The Brand Identity

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After striking a seamless collaborative relationship across multiple projects since 2018, Melbourne-based designers Tristan Ceddia (Never Now) and Rick Milovanovic marked the beginning of 2021 by officially combining their practices into one. We caught up with them to find out more about why it was the right time to form the playfully-named TRiC, as well as what the future might hold.

The Brand Identity: How long have you guys been working together?

TRiC: Formally since the beginning of 2021, but informally since 2018 when we first collaborated on the CHANGES Festival project. We both really enjoyed the collaborative process, and the outcome was positively received, so this experience naturally led to wanting to work on more together.

TBI: Why did you decide the time was right to officially unite?

T: We’ve been good friends for well over a decade now, working parallel to each other in the same city, on projects and overlapping areas of cultures and design. Throughout those years we always supported each other’s practices, and light-heartedly entertained the idea of one day collaborating if the right opportunity arises, or at least self-initiating some sort of project as an excuse to explore ideas and work together.

It wasn’t until we began sharing an office space in 2017 that slowly a more substantial dialogue began to form. It became increasingly apparent that our practices shared a lot more in common than we initially realised, both at similar points in our careers with similar ideas creatively and professionally. We began noticing that one of our weakness was actually a strength for the other (e.g. documentation), and these could be interchangeable.

It was an exciting time for both of us, wider conversations opened up new ideas and perspectives, which ultimately led to teaching design together and starting TRiC in 2021.

“One of our weakness was actually a strength for the other.”

TBI: What does the new studio mean for your individual practices?

Tristan Ceddia: I’ve always thought of Never Now as a natural extension of who I am – it’s a name I have worked under for my whole career as a graphic designer, and it is a big part of me. This space will remain open as an avenue for expression, with the client work running through TRiC.

Rick Milovanovic: A chance to create a space that allows us to generate our own conditions. In a way your generating your own freedom to push ideas as far as you can. I was never able to do this whilst working for other studios or for myself.

TBI: Did the name come naturally or was it the result of a process?

T: The name came a long time ago – originally we had TRICK, then dropped the K. This represents the first few letters from each of our names, and Tristan (&) Rick in Company, and feels somewhat relevant to the world we are in. Perhaps similarly to Never Now, the name, as an essence, somewhat contrasts, and owns what we do.

“I have an old uncle who still cannot fathom that I’ve never had my own business card.”

TBI: Is naming and branding your studio easier or harder than client work?

TC: The name draws directly from our own first names, and came about as an idea long before we started working together. Rick has been missing the ‘k’ on his keyboard for years, so it felt really natural to drop this off the name. The brand was designed intentionally by default, so not to overshadow the work we do for clients. It builds a neutral structure around the work we are presenting which is important. We have some nice ideas for expansion amongst this which we are in the process of exploring.

RM: TRiC was surprisingly easy as TC mentioned. But over the years I’ve always struggled with promoting myself, I could never settle on a name or a website. I have an old uncle who still cannot fathom that I’ve never had my own business card – “what kinda graphic designer doesn’t have a business card!”

TBI: Does the new name signal any kind of change in the way you’ll work?

T: Yes and no. We have a studio manager (hi Amy) so processes have changed, however, we are working the same way we always have – intuitively.

“Talking to clients, new and old is a huge part of the process.”

TBI: What are the not so pretty and maybe forgotten things you have to think about and do when setting up a studio?

T: Contracts, insurances, lawyers, accounting… pretty normal stuff really. Not all that fun, but not all that bad. Setting up a new studio is enjoyable, it’s about the energy and at the end of the day, and as long as this is in place, everything else flows naturally.

TBI: And how do you manage your time to make sure you get all the non-design jobs done while still finding time to design?

T: That’s always the hardest part, but it comes hand in hand. Talking to clients, new and old is a huge part of the process – probably more than 50% of the week, which makes sitting down to actually design feel really good. We have a good balance between when we design and manage projects, we’re pretty effective with our time and our thinking.

“It’s these kinds of relationships that we dream of building.”

TBI: Do you have a project that you feel defines the direction of the new studio?

T: Yes. At the end of 2019, we were approached to rebrand Human Rights Law Centre, a not-for-profit organisation that has fearlessly and independently protected and promoted human rights across Australia.

The client responded to our work in arts and culture, rather than dwelling on our lack of experience in the law/corporate sector – this was a significant first step in the process for both us and them. The very idea that a large organisation is willing to approach a branding process with such foresight and openness, and willingness to challenge the status quo of their industry inspired us. It’s these kinds of relationships that we dream of building because we strongly believe they cultivate new possibilities for design to exist in all areas of culture and society.

TBI: What would you like TRiC to look like in five years time?

T: A consistent roster of conscious clients and collaborators would be a dream. Perhaps working with one or two talented employees. Staying trim and flexible is really important to us. We love what we do, and as long as we can maintain this, we will be more than happy.

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