Brains Behind Design Collective “The Harvest” Talk Success & School

The best ideas are said to be born when the egg of creativity is fertilised by many tiny streams of passion and perseverance, or something to that effect. Chloe Isaac and Adam Byrne are the humans behind creative collective The Harvest, who met whilst studying at CATC Design School in Sydney. If we were to describe their evolution as a team using ubiquitous euphemisms, we might do it by combining “humble beginnings” and “dream team.” Here, they talk us though how CATC paved the way for The Harvest and their past, present and future visions.

So you both studied graphic design at CATC. Are you able to provide some insights into teaching approaches and learning facilitation offered in the course? What might you say sets Graphic Design @ CATC apart from other design colleges?

Looking back at our time at CATC, The Rocks, we really feel that it absolutely prepared us for our careers in the Design industry. We worked with a variety of lecturers who were highly experienced in the industry, and this meant it kept their knowledge and skills current and relevant for us students. These lecturers also offered support and mentoring even once we had left the college.

We also feel that the way that the briefs and projects were structured really prepared us for the expectations and demands of the clients we now work with on a daily basis. CATC, The Rocks, taught us the importance of collaboration, and the design briefs reflected this and encouraged it through continuous student interaction.

The facilities were also excellent, not only located on the waterfront at Circular Quay but the classrooms are in a heritage-listed, loft style studio environment …what better creative space could we have asked to be located in?!

To what extent would you say style can be taught? Would you say that
CATC equips its students with technical skills and encourages a design approach that evolves organically, or something else?

The word patience comes to mind firstly!

For us, personally, we feel our styles were created through a variety of different influences. Our own environment and personalities are two that come to mind. Throughout our time at CATC we were exposed to a number of different design styles, skills and techniques in order to find inspiration but, we were also always pushed to further ourselves beyond that. We were guided through the organic process of finding our own style. I think what we learned that’s really important is to persevere and have patience – and your own style will develop.

You met whilst studying. Was it a case of bonding over similar design styles and wanting to learn from, or feed off each other?

We connected personally and creatively but most of all we developed a real respect for each others’ opinion. Throughout the course we were constantly collaborating and bouncing ideas off one another, and this eventually lead us to start up the Harvest Creative & Co.

The Harvest was something you launched shortly after graduating. Was it always the intention [for both of you] to delve into your own self-initiated project rather than getting a job somewhere already established?

Towards the end of our course we both started questioning ‘Well, where to next …?’ We shared a similar passion for design and we also discovered that we both had the desire to eventually build a creative studio in the town we lived in. Once we started talking about it, we realised that it could actually work, and that was that. There was no going back. And as that idea became a reality the vision has only got bigger!

What were some challenges or fears you had in the initial phases prior to launching? Do you think you’ve overcome them well?

Everything from the start was trial and error for us. Neither of us had managed a studio before let alone our own business, so really we were just jumping in the deep end. It was great having a partner, not doing it alone though! It was also nice to know we could contact our lecturers when advice was needed as well. You need support like that from people in the industry, just to make sure you’re on the right track.

Every day we’re learning a lot, and finding better ways to do things, not only through our design but through the structure of how a business is and should run.

How important do you think design is in communication, particularly in the current super-dynamic climate that’s dictated by high media saturation and digital prevalence?

Communication is fundamental to Design. Yes, graphic design should look good but ultimately, if it doesn’t communicate a message then you haven’t really done your job properly as a designer. If you want to make an authentic connection with an audience then you need to create an engaging piece of design that communicates by delivering a message, making a statement, or simply asking the audience to form a response to the concept you’re presenting. And this idea is only becoming increasingly important in the digital age that we’re working in. The public expects designers to interact with them continuously and across multiple platforms, whether it is Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram or Twitter etc. I guess the challenge for us as young designers is that we need our communication to compete with a lot of visual noise and ‘media saturation’ as you say. But that doesn’t scare us, it just means we have to look at new ways of doing things, so we stand out and that’s exciting!

Can you give us a rundown of The Harvest, how it operates, and how your collaborators came to be involved?

Each week brings us new opportunities whether that be photographing feature stories for our online journal, or meeting with clients, to spending long hours in our studio loft nutting out designs.

At the beginning of each week we come together and go over our week ahead. Our online journal has given us an incredible amount of opportunities to collaborate with other creatives from writers to artists, photographers to videographers – it’s an endless list! If there’s an opportunity to talk to someone interesting we do it, we don’t have a set structure.

The one great thing is being able to be open to collaborations with the other artists and craftspeople in our community, either by them initiating contact with us, or by us going out and finding people to work with. There’s no set plan, things seem to be evolving pretty naturally for us right now.

Were there some other creative collectives you guys looked to for inspiration before launching The Harvest? What do you believe sets The Harvest apart from its counterparts?

We’re both surrounded by a lot of creative people who inspire us in many ways. There wasn’t really a collective or studio that we aspire to be like but when creating The Harvest we wanted to create something unique that was a reflection of us as creatives.

We believe what sets us apart is who we are and our philosophy. We believe if you’re being true to who you are as an artist and what you’re creating from the heart then that’s what sets you a part. That’s where your uniqueness comes from. That’s what we enjoy, being around such a diverse range of people and hearing (and sharing) their stories.

Are there some pivotal moments or examples of the success or growth of The Harvest— Like “proud parent” moments for the thing that you both created?

Launching our website and creating our own Photographic/Design studio space were our biggest proud parent moments! But its moments like being featured on The Loop & CATC CatchPIG websites, sponsoring the upcoming CATC graduation and working with I-Manifest at the Vivid Festival that make all the stressful times worth while and give us passion to keep going!

Classic closing question right here: what are your plans for the future of The Harvest and where would you like to see it go in five years?

Our plans are to one day be printing our (now online) journal Little River as a quarterly magazine, and then taking it global. We also want to keep on growing, and creating interesting collaborative opportunities with other artists, and of course get better for ourselves, as Designers, Photographers and all round creatives.

To learn more about
CATC Design College head to 

The Harvest Creative & Co from The Harvest Creative & Co on Vimeo.