Cristian Campano, Graphic Designer + Musician

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Six months ago, a new creative talent arrived in the Port Macquarie area … graphic designer and musician Cristian is thrilled to call Port Macquarie home – and we’re lucky to have him! Cristian’s managed to meld his love for both music and design into a fabulous yet continually evolving career … here, he shares what he’s been up to …

Hi Cristian. What brought you to Port Macquarie?

Hi Jo! I’ve lived here for six months now, but my wife, Michelle, grew up in Port Mac then moved to Sydney, where I met her 15 years ago. We worked hard for many years, but then finally got over the stress of the city and lack of spare time to work on our creative projects and moved to Port to live a slower and more creative life. 

I think I almost feel like a “local” here, as I complain about the “traffic” ha ha. The people here are super friendly, and it’s such a beautiful part of the world – I feel totally humbled to be living here and enjoying the amazing beaches every day.

What interest came first for you – music or graphic design? 

Music has always been in my blood. As a youngster, I learnt to play guitar with my dad, who supported our family as a professional Spanish guitarist. In school I got into visual arts, painting and drawing, then I realised I may not be able to make money off my art, so I applied for a graphic design course at Hornsby TAFE and continued from there into the magazine world. 

Over the next ten years I worked for Tracks Mag, Grazia, OK! Mag, Australian Skateboarding Magazine, FHM and various other smaller publications, building up my name in the publishing industry. 

You’ve been able to meld your love for both music and design into a fabulous career, which would be the envy of many! Tell us a bit about the various businesses, such as Chugg Entertainment and Laneway Festival, you’ve worked for over the years, and what your roles with these organisations involved …

After playing and loving music for many years, I really wanted to find music-based-design work, so I reached out through the industry contacts I’d made and picked up a number of clients and bands. I was basically employed on a contract by contract basis by Laneway in Sydney to produce a number of pieces of design for their Laneway Festival – everything from artist booklets to playing times, brochures for punters to 50 metres worth of fence art design for their festival. 

Then for Chugg Entertainment, I’d work for some of their touring artists, such as Sheppard and Art Vs Science, and also for their country music department, CMC, designing site maps, tour booklets and promo for their CMC Rocks Festival in QLD. 

But overall, throughout the last 20 years I also got the chance to design for a variety of other clients. I worked on packaging design for liquor companies, social media design for Junkee media, menus for restaurants, gig posters for venues and pubs, what’s on guides for print publications, wedding invitations and everything in between. I feel like there’s nothing I haven’t worked on ha ha.

You were also the Art Director for Rolling Stone Australia. You must have met some amazing entertainers and designed some fabulous content throughout this period. Who/what are some of the people and projects that most stick in your mind?

Oh yeah, that job was the best job I’ve ever had. Working on feature articles for U2, Gang Of Youths, Pink, ACDC, Queens Of The Stone Age with exclusively shot photos was a dream come true. We also had a number of artists who came to our office to be filmed playing acoustic versions of their latest singles. Artists like Meg Mac, Vance Joy, WAAX and Citizin Kay playing to a four person audience was brilliant. 

We also got the chance to attend a number of private record label parties, where huge stars like Jack Johnston, Cloud Control and Good Charlotte played. But alas, all good things must come to an end, and the magazine was sadly shut down after the RS worldwide rights were bought out by a palm sugar billionaire.

On the musical side of the equation, you’re a member of the band Food Court. Who are your fellow band members, and what singles are you most well-known for?

So it’s me on vox/guitar, Lewey my best bro on vocals/bass, Niccy Jnr on drums and Dan on lead guitar. I’m actually trying to get them up to Port to play soon, fingers crossed. We’ve had a number of singles put on high rotation on triple j over the years, which is rad – songs like Slightest Brightest, 14 Years Young and For The Morning. And, we were lucky enough to play some cool shows supporting Courtney Barnett at the Metro and Catfish and The Bottlemen at Oxford Art Factory.

Food Court travelled to Austin, Texas, to play the South by Southwest music conference last year. What was this experience like?

It was super hard work, but totally amazing. We played nine shows in five days, which was a really fun but a hectically tiring time. It’s definitely a good way to tighten up your live set, and it was so great to play amongst 1,000 other bands and artists who were selected from around the world to play and showcase their music to the international music industry. 

I feel pretty blessed we were even selected, as over 20,000 artists and bands apply to play, and many aren’t successful. We ate tonnes of BBQ meat, partied at a radio owner’s castle, then finished with run of shows in New York and Canada.

As if you weren’t already busy, you’ve also started a new business, THREE SIXTY CREATIVE, locally. Who’s involved with this venture … and what do you specialise in?

It’s me doing all aspects of graphic/digital design and branding, Tim Helmy a photographer, videographer and DJ, and Adam Barbuto, a booking agent of music and events. We came up with the idea a few months back, as we saw a gap in the market and wanted to service the community with awesome creative work. 

No one was really running a hub of creatives in the Hastings region, so we thought we could start a one stop shop for any type of design, photography events and music bookings. We had many ideas for the name, but settled at Three Sixty Creative, as our address is 3/60 Lord St. Hit us up, as we’d love to hear from you!

Your creative collaborations are many … but what are the plans for you on the solo front? 

I’ve started a new solo project called FETES. It’s a mix of psych pop and electronica, which is really exciting, as it’s totally different to my music in Food Court. Basically, I’ll write a song then I get together with an electronic producer, and we produce the song together in the studio. 

I’ve been lucky enough to work with the super talented Curtis Kennedy (Kuren) and Lachy West (Walk The Moon) who really bring out new elements in my music that I never knew existed. It’s a really fun process, as I have complete control and can take the musical direction wherever I want – which rules.

When we reach the end of 2019, what do you hope you will have achieved, professionally, personally and musically?

Professionally I’m really keen to tap into the community with our company THREE SIXTY CREATIVE, by creating cool stuff for local people and businesses. I’m also starting a new quarterly music night called Hot Tropics, as I saw there weren’t many regular “live original music” nights in Port. I’m keen to try and rally the music lovers out to see some new Mid North Coast bands and artists. 

The first event will be May 11 at The Loungeroom, with headliners Mar Haze (Central Coast), Royal Chant (Port), Seafome (Sawtell) and Ill Sylvestor (Newcastle). 

Musically I’ll be releasing three more singles in the coming months and hopefully release my debut album by the end of 2019, along with some touring around Australia, also working on some really artistic and interesting video clips.

Personally I want to enjoy the beach as much as possible with my wife and sausage dog. I’m playing a lot of tennis and golf lately, which I never had time for in Sydney, so I’m really stoked to be living in this beautiful part of the world. 

Where can we find out more about you/follow your artistic journey?

I’ve just finished designing my new website for my design work, which you can check out here: www.cristiancampanodesign.com – it features a variety of work from over the years and even some new stuff I did for Festival Of The Sun here in Port Macquarie. 

For FETES you can find new singles on all the regulars, Spotify, iTunes and YouTube. Follow my musical creative process at my Facebook here: www.facebook.com/fetesmusic and Instagram here: www.instagram.com/fetesmusic.  

And here is one of most recent video clips. The newest one, Twenty Thirty Seven, was filmed on the seven hour train ride from Wauchope back to Sydney a few months back, when I visited my family back home in Sydney: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCrw54DNUjE

Thanks Cristian.

Interview: Jo Robinson.

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