Interview - Coffee Break with Meg Berry

6th Sep 2019 • Enrichment

"Creativity and play is such a fundamental part of us – I see this first and foremost with what my kids will make with a fistful of LEGO grabbed at random, but it sometimes takes a backseat as we grow into adulthood. . "

(Above: QT Perth Hotel by Studio Ongarato with Artcom)

Meg Berry is a Project Manager (and signage geek) at Artcom in Perth. Artcom specialise in 3D printing, neon signs, engraving and everything in between! Meg kindly took some time out to answer a few questions for us. It was fascinating to delve in to the process and meticulous thought behind their work.

Can you tell us a little about Artcom?

Artcom Fabrication started 20 years ago by Mark Walkden & Marisa Camer-Pesci with a single computerised engraving machine. Mark used to work with adults with intellectual disabilities, and as part of their occupational therapy they did trophy engraving. However, the manual machines were tricky for some individuals to use due to limited mobility, and the introduction of the computer controlled engravers made a huge difference. Fast forward to today, and Artcom has expanded to a staff of 13 (I’m amazed at the diversity and volume of work this still relatively small team produces!). We design (or work with existing designs) and manufacture a huge range of projects – my specialty is signage and graphics, but we also do a lot of display, exhibition, equipment labelling, public artworks – the list goes on but effectively if you need something custom made, we can make it for you out of just about anything. We have some of WA’s most cutting-edge equipment on-site, which most recently has expanded to include the only large format 3D printer in Western Australia.

What are some of the interesting materials you have worked with?

My favourite material to use with has got to be traditional glass tube neon (that’s the signage geek in me), although there are some really great LED alternatives out now and we’ve done some really interesting projects with that as well! Our new large format 3D printer is amazing – that’s opened up a whole other realm of possibilities for us in terms of the forms we can produce, and it ties in with one of my other favourite materials – Axolotl metal finishes. I haven’t had a chance to marry the two yet, but I’m dying to do so.

How important is font and colour choice when it comes to signage?

For wayfinding or informational signage, it’s absolutely critical – not so much for any specific font or colour, but there has to be an understanding of what’s appropriate given the surrounding environment, as well as contrast between the figure/ground and also the legibility of the type and icons. This means a solid understanding of the principles of typography by the designer to ensure that the information in such signage is absorbed by the viewer quickly and effectively – whether you’re looking for a turnoff on the freeway, trying to get to a connecting flight with no time to spare, or exiting a building in an emergency. This signage doesn’t need to be ugly either! It’s been a particular mission of mine to try and put as many well designed (compliant!) statutory signs out into the world as possible.

(Above: Corpus Christi College Theatre by EIW Architects with Artcom)

Most memorable project you’ve worked on?

I couldn’t choose any one project as being the most memorable. I definitely hold very dear the memory of working on The Squire’s Fortune for the Kapinkoffs (now ARK Group) with Lion Co and Sydney-based graphic designers ExtraBlack. It was my first big win when I started working at Artcom back in 2014, and I continue to enjoy a great working relationship with all who were involved. QT Hotel Perth was absolutely unforgettable as well, thanks to the otherworldly designs of Studio Ongarato. There was such a huge range of materials and techniques involved in that project that we’d never used anywhere else – but the results were amazing.

Who or what inspires you?

In this line of work, I’m really fortunate to be able to work with artists, graphic designers, architects, engineers, stylists, producers and other top creatives every single day. The level of imagination that these minds possess, and the products of them, never ceases to amaze and inspire me. Creativity and play is such a fundamental part of us – I see this first and foremost with what my kids will make with a fistful of LEGO grabbed at random, but it sometimes takes a backseat as we grow into adulthood. To work in an environment completely surrounded by it is absolutely thrilling.

Find out more about Artcom here.

(Above: Squire's Fortune by ExtraBlack with Artcom)