T2Life_EviO-8573-schmallReadMe_06.15_shot 1_05This is my interview with Evi Oetomo. Portrait photo by Magenta Burgin.

What inspired you to start designing? When it comes to designing books, the author’s vision and the book’s content are always my first inspiration. Designing a book is a very personal task, in that you are trusted by someone to make sure their voice is presented in the way they wish to be presented.

Looking back, which experiences, jobs and personality traits do you think have really helped you? It’s quite unusual in that I’ve only had one real job straight out of university. I have been with Penguin Books for 8 years, and have worked on various adult and children’s imprints, before solely working on illustrated books under the Lantern imprint. This has given me a broad perspective into the different nature of designing for different readers. I’m also, by nature, very curious and always have side projects happening, whether it be creating art, drawing or objects. Working in a multidisciplinary environment is very stimulating to me personally and helps to keep my creative juices flowing.

What’s the best part of your job? The people I get to interact with has to be the best part of my job. I’ve been very lucky and privileged working at the Lantern imprint, as it houses the most talented team of authors, editors, production controllers, photographers, stylists, etc. Working with these people turns work into play.

What do you look for in terms of design when buying a book? I am very shallow when it comes to this, but it has to look good. Often if a book is not well designed I would opt to get the electronic version.

What do your bookshelves at home look like – where are they and how do you arrange your books? I have two bookshelves. One in the living room keeps all the books I think look their best and they help decorate the room. A lot of my mono books live in my bedroom together with other books I’m currently reading, ready to be grabbed anytime before bed.

Do you have a favourite museum or art gallery? The Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima Island, Japan, designed by Tadao Ando is an amazing building.

When you go into a bookshop, which department do you head straight to? I’d often go straight to illustrated books department to see what new beauties are out, check out what other publishing houses are doing. I can easily pass 2 to 3 hours just perusing new titles and countless moments of contemplation about whether I should bring some of them home.

What do you choose to do in your spare time? I find painting and drawing very relaxing, accompanied by good music on the record player or TV shows in the background.

What are your favourite tools? I love my manual drawing and painting tools. I’m currently having a love affair with acrylic paints.

What are you working on next? In book land, I’ve just finished a book for T2 (very exciting) and George Calombaris’ latest cookbook titled Greek, which is pretty wacky. In art land, I’m working on a body of work to be part of a group show titled Geometrica, opening early September at Mild Manners gallery, Surry Hills.

Read my review of ‘Books; ABDA 63rd Australian Book Design Awards 2015’ here and ‘T2 The Book’ here.

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