Troy Mendham

‘The best design, the kind people talk about, remember and pass on to their friends is also the kind of design that’s great for business.’

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Where are you from?
Melbourne. Born and bred.

What inspires you?
The book I’m reading at the moment. The 12 year old boy who stole his mum’s credit card and ran away to Bali. The sunrise while I’m having my morning coffee. Children’s drawings. The fact that China filled an old coal mine with water and covered the entire surface with floating solar panels. The energy in a Vincent Van Gogh painting.

Favourite movie? (and why)
Running on empty. It’s an 80’s Australian movie about car street racing and probably not on any critics top list. It’s full of loud car action, male bravado and machismo, and it’s a love story.

Favourite album cover? (and why)

AC/DC Back in Black. It was the first ever album I bought. I was 5 or 6 years old. The version I bought was on cassette. I can’t remember if I knew the music or picked it for the cover. I love that album and it’s still a favourite. Putting my designer hat on it’s the simplicity and confidence of the design that appeals. It’s the album equivalent of a tight pair of black jeans. On a shelf full of albums featuring band cover shots this would have really stood out, which is maybe why I picked it in the first place.

In the record version, the logo and album title were embossed. This kind of rational simplicity can sometimes face client pushback and opposition but it’s totally appropriate to the music. There’s no trickery or designer high wire acrobatics there.

According to Angus Young, the album’s all-black cover was a “sign of mourning” for Bon Scott who had died earlier in the year it was recorded. Atlantic Records disagreed with the cover, but accepted if the band put a grey outline around the AC/DC logo.

Favourite holiday destination?
Byron Bay. I go there a few times a year.

What 6 people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party if you could?
1. John Russell, the Australian impressionist
2. His mate, Vincent Van Gogh
3. Bruce Lee
4. Alan Watts, the British-American philosopher
5. Madonna. She dated Basquiat. I think she’d make a great dinner guest. I like her music but I’m not a massive fan. She can choose the playlist.
6. My wife Tanya, so we can keep the conversation going later

Coffee or Tea?
Are you kidding? I’m from Melbourne. Coffee! Long macchiato thank-you very much. I did do decaf for 6 months under doctor’s orders (I had an ear infection). These days I try to stick to two a day. In my youth, it was up to seven a day!!

What are you most passionate about outside work?
Any spare moment I get I’m making paintings or thinking about making paintings. Either in my studio or nightly on the kitchen table (most likely when it’s my turn to cook dinner). One of my paintings was exhibited at the NGV in an exhibition showcasing the best of high school art in the state. At the time, my teachers told me to take it all in because I may never be shown at the NGV again. I really hope they’re wrong.