SA Life

Get CityMag in your inbox. Subscribe
August 1, 2016

Creative career path: Spenceroni

Spencer Harrison's graphic design career has taken him around the world. This week it will deliver him back to his home town to collaborate with paper merchant K.W. Doggett.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  • Words: Lauren Bezzina
  • Image 2: Pink Flowers in a White Pot (Painting: Acrylic on Canvas 820mm X 564mm)
  • Image 4: Living Room Plants (Collage: Acrylic Paint on Cut Paper 405mm X 305mm)

Spencer is the guy whose work is still used as an example in graphic design lectures at university, long after he won all the student awards and graduated. The guy whose positive attitude is simultaneously enviable and inspiring. We challenge you to try and scroll through his Instagram feed without cracking a smile.


Keep up with Spencer and his many endeavours at

We want to refer to him as a ‘lucky guy’, but that’s not it. His success is the product of passion, hard work, experimentation and determination. Before studying visual communication, Spencer completed a degree in nanotechnology. Although that’s an entirely different field the qualities that make him a success as a designer were already evident as he studied there.

“The common thing about getting my degrees and now my creative practice, is that I put my head down and worked hard,” he says. “When I got to UniSA [to study visual communication] that was the point I realised creative pursuits were what I really loved. I was driven and I put my head down even more, and got stuck into starting my creative career.”

“I did a lot of thinking about whether I wanted to go into visual arts, illustration, or graphic design. I chose the practical path – graphic design – because I thought there would be more opportunity in that area. It’s interesting that I’m now doing more illustration and artwork.”

His decision has taken him around the world.

The travelling started with one of his student awards that included a trip to communications research centre Fabrica in Italy. More recently, Spencer held a workshop as part of the ING Creatives conference in Dubai, alongside creative industry elite Francesco Franchi (Italy) and Timothy Goodman (USA).

When he’s not globe-trotting, Spencer now calls Melbourne home and while Adelaide plays less of a part in his creative practice, he is always keen to visit his home town.

“This project with K.W. Doggett is exciting because I’m looking forward to going back to my old uni, and seeing my old lecturers again,” says Spencer. “It will be fun to go back!

“They [K.W. Doggett] approached me this year because I’ve been doing a lot of workshops and my own artwork with cut paper. And they really love that stuff, as well as the work by Matisse – the cut paper works that he did that I’ve been inspired by. They do paper, I like using cut paper, so we are combining the two to create their 2017 calendar”

Side projects have always been an important motivator in Spencer’s practice, his self-directed experiments see him create illustrations daily (MNML Thing) or weekly (Rhythm and Repeat). When prompted, Spencer agrees these structured projects are a throwback to his nanotech days.

“It’s the same as when you are doing a lab experiment, you set out a hypothesis, and you create  some parameters, then you test it out. You often do things in repetition in science, you repeat the same thing and see if you get something different,” he says.

“Another really great thing about science is that often the failures are just as important as an expected result. You learn something from your experiment not working. That’s something I like to remember about my creative work as well, that failures are ok. Sometimes it’s going to look crap and that’s fine, you’re still going to learn something from it.”

“The thing I try to get across to people in terms of career is that it doesn’t need to be solely one thing. It’s fine to explore a lot of different areas. That’s going to make your career exciting for you in the long run and keep you engaged.”

We’re certainly inclined to take advice from someone who goes from one success to another, and seems to have such a good time while doing so.

Share —