3071 Cat Sinclair – Motion & Graphic Designer

Cat Sinclair at home on the couch
Cat Sinclair – at home on the couch

Cat has recently returned from living and working in London. Heavily pregnant, she talks to TENANT about her take on Melbourne after a year-long+ absence, the politics of pregnancy and a talented new young tattoo artist she would like TENANT to meet.

We were delighted when Catalina Sinclair agreed to be interviewed for TENANT. Her 8.9 month pregnant belly, her brand new home and her fresh take on Melbourne after living abroad, felt like exactly the right combination to launch TENANT, a mag/blog that documents and celebrates the lives and times of interesting and inspiring Melburnians.

Through a series of questions relating to suburb, family life, education and employment TENANT takes a community snapshot; documenting and illustrating how a city shapes a person, and how a person shapes a city.

Catalina works as a designer. She produces both motion and graphic design and has the admirable ability to translate and order her huge appetite for, and appreciation of, cultural diversity into lovely clean and intelligent designs – and she is not afraid of colour!

When did you know you wanted to be a Motion / Designer?

I applied and got a place at RMIT – B. Graphic Design – after high school, but I deferred, and then studied media and communications at Swinburne.

I was inspired to return to graphic design at the age of 25 when I created a logo for the café where I was working at the time and really enjoyed the process.

It was soon after returning to study that I got a job as a Production Assistant with a company called Iloura. Iloura are known for animation, vfx and high-end motion design. After I finished my degree I moved into the Iloura design team full-time.

TENANT knows Iloura – a hugely talented crew of designers and animators and no doubt a great place to work. So from then to now, what would be a professional achievement that you are most proud of?

I won’t name a project, but a process…I am really proud of jumping into the London freelance world. I met some fabulous clients and my learning was hugely accelerated. I recommend saying yes often – as it often yields results!

Congratulations, freelancing can be daunting; juggling jobs; cold calls; getting paid in time for the bills! But I believe you brought a few clients home with you to Melbourne? 

Yes, I am working for a company called Intentional Futures, a Seattle-based company, working on a thing called Big History, an educational project teaching evolutionary history from the big bang onwards.

A great gig, can’t wait to view the TED link you provided on the project and such 21st Century form of employment – via remote digital connection. Thank god for cable connection and broadband.

Yes and Skype! I am completely reliant on a good internet connection, which unfortunately has not been the easiest thing to organise when setting up a new home/offices!

Your Melbourne home office is in Thornbury. What attracted you to this suburb?

We chose to move to Thornbury, for a mix of reasons: affordability, proximity to the city and other cool things, including family. My partner Jack and I grew up North side, and after living away from Melbourne this area feels like home.

So you grew up in Thornbury?

No, I grew up in North Fitzroy 3068, where I would live if I did not live in Thornbury. It is a suburb soaked in great memories. Where so many turning points and big experiences happened… primary school, my first job, my first kiss….  Now it has been discovered to be the treasure it always has been, which is great in many ways.

Tell us about a few of the things you like in the 3071 neighborhood?

The local pool! It has lots of grass and lovely gum trees… it is like a country pool. It is a really relaxing communal space. And there is a great bookshop called Perimeter Books in Thornbury. One of the things I spend a lot of time admiring is the detail in the beautiful old shop fronts along the Thornbury end of High Street and imagining what I would do with them!

Now you are back, with fresh eyes, and…nose – what would be a smell that reminds you of Melbourne?

There is a summer blossom smell, I can’t recall the plant name…it’s not Jasmine, but the smell is like a musk lolly – this smell always takes me home. Is it wattle blossom?!

Either that or potato cakes, I missed them so in London!

What is a place that feels like home that is not Melbourne and why?

That would have to be Bethnal Green E2, where we lived for a year in the UK. I loved it so much there; I even designed a tote bag to commemorate E2 daily life! The designs were inspired by patterns I noticed on the streets and buildings in E2.

Cat's E2 tote bag designs

A neat project! At the moment sitting in your home office in Thornbury, what does your ‘dream project’ look like?

I would love to design patterns for Ikea textiles. I have wanted to do this for a long time. I love the scope for culture and colour. It’s something I would really love to do!

Having just returned from London, you must be enjoying a fresh take on Melbourne life. As you know TENANT is very interested in how Melburnians’ cultural decisions affects the city’s ongoing culture.  Is there any change you would like to fast track in Melbourne?

I think that Australians could learn to be more proud of themselves, their culture and what they have to offer. I think cultural cringe still exists and feeling meek about your talent is something that the Brits and Americans just don’t spend that much time thinking about. We produce an astounding amount/quality of work and we need to just get on with it, rather than always spend time explaining that we’re Australian, if you know what I mean…!

I am also curious about the trend towards waiting to start a family. In London I saw many young, cool hip families but returning to Melbourne I feel I am a ‘young’ mum and I am just about to turn 30! I think Melburnians are in a mind-set of  achieving certain things, a tick list if you will, before they commit to a ‘next grown-up phase’… whereas in London I felt the attitude was weighted towards a more natural evolution – that parents don’t need to have “made it” or to prove something to someone (anyone?) before having children and growing a family. Anyway… just something I am thinking about!

Interesting observations – thank you; for your time and letting TENANT into your world. There are two more questions for you, who would you like to introduce to TENANT and what’s on for you this week?

I would like to introduce TENANT to Oli Christenson an incredibly talented tattooist friend I met in the UK. He is originally from NZ, but has moved to Melbourne and I think he would have some interesting views on the city for TENANT.

And what’s on for the week…? Probably a trip to the Royal Women’s Hospital, where I will meet my first child! Exciting!

Understatement! Good luck for the big birthday and thanks again for speaking to TENANT.

Cat & Jack mantel-piece scrabble letters
Cat & Jack mantel piece scrabble letters

A week after our interview Cat gave birth to her first child, son Archie.  We welcome a new lil’ Melbourne tenant and send a big congrats to two lovely new parents, Jack and Cat.


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