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By Sophie McComas, ContributorISSUE #038 FOR THE JOY OF READING & WRITING | Community

An Interview with Evi, of Evi.O Studio

Evi O, artist and Creative Director of legendary Marrickville-based design studio, Evi.O Studio answers our burning questions re: her work on the limited edition Archie Rose Writers Gin design. Plus, recommendations for some winning winter reads and one hell of a G&T recipe.

Evi-O. Studio is known for bringing incredible books and works of literature to life, what drives you to align your work so closely with the written word?

Well, boredom is a creative’s best friend and in a selfish manner working on books fulfils that personal problem. Every story is unique, hence providing a fresh creative challenge every time and whilst we are confined within the book form, as we all know, every book carries its own unique world within, and that’s why we love visualising them. Don’t let us get started on our obsessions with the many crafts involved in bookmaking: typography, image making, and printing techniques, each is a unique craft to learn. But in a more expansive sense, we are also genuinely driven by the power of literacy and feel honoured to be able to support the powerful written words of our authors’.

You’ve brought to life iconic Australian writer Helen Garner’s quote, "Every page of writing is the result of a thousand tiny decisions and desperate acts of will” for The Writer’s Gin label. How did this quote inspire your final design?

When I pondered upon the quote, I felt a strike of deep passion in the constant exploration of expressing one’s self. In Garner’s case, perhaps she was referring literally to her literary practice. But I get an abstract vibe that it may be just about creative life – or life – in general. In the pursuit of a (great) creation, progression is never not complex, even if the result is seemingly not. I drew upon that conceptual energy and imagined a field of colourful abstract shapes – in my head flowers – where there is constant growth and movement. It is joyous because obsessing over a craft is perhaps one of the most fulfilling experiences one can have as part of their one precious life.

In a wider sense, this quote also applies to the way we approach crafting new spirits and cocktails. Would you say the same applies to your work?

100%. In work, and in life. If we put the quote in the context of creating, I think it talks about care and obsession. To explore and experiment and later to understand and create from the process. Is Garner trying to reinvigorate our core calling of being a human? To create, or if that word is too big, to be productive?

Where do you start with each new design?

Our process is both intuitive and logical. As a design studio, we live by the “Midwife” philosophy. It’s never our baby, but it’s our job to deliver a suitable one. We always try to understand the context of what we design. What it needs to do, who it needs to speak to, how we want it to connect to the world – we workshop the functionality points. Then comes the intuition of exploring visual scenarios – we exhaust ourselves when exploring the visual possibilities, usually there is a direction or two out of it. Then we keep developing and refining until we reach the final output. But yes, we start with the parents’ vision and the baby will hopefully feel like a genuine creation! That is also perhaps why we don't necessarily have a design style, although we dwell well in crafting positivity and joy.

What is the book you always come back to/recommend to friends?

When it comes to design and art, I found these writings influential to me: Ways of Seeing – John Berger, Design as Art – Bruno Munari, The Art of Looking Sideways – Alan Fletcher. The list will be very long if I roam to other genres, so I shall stop here.

What book are you reading right now?

Can’t we just print more money? by The Bank of England, The Power of Geography by Tim Marshall, Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, The Tools by Phil Stutz and Great Thinkers by School of Life. You’re probably seeing a pattern here, but yes, I’m keen to understand the mechanics of our current society better – I feel the change has never been this rapid – and how we’ve evolved from the past, and how we could manoeuvre the future in a positive way. I also just had my birthday and it fittingly has made me feel contemplative – or rather, existential.

How do you take your gin?

Neat and mean, 2 parts gin, 1 part fresh lime juice, 1 part tonic water, all on rock-hard ice. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll add cucumber slices :-)

The Writers Gin was conceived together with Evi.O Studio, Michael Williams, the editor of The Monthly magazine and Australian independent bookstore, Booktopia. Get your hands on a piece of Evi’s incredible design work (and, the crisp gin it packages) now for a limited time only.

Portrait of Evi O by Andrew Grune All other images of Evi O sourced via the artist's Instagram @evi_o