Thinking outside of the box: Candy Yelavich

This article was first published in the July 2022 issue of AP

Candy Yelavich started her career at QDigital in West Perth as a graphic designer. She was 21 years old, bright eyed, and a rookie post-grad – and the only female out of 50 male staff. Eternally grateful to QDigital’s Derek Williamson for giving her that opportunity, Yelavich has since secured under her belt 25 years of industry experience.  

“Even though I started my career in Perth, I have spent most of my time in Brisbane and a couple of years in London. In 1999, my portfolio caught the attention of the late Ron Weideman ‘Ronzo’ from George Patterson Y&R, famous for the Mitsubishi Tarago ‘Not so Squeezy’ sumo wrestler campaign,” she said. 

“He employed me as an art director across Paul’s Dairy, Energex and Warner Bros Theme Parks. Advertising was fun and fast-paced. At that time, Platypus was my preferred print supplier for my corporate clientele’s print collateral deliverables, and renowned as the best printers.”  

In late 2017, Platypus Print Packaging director Tom Lusch offered her the opportunity to creatively consult at the business, with her first job as having to rebrand the Platypus logo.  

“I designed the logo that we use today, known as Picasso Platypus. Picasso illustrated his animals with one line and the logo represents paper running through the machines, like an infinity closed loop cycle or racing car track,” she said.  

“Overall, in my time, I have created award-winning tv ads, brands and integrated campaigns, and art directed six national magazines. The most awarded were Energex Earth’s Choice Frog, Breaka and Trim Milk Pat Rafter campaigns. It is a bonus to see your designs in the marketplace and meet so many clever and talented individuals. 

“Life in printing is fun. It is abundantly full of colourful people, paper, swatches, and innovative packaging. Being a creative, no one day is the same. 

“I am proud of serving years and contributing to my industry committees or events such as Women in Print, the Australian Graphic Design Association, the Brisbane Advertising and Design Club, The Design Conference and World Packaging Organisation. Our community and industry network is very generous and supportive of one another, especially of industry women.

“I am also involved in the education of design students and provide lectures and industry tours at Platypus. They are our future generation game-changers.” 

Yelavich said the traditionally male-dominated industry is changing and that she would like to see more women in leadership roles throughout Australia.  

“The importance of balance and equilibrium can only filter down from leadership,” she said.  

“All my mentors have been strong sanguine rule breakers. The best tools they have provided me with is positive reinforcement and respect. I have always been given props by my peers and fortunate enough to have so many inspirational people by my side. 

“I am also inspired by my cousin Justine Ross, the author of ‘Every Bastard Says No: The 42 Below Story’, who reminds me to be fearless and more of a ‘yes’ person.”  

According to Yelavich, designers have the natural ability to think outside of the box, helping businesses with innovation and originality.  

“Designers are wired different; we go against the grain, find a new system, goal or strategic proposition and build a solution,” she said.  

“We try to make the impossible possible – creatives forecast, set trends, and do the opposite of what people expect. Anyone can add value by asking ‘what if?’ and I constantly do just that. 

“As a child, I loved scratch and sniff stickers. Print has scented, invisible, soy inks and augmented reality today all because someone asked ‘what if we added extra-sensory to the user experience?’.”  

Yelavich added that as Australia is evolving into an eco-conscious country, the time is ripe for designers to create exciting solutions for problems. One of Yelavich’s aims, apart from promoting gender equality, is advocating for responsible consumption and production as well as sustainability.  

“I hope more industries can even out their workforces equally between men and women. I am lucky that Platypus is a progressive business that has a positive environment for all employees with an equally balanced and healthy culture,” she said.  

“It is also important for our industry to get motivated in the sustainability and innovation space of compostable or recyclable packaging and the manufacturing of resource bi-waste products. As a female designer and consumer, I would like to design products with the SDGs and four ‘Rs in mind – reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink! My passion is innovative sustainable design.”  

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