Beck Fenier

Beck Feiner

Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication (2003)

Designer, Illustrator and Aussie iconographer

The A to Z of Creativity

Visual communications graduate Beck Feiner has a knack for reinventing traditional design objects by infusing them with inspiration, imagination, and a touch of good humoured icongraphy.

Her ‘Aussie Legends’ Alphabet, celebrating a ‘must know’ list of Australians “that make this country so darn great” has attracted both national media attention, and captured the imagination of the next generation (and their parents), in its reimagining of the traditional children’s A-Z alphabet poster, turning the quintessential ‘A is for Apple’ on its head.

Beck took some time out from her design work (and accepting flattery from SBS personality Lee Lin Chin) to share the story behind the project, how she is using her design talents for social good, and what inspires her creative drive.

What prompted you to create the ‘Aussie Legends Alphabet’?

A - Adam Goodes

I was looking for an alphabet poster for my son’s room and I found all the art sweet but a little on the mundane side. I wanted something more impactful than B is for banana. And that’s how the ‘Aussie Legends Alphabet’ was born. I wanted to brighten up kids’ rooms, and help them learn the alphabet while learning about some of Australia’s legendary figures at the same time.

I feel like each of these Aussie icons starts an interesting conversation. I wanted to show everyone (especially kids) that a diverse range of people have made Australia awesome. This includes people of different race, gender, and cultural backgrounds. In this current political climate, it’s important for kids to see how important diversity really is.

How did you decide on which Australian icons to feature in the alphabet?

It was so hard! I had to be a bit ruthless. I had to try and imagine Australia without that person. If that feels disappointing, then that person’s an Aussie Legend. You know what I mean? Take away Eddie Mabo, Victor Chang, Kath & Kim or Steve Irwin and it’s just not the same amazing country.

One of my favourite legends I did was Fred Hollows. The Fred Hollows Foundation particularly loved what I did and I have partnered up with them and a portion of the profits of each poster will be donated to their foundation. It is an amazing charity that aims to help end avoidable blindness.

The alphabet has certainly gained a lot of media coverage and generated a lot of social media buzz – what’s it been like managing all the attention?
“I wanted to show everyone (especially kids) that a diverse range of people have made Australia awesome – people of different race, gender, and cultural backgrounds. It’s important for kids to see how important diversity really is.”

Incredible! I feel so overwhelmed (in an amazing way). You never know how something like this will be received, and the response I have received has been so lovely. I have had legends like Lee Lin Chin, one of my favourites, make me her Twitter icon which was a huge buzz. Plus other legends, who have seen it on social media have reached out and given me positive feedback. The National Library of Australia has also ordered a poster for their collection which is a huge compliment.

What drives you? What are your passions?

I’m very aware of the world my two young kids are coming into and that I want to be a part of shaping it. And on a career level, I have wanted to for a long time be my own boss and this project has helped me actualise this.

I absolutely love illustrating and creating things that people enjoy and get use out of.(And I’d love feedback and ideas from anyone who wants to reach out!)

Why are you passionate about visual communications and visual storytelling?

From before I can remember I drew and told stories. It always went hand in hand. So it seemed so natural for me to develop this into a career. It’s a bit out of my control. If I am not illustrating something every day, I don’t feel like myself.

What are some of the projects you've been working on, or projects that you are particularly proud of, since finishing your degree?

After the birth of my daughter, I co-created a project called Mum’s Milestones. We recreated the traditional babies’ milestone cards such as ‘I walked for the first time’. And did satirical new ones instead for the mums, such as, ‘Today I got my skinny jeans half way up my thighs’ or ‘I went to the bathroom alone for the first time’. The idea went really well and resonated with a lot of women who felt like they head lost their identity in the process of becoming a parent. A portion of the profits also went to a Post Natal Depression charity so it opened up discussions on this too.

And now I’m in the process of turning this Alphabet Series into a book which is exciting. I am also going to be expanding it into other areas. So stay tuned!

What would you describe as you career highlights or defining moments in your life?

Career highlights would include becoming a Senior Art Director and being signed to an agency as an illustrator, while my defining moment would definitely be becoming a mum to two amazing kids. It’s been a huge challenge trying to carve out a careerand have children. I am super proud that I was able to do this Alphabet Series while juggling a young family.

What was your experience of study visual communications at UTS?

D - Dame EdnaMy time studying visual communications has been a highlight of my life so far. I really found the course inspired me in so many ways. It was also broad enough that I could explore and begin to discover what my true passions were. I loved the lecturers and the interesting projects they gave us. I also made some life-long friends who I still know and often work with. It felt like a real community there. I often wish I could go back to that time.

Do you have any advice for students who are about to graduate today?

After I graduated I felt quite lost. It was a huge jump and I felt impatient to find myself in a successful career. My advice would be; don’t stress. If you don’t find your dream job straight away, that’s not necessarily a bad thing and can often make you even hungrier to do amazing things.

You can see the full alphabet and more of Beck’s creations on her website, or get a daily dose of creative inspiration on her Instagram account @beckfeiner_illustrations.

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