths - that painted a really amazingly vivid portrait of the place, and I sort of just fell in love with it that way, so again there’s a deep sense of nostalgia and romance that’s hard to untangle from the city itself.
WHAT DID YOUR TIME WORKING AT 'IS NOT' MAGAZINE AND CHASE AND GALLEY TEACH YOU ABOUT CREATIVITY
Is Not was a really once-in-a-lifetime project and set up some of my most cherished professional and personal relationships here in Melbourne. Overall it taught me that money should never be a barrier to realising a creative vision. If an idea is good enough, and you have the time and will, that's all you need.
Chase & Galley came directly from Is Not along with my fellow co-founder and designer Stuart Geddes, and through that experience, I really learned how vital open and honest communication is in a partnership, creative or personal. Stuart and myself were united by many shared interests but had vastly different approaches to things technically and conceptually. This made for a very fruitful collaboration and friendship that remains strong to this day.Tell us a little bit about the idea behind Jacky Winter and where the company stands today.
“ ...IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT ME, BUT A REAL CULMINATION OF AMAZING PEOPLE COMING TOGETHER. ”
Jacky Winter was truly a product of the foundation laid by Is Not and then Chase & Galley. In addition to the usual graphic design stuff, Stuart and myself had a strong interest in comics and illustration, and we met and nurtured a small community of illustrators through Is Not, who as I got to know better, realised that there wasn’t a healthy industry here that was supporting them, so I basically decided to foster one from there.
Ten years later we represent over 120 artists across a variety of different branches and services. There are twelve staff members working out of our offices in Melbourne and New York, and we’re working on briefs for local and global brands ranging from everything from traditional advertising campaigns to fully integrated digital and animated projects and on more bleeding edge tech like AR and VR.
We also have our gallery space Lamington Drive, and our luxury accommodation and artist residency program at Jacky Winter Gardens in the Dandenong Ranges. It’s been a pretty wild ride but hopefully just the beginning, especially with our expansion into North America.
WHAT'S THE BEST PART ABOUT RUNNING A CREATIVE GROUP LIKE JACKY WINTER?
I’ve never been an inherently creative person myself, so to be behind the scenes in more of a support role is something I find very fulfilling both professionally and personally. I think of myself as a director in a real traditional sense in that I have a certain vision and aesthetic that I am exploring through the people I have been able to bring into the fold to help realise that vision, and in that way it’s not about me at all, but a real culmination of amazing people coming together.
WHERE DO YOU GO FOR CREATIVE INSPIRATION?
Currently, I’m actually looking to get a bit more ‘uninspired’. There’s a bit of inspiration surplus going around at the moment which can feel a bit exhausting, so at the moment I’m really focussing on the craft of honing and perfecting the work we do as agents and producers and have found that to be a really rewarding process.
I still have a very finely curated RSS feed. I call it my very own Bonsai tree of delicately pruned interests and websites that I pore over each day and that’s a big part of my practice, but overall I’m trying to find a bit more quiet in general, while at the same time keeping my interests as broad as possible with the limited time that I have.