McKean Studio's resident illustrator, designer, and mini-city maker, Megan McKean is on a quest to Make Souvenirs Better, and we can attest that she's passing with flying colours (literally!). Being colour-lovers at ALAS, we especially connect with how her use of colour, shape, and distinct illustrative style appeals to all ages. We sat down with Megan recently to chat Australiana, inspiration, and how to protect her morning brain...
We love everything that you and your partner create for McKean Studio. Everything is so beautiful and fun! What motivated you and your husband [Joshua] to create so many beautiful items and start up your online store?
We were working under the banner of McKean Studio while we were finishing up our studies and enjoying being newly married. We took off on a round-the-world honeymoon in 2012 (the benefits of being students and nabbing the cheap flights!) and were so inspired by what we were able to see and experience on our first trip together. Later that year we also drove the Californian west coast, and I came home with lots of ideas swimming in my head around travel. I created some illustrations inspired by some of the cities we’d visited that year and turned them into our (now) Silk Souvenir Scarves as a passion project, but the response was overwhelming and lots of people wanted them! I’d spent most of 2012 working on my major project for university, which focused on Australiana and the desire for souvenirs that are both memorable and beautiful. I’d inadvertently created the perfect case study through my personal work, and we’ve been building our brand in the last couple of years with the focus on ‘Making Souvenirs Better’.
All of your pins are so tropical, and have a wonderful 'holiday' vibe about them.. where is your (and your partner's) number one place to escape to? What's your ideal holiday?
Our number one place to escape to would undoubtedly be Palm Springs. We fell hard and fast for the desert and now try to get back there once a year. The first time we visited (on our US trip in 2012) I was so upset when it was time to leave, and made Joshua promise we’d visit again someday. That day was only a year later, and now we’re always scheming on when we can get back. Neither Joshua or I are really ‘beach people’, but we can get on board for pool lounging and mid-century architecture viewing!
So much of what we create at McKean Studio does focus on travel and capturing that holiday vibe, and hopefully keeps people inspired for their next holiday while they’re working at their desks.
Do you have any morning rituals - with or without Joshua, to get you ready for a productive day ahead of you?
I’m definitely a morning person, and Joshua and I are both ‘early to bed, early to rise’ types. We usually wake up and have a cup of coffee together while we’re getting ready for the day. It’s really lovely to have just 10 minutes at the start of our morning to chat about the coming day and what we need to (or what we would like to) achieve. Joshua works full time outside of McKean Studio, so I normally just head into the studio at the same time he leaves for work. I walk to the studio every morning, and have recently tried to keep my phone on airplane mode until I’m in the studio and switching on for the days work, so my morning brain isn’t interrupted with emails.
Where are you most inspired?
I find inspiration pops up in a lot of unexpected places for me most of the time. Travelling has a huge impact on our creative process and idea generation, but the ideas usually crop up in the shower, or when I’m meant to be working on something else altogether! I’m a chronic ‘procrasti-worker’ always having new ideas at the busiest or most inconvenient times. That said, I do believe that inspiration comes of working, so I guess it’s all part of it! I love to visit museums and galleries for a little inspiration burst, looking through some illustrated books or even just get outside for a walk to break up the day when I’m feeling a little stuck.
What is the best part about working with your partner?
While Joshua and I do work on a lot together on McKean Studio, I’m often doing a lot of the groundwork solo - administration, packing orders, planning for new designs, and illustration jobs. For us, the time we are able to work together is really relished, because it’s not part of our every day. It’s a real treat to get to plan some new products together or paint a new batch of Mini Cities. Running a small business means that most of this happens in the evenings or on weekends, so it’s a good thing we like working together!
Working with a person who has the same goals and the same level of personal investment makes a huge difference, but the best part about working with my partner is that there’s never a question of “if” I can do something - he’s got my back completely, and trusts that whatever I’m scheming up will work out and is supportive of the trial and error that often comes before the win.
Any tips for a peaceful night's sleep?
Magnesium! I’m a huge stresser and it manifests in my body in all different ways like stress roulette (headaches, rashes, lock-jaw!) BUT I’ve found magnesium to be far and away the most helpful thing I’ve ever taken. Having one tablet before bed helps me sleep better and feel so much calmer.
I’m also a big believer in comfy jammies, silk pillowcases and a tidy bedroom.
The TEAM.WORK x Studio Home collaboration is exclusively available on our online store. Photos: Megan McKean