L: Michael Newton on the other side of the camera R: The bells and whistles camera he uses. Photos – Siobhan Curran
It’s most likely I discovered Showbag tumblr via the tumblr of all Newcastle tumblrs, The View From King Street. There was never an identity behind the tumblr so I enjoyed the daily postings of photos as anonymously as the author. I sometimes linked to particular photos on TNF posts – ones that document every day scenes in Newcastle with a clever angle or a witty photo title.
Fast forward a year or so later and I was introduced to Michael Newton at a Creative Talks session. ‘Michael’s the guy with the photo blog’, I was told as we were introduced. After prodding for a little more detail (there’s a lot of photo blogs out there!), I made the connection. ‘No way! I love your blog. What sort of camera do you use?’ I asked, thinking Michael carried around a 5D with him at all times but noticing it conspicuously absent at this point. Michael puts his hand in shirt pocket and pulls out battered point and shoot. ‘No way!’ I exclaimed again. Yes way.
Graphic Design at The University of Newcastle
Brief stint in Melbourne
Back home and now Art Director at Enigma
What has been your most memorable project?
Production Designer on the award winning feature film Mikey’s Extreme Romance. It was a pretty intense shoot where I worked on everything from costumes, props and set design to titles, animation sequences and posters. Awesome fun, big learning, tiny budget. Australian release very soon, watch this space!
What would be your dream project?
Another feature film, but with a Hollywood budget. And assistants. Or maybe a Novocastrian distillery.
It’s Quite Noisy, 2012, Michael Newton
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Best Director at the 2006 Newcastle Film Festival was pretty cool. I entered a short film we had made for The Shoot Out that year. I didn’t even go to the presentation because there was no way I had a chance. Luckily some of the crew accepted it on my behalf. I miss The Shoot Out.
Also, every day since 1 January 2011, I have uploaded a photo taken that day to my Tumblr site. I initially intended it as a month long personal project, but it has become a valuable habit to actually take notice of where I am and what I am doing and to look at things differently. Subject matter and quality vary wildly, just like a real showbag. With no promotion the site has gained followers with likes, links, comments and reblogs that astound me.
Pop, 2012, Michael Newton
What is your most treasured possession?
It’s a ‘bakfiets’ style cargo bike custom built by my uncles and dad. I helped hold stuff and passed beer when required. I put my girls and all their paraphernalia in the front and we ride around to swimming lessons or yoga or the beach or wherever. It gets a lot of looks and comments, but I know of at least three others in town now.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
Cycle along the water. Think, solve problems, design. Go for a walk at lunch down to the beach or up The Hill, depending on the weather or my mood. More thinking and solving problems and designing. Cycle home.
Broken Windows, 2012, Michael Newton
What is your most valuable pearl of wisdom gained since starting your business?
Never sacrifice style for practicality*
*subject to revision at any time
Where do you derive creative inspiration?
All over the place – starting showbag has taught me to be more observant. Bookstores, magazines, newspapers, museums, forgotten cupboards are all good places to start. My daughters produce an endless stream of stories and pictures that are nearly always inspiring and/or hilarious (to me anyway). Riding around you also get to see backstreets and hidden places you don’t see in a car, and the slower pace lets you take it all in and gives you time to think and put it all together.
On The Corner, 2012, Michel Newton
Which other designers, artists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
Pat Grant – Blue. I got this book for Christmas.
What are some of your favourite websites or blogs?
Tumblr. All of it.
Rook Takes Bishop, 2012, Michael Newton
Apart from your work, what other interests, passions, hobbies do you have?
Billycarts and cycling and I’ve just started playing bike polo.
How long have you been a Novocastrian?
Newcastle in a word?
Depends on How You Look at It, 2012, Michael Newton
What do you love and hate about living in Newcastle?
It can be little.
How is Newcastle different to anywhere else?
It has some awesome natural attractions, all quite close together. You can get awesome things done if you can find some like-minded people. It’s brighter here.
The Creek At Night, 2012, Michael Newton
Where are your favourite places in Newcastle / Hunter to:
Caffestry (14 Pacific Street, Newcastle). And it also has the best coffee and friendliest staff, bar none.
My dad’s shed
Coles, Waratah Village. And Kmart is right next door – open 24 hours!
Lambton Swimmin Centre (there is no ‘g’) and we nearly always stop at the newly refurbished Islington Park
Cycling along Throsby Creek and Honeysuckle. I especially like it in winter when it’s dark and raining because then I get it all to myself.
What is Newcastle / Hunter’s best-kept secret?
ARTCART at Newcastle Art Gallery, weekends 10.30am–12.30pm.
The Dinosaur That Crosses The River, 2012, Michael Newton