Our Education & Community Access Manager recently interviewed Patick James Howe, Set Designer of Coma Land. He shares his career path and highlights the benefits of close collaboration with other artists, especially on new works.
You were first involved with Black Swan as a designer in our 2015 emerging artist program. How has your career evolved since then?
Since 2015 my career has continued to grow. Being a part of that program, a credibility to build and has also exposed my work to a broader audience. That I may not have had the chance to do so before.
What is your background in the arts? How did you become set on this path of designing for the performing arts?
Going back some time my artistic background lies in street art. When I left school in year 9 I completed a cabinet making apprenticeship I didn’t become involved in theatre until I went to ANU. It was there that my lecturer found out I was a cabinet maker and suggested I should build some sets.
Tell us about the world of Coma Land? How will you be representing it on stage?
Soft landings, contained but intimate, horizon-less and different plane of consciousness are the fundamental ideas that informed the world of Coma Land. To achieve this we used clean lines, soft textured materials and played around with levels and movement.
How closely do a set designer and costume designer collaborate? Tell us about the creative connection forged when working as part of a design team on bringing a play to life for an audience?
It is different from production to production. However on this production both Rozina and I worked very closely together. We spent a couple of weeks, side by side, developing the concepts together.
The relationships you form during this process is like being a part of a temporary family. You get to share your thoughts and feelings together during that period of time. It helps you grow as an artists, being exposed to different thoughts and ideas helps to build your own ideas, that further informs your work.
Any advice for emerging artists? Who inspired you growing up? What made you want to have a career in this industry?
Stick with it. It’s only a matter of time before you get your chance.
Those who inspired me growing up were the older people that still dressed like they were a teenager and still followed their passions. That is probably why I wanted a career in this industry, I wanted to be like them; 1) never grow up and 2) follow your passion.