Man of Many Talents, Jackson Rafferty

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Jackson Rafferty … architectural draftsman, musician, photographer. This local man of many talents is making a name for himself in multiple artistic fields, proving that a keen eye, listening ear and creative talent can cross many boundaries …

What was your background like growing up in Port Macquarie? 

It was great! Similar to retirement, I spent the majority of my time fishing and surfing.

Growing up in housing commission and being the eldest of three brothers, money was tight and options limited. Luckily, I was able to go to a good school, St Joseph’s Regional, before transferring to Port Macquarie High for Year 11. Despite not having flashy toys growing up, I am now grateful for getting a good education and learning early good foundations for life.

What did you study in Newcastle, and how has this helped you with your current work?

After school, I had several jobs; although, I never really found anything inspiring. While working for Coles, 20 years old and no real clue what it was I wanted to do, I was offered an opportunity to start an apprenticeship with a highly respected firm, Walch & Roberts Consulting Engineers.

As part of my training, I was required to study in Newcastle Drafting Trades Certificate III (Structural Engineering). Two years down, and we saw the end of the boom … with only one year of TAFE to go, no financial support and only working 10 hours drafting a week, times were tough for a while. This was a huge stepping stone for me! Now working as a contract draftsman, I finished TAFE on my own and soon became qualified.
Looking for a challenge, I began studying architectural drawings, learning 3D rendering techniques and soon moved to architectural drafting. Working with several local architects and being a vital part of the 3D design process, I’ve had the pleasure of working on such projects as the Wauchope/ Bonny Hills SLSC, Sea Acres Rainforest Centre and countless amazing houses up and down the East Coast.

When did your interest in music begin?

Music is something I’ve always had, but it wasn’t until my teens that I really started playing. But it was soon pushed aside for other priorities – surfing/girlfriends. I always had a feeling I should play music professionally, but after a limited childhood, I knew it was imperative to have a career first (backup plan!)

But as life goes, you get caught up commitments and it’s easy to lose sight of what you really want in life. Until one day I woke up and realised my backup plan had taken over my dreams, and it was now time to make a change. Two years on, countless hours practicing, learning and performing, it’s all starting to happen.

And you’re now one half of a duo known as RifRaf …

RifRaf is a music duo consisting of myself and long-time friend Andrew Cuzzo Cousins. Starting out as athletic rivals in primary school and having mild obsessions for fishing, a friendship was quickly formed, and we remained good friends for several years. Ten years later after changing schools, life travels and several jobs later, Andrew came through my checkout while I was working at Coles. Randomly after all these years, we now shared a new unknown bond – music.

Now, another 10 years on, we have performed, recorded and grown musically past our expectations at many venues, weddings, functions etc.

As individual artists, we each have our own styles. We now perform regularly at The Pier Bar on Clarence, playing covers from artists such as Jack Johnson, James Blunt, Gotye, Neil Young and heaps more.

We always try to create a fun and energetic experience and challenging ourselves with different instruments (guitars, piano, bass and percussion).

I hear your interest in music has led you to learn more about the recording and producing side of the business as well …

If I get something new, I read the manual twice – I can’t help myself. I have to understand how it works, and music is no different. This is how it all started for me … reading books, watching YouTube and asking questions. Recording and producing is just a result of constant analysis. After all the time I’ve spent learning this stuff and with age, only now do I understand the discipline it takes to really succeed.

With this in mind and the massive amount of young talent I have seen lately, I have approached selected young local musicians and offered my services and knowledge to help build their profile. I’ve also had the opportunity to record the Quantum Soul Band live at the Pier and Blake Noble and I played/produced and recorded fellow band mates’ new song, Beneath the Sand. Hopefully soon I will find some time to finish my own songs.

As if you weren’t busy enough with your work and music, you also discovered you had an interest in photography. How did this evolve? 

Photography! I didn’t even think this was a real job! If I had my time over, I would have set out becoming a photographer in the first place. After a surf trip to the Maldives and a borrowed DSLR camera, I was surprised by my initial results.

Not knowing a thing about how a camera worked, composition or even what an exposure was, I returned home determined to buy a camera. After seeing the price, I was quickly deterred – and soon forgot about it. Two years later, I saw an image by local photographer, Cain Pascoe, displaying what creative effects could be achieved with motion blur. Seeing this image and what could be done, I was sold and went out and bought a DSLR camera the next day. Two years on, and I still have the same passion for capturing things people don’t see every day.

Now, after learning about composition, exposures and applying previous business skills, I have done work for National Parks & Wildlife, made finals in several competitions and I’m continuing to challenge my creativity.
You’re obviously a very creative person, who loves to work with both image and sound. Have you found a way to combine these two things? 

After many years of reading, researching and collecting equipment, it’s only been recently I have finally begun getting my work out there. After considering studying sound engineering/music performance at JMC music academy, Sydney, I really found a passion and real challenge for recording and trying to capture music to a commercial level.

Just like photography, the most rewarding thing for me is to be able to freeze something amazing, capture that unique moment, and to have access to it forever.

With these two skills now under my belt, it was only a matter of time before combining photography/videography with sound engineering. During a recent photo shoot with now international musician Blake Noble, he asked if I could shoot and record a music video to help support his upcoming US tour. With less than 24 hours’ notice, we organised a location, the equipment required and set out to capture something exciting before Blake left for the USA. With pleasing results, I’ve since been asked to create similar videos for other local artists.

Where can people go to view your work? 

You can view samples of my work at the following links:

Thanks Jackson.

Interview by Jo Atkins. Photo of Jackson:

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