Virginia Woolfe believed that in order to create you needed “money and a room of one’s own.” We check in with four local creatives and discover that, more often than not, the space needed is inside your own mind.

Writer: Amy Doak – Photographer: David Field

Animator, illustrator and author Chris Kennett is quiet, calm and humble. Happy to chat about his life and his art, he is almost unaware that he is accomplishing great things and achieving wonders that others in his industry are still striving for.
Working from his home in Strathdale, you can easily see that Chris (and his family) have an appreciation for mid-century modern design and aesthetics. This style is also a little apparent in many of his illustrations. “I am definitely influenced by that era,” Chris admits. “Hana Barbara and other animation of the late 60s, early 70s. It’s a great style.”
Chris’ office – a spare room in the home with a sensational view and loads of light – is organised and tidy yet filled with colour and fun thanks to models and samples of his art. Three large screens on his desk flash a variety of his work and it’s clear that Chris is one seriously prolific artist.
“I’ve always loved to draw,” he says when asked about starting a career in animation and illustration. “Growing up in the UK, I studied art when I did my A levels but I didn’t really know where I’d go with it.”
In 1998, Chris followed his heart and his then-girlfriend, now-wife to Australia – specifically Castlemaine. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and I started mucking about with flash and animation. I contacted a few websites that worked with the software that I was using and one of them – a website based in LA that did e-cards – offered me some freelance work. I worked for them for the next seven years, whilst doing other things as well, and I guess my career sort of went from there.”
You could say that. In 2011 Chris released his first book, Alpha Monsters (he’s gone on to do another and illustrate for over a dozen authors), and he has just completed work as Design Supervisor for the screen adaptation of the very famous kids’ book, The Day My Bum Went Psycho (written by Andy Griffiths). “It’s been great,” he smiles. “I really enjoyed the studio experience and given it’s so easy to get to Melbourne from Bendigo, I was still able to work from home at times.”
His next piece of work to be released is part of a series of Little Golden Books based on the Star Wars franchise – his contribution being The Empire Strikes Back. “It was such a great honour,” Chris says.
Given that Chris has always worked from home, he has found ways to be creative from a variety of spaces before landing the somewhat luxurious one he currently works out of now. “In our old place, I had a sort-of-room way at the back of the house,” Chris laughs at the memory. “It had no heating and no cooling. It wasn’t awful, but it definitely wasn’t ideal! I think having even a small corner that you can make your own is important, but perhaps I feel that way because I am the youngest of five kids. I have spent lots of time trying to find my own little corner! Having a family of my own now means that I am always surrounded by lots of noise and activity – that’s just part of life – and you just have to work your creativity in around that.”
If you would like to see more of Chris’ work and keep up to date with his projects, visit his website at www.crikeyboy.blogspot.com.au