Damon had a picturebook childhood on the surfcoast and hasn’t got around to leaving it. With an aesthetic referencing the greats of ’90s surf imagery, his own graphic design firm based in Geelong puts a modern spin on his childhood favourites. Using craftspeople and techniques as inspiration, he works with his hands to bring concepts to life.
Damon Armstrong-Porter: One of my earliest memories was reading Jeff Raglus’ Schnorkie at school and looking at Tony Edwards’ Captain Goodvibes comics in old Tracks magazines. I spent a good part of my young life drawing skulls, daggers and spitting barrels when I probably should have been doing Maths or Science. Growing up on the Surf Coast – the heart of Australian surfing, in the shadow of Quiksilver and Ripcurl HQs, boardriding culture has been a big part of my life. I remember at primary school when all the other kids were like, “I wanna be an Astronaut” or “I wanna be a Fireman” and I was like “I wanna be a Graphic Designer at Quiksilver or Ripcurl”. I don’t think I even really knew what a ‘Graphic Designer’ meant, but I knew it meant surfing and drawing and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
I established DAP Creative mid way through 2014, July I think it was. It’s just a baby really. I never wanted to live away from the ocean so Geelong seemed like the best place to set up shop for me, being half an hour from home (Jan Juc) and with a decent sized population. When the opportunity came up to secure a studio space at Factory 21 I quit my job working for ‘the man’, went out on my own and haven’t looked back. There aren’t any other spaces like Factory 21 in the region. Melbourne has plenty of similar spaces, but Geelong is lacking. So it’s really a great little creative hub with a fantastic mix of crew, from architects, painters, stylists, photographers to furniture designers and there are always new people with different passions arriving. It’s really inspiring to work in such a creative environment, there is always someone to bounce ideas off or get advice from.
Boardriding culture has been a big inspiration for me, cars, motorbikes and music are always a great source of inspiration too; but in these days of whiz-bang machines and computers I find that I am more inspired by the traditional means of design and artwork creation. I mean, I feel like now in an age when anyone can turn on a computer and design a logo or whatever, there is more value in handmade imagery and the people that are keeping the craft alive. So, I get a lot of inspiration from old signpainters, tattoo artists and the people that still use their hands to create their visuals.
The Surf Coast has always been a creative community, it’s full of artists and craftspeople. People like us tend to congregate in coastal towns, think of places like Byron Bay and San Francisco, I think it’s a lifestyle thing. Geelong in the past has not screamed creativity to me, but in recent years there has been an emergence of young artists and creatives in the region that has really surprised me.
My dream client would would probably be a company like Deus Ex Machina, one of the organisations that have inspired me – they continue to be creative and do their own thing, not compromising their artistic vision for profit. Or possibly an artist like Action Bronson or Foxygen, whose music and style inspires me, I think I could do something rad for someone like that.
King of the Castle Café (Geelong)
Murfs Surf Shop (Ocean Grove)
Lorne, for picturesque coastlines, shopping, cafes etc and working your way down the coast, camping, bushwalking and exploring.
Surfing would be my first answer, but there’s plenty of other activities that include shopping, wining and dining.
Geelong is derived from the aboriginal word ‘jillong’ which is believed to have meant ‘land’ or ‘cliffs’.
Best road trip
Driving up the East Coast with my girlfriend in my van, just the peacefulness of tucked away waves in south coast national parks and the feeling of freedom you get from any roadtrip.
Dream road trip
My dream road trip would be the West Coast of America I reckon, start up north in Washington State or Oregon and just drive, hike, camp and surf my way down to Mexico, stopping at all the places that I have only read about and dreamed of visiting on the way.