This eclectic free spirit landed in Melbourne and embraced the city’s artistic culture. Gav Palmer tells us about the transition from Tuncurry surfer boy to T-shirt designer in our new Home Grown segment.
Full Name Gavin James Palmer.
Job: Freelance baby!
At first I was on apprentice wages in Geelong and trying to hustle any extra money from the government I could to try and keep my chin up, but it wasn’t enough. Leaving in the dark and getting home in the dark was freaking me out, so I was looking for any exit!
Not long after, I was offered a job in Melbourne by a friend in the city who employs a lot of young surfers and skaters, working with blinds – which for me wasn’t exactly a cup of Earl Grey, but I just couldn’t say no to the hours! No one could! So it was my fast ticket out of Geelong.
I was drawing a bit more, surfing down around Torquay flat out, living with a few mates, going out and meeting new people, and I had a few new surfboards that I had gone at with the paints, and people were starting to notice!
From that I was approached by a skate shop, who have recently run one of my designs on their shirts.
It’s truly satisfying to see something you’ve drawn up from scratch hanging on racks with price tags attached. And walkin’ past someone you don’t know wearing your design was also a crazy feeling!
So this, for me, was living!
I’ve been around a lot of people in Melbourne, though, who choose corporate paths – and they’re just not really having any fun!
You have got to make time for the things you love! So balancing lifestyle and work is key in life. It’s each to their own, but for me personally at 20, climbing a corporate ladder or working 12 hour days stinks!
> Where did you grow up?
I grew up mainly in Tuncurry, which was perfect, as surfing Tuncurry with Coen was a daily habit. By around the end of my schooling, we had moved to Green Point. So all over the Great Lakes area, really!
> When did you leave?
I had finished Year 12 the year before hand and spent the summer doing retail at Saltwater Wine.
By winter, shifts in the shop where pretty rare! So surfing, sleeping in, surfboard art for local surfers, watching Austar and spending time with the NCAC boys became the ritual.
Then I was sitting in the lounge room one night, and my dad sat down and said I’d been offered a job from a close friend of his down in Torquay, Victoria.
He said they needed someone switched on and into art and design and that my name had popped into his head right away; I guess he just thought I had the minerals!
I was petrified!
I talked to some friends, and they thought I should do it. I started thinking positively about it and realised I had nothing to lose! So I went for it. I was on a flight the following Monday.
> What were some of the biggest lifestyle changes from Tuncurry to Melbourne?
Everything was a lifestyle change!
I was completely out of my comfort zone! Trains! Trams! Schedules! The dreaded hook turn … different cultures and foods … the people … the girls, nightlife, AFL, dealing with cabbies … everything!
Moving to a place as big as Melbourne was intoxicating! There were so many different things going on and things to take in! It’s a big move, but I do recommend it!
> What is the best memory from home?
Ahh … you’re making it to easy! The warm temperature, for sure!
> What is on your horizon?
Recently I was talking to a friend of mine who works over at Chapel Street, and he wants me to send him some designs. But more art for sure!
> Favourite part of your journey so far?
Living in the city! It’s something as a kid I said I’d never do; so yeah, just stepping out of my comfort zone for sure!
> Advice to other young designers in the area
It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve got! As long as you take pride in what you’re doing!
You might be a kid with nothing! But just be confident about your work, be confident about yourself, feel good with what you’re doing, show respect and people will start to talk!
Confidence has no budget!
> Life quote …
I think a famous quote from Point Break should get the message across quite nicely:
‘’This was about us against the system. That system that kills the human spirit. We stand for something. We are here to show those guys that are inching their way on the freeways in their metal coffins that the human spirit is still alive!”
> Thank you Gav.