Jonathon Oxlade credits his lecturers at the Queensland College of Art for igniting his passion for illustration and sculpture.
Two decades on, the renowned theatre designer is having a career-defining year, winning a handful of the country’s most prestigious creative arts awards
In the past 12 months he has won a coveted Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship, an Australian Academy of Cinema and TV Arts (AACTA) award for costume design and two Australian Production Design Guild awards for production and costume design.
“I’m still taking the time to come to terms with it all,” he says with a laugh.
“It feels like it doesn’t rain but it pours.
“It’s really cool – I love making stuff and it is great that it has been received well.”
Illustration all about telling stories
After dabbling in illustration and spending many years working with the country’s top theatre companies, he has branched out into cinema – winning a raft of awards for his production design and costumes on the acclaimed Australian film Girl Asleep.
“Theatre, cinema, illustration – for me it’s all about telling stories, finding connections and solving puzzles,” he says.
“I like watching little worlds get built.
“My lecturer at the QCA, Chris McKimmie, always said that illustration is the product of word and image, which is really a great description of theatre as well.
“And in theatre, you are always referencing other things, from fine art to film.”
Jonathon attended the QCA at Morningside in the late 90s and found a mentor in the then head of illustration Chris McKimmie.
“I think the QCA taught me new ways of looking at things, and in illustration I really found my groove.
“Chris really pushed me to find different ways of working and was very inspiring.
“It was also a chance to meet like-minded artists and people who shared my passions.”
New theatre project
The creative powerhouse is currently developing a new theatre project in Perth with actor Zoe Pepper and puppeteer Tim Watts, and juggling a raft of commitments for 2017.
However, the Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship, a tax-free grant of $160,000 over two years, will give him some breathing space.
“I’m still getting my head around it to be honest,” he says.
“As a freelance artist, my whole livelihood relies on the next gig.
“This will definitely take the pressure off!”