Even after graduating a lot of design students don’t feel well-prepared for working in the industry. So you started THE DESIGN KIDS. What is the idea behind TDK and how did everything start?

TDK provides industry knowledge, exposure and opportunities to students and graduates in the communication design community in Australia and New Zealand, with a focus on illustration, typography and graphic design. We spend 9 months a year on the road spreading the love, doing talks at universities, running exhibitions, facilitating workshops and design meet-ups. Basically all the fun stuff - with a growing community of 33,000!

And how everything started? So, I was always obsessed with design, from my first Graphic Design class at fourteen onwards, I was hooked! I love problem solving and creativity, and was good at maths and art so I guess its just a combination of that. I had eight design jobs in the industry (the last being a designer at Frost* in Sydney, under the guidance of Vince Frost) before deciding I wanted to do my own thing, and I've had many jobs more since, supporting TDK and learning through working with others. I'm personally really interested in entrepreneurism, ideas, thinking and lifestyle design. I guess if you throw all that into the oven, The Design Kids model comes out - a cross between design, travel and people.

TDK actually started as a shop where students could sell design posters, tote bags etc and we slowly evolved doing more exhibitions and workshops into just bridging that gap when you graduate. The shop was extremely painful - we tried different combinations of you-make-it-i'll-mail-it, i'll-make-it-i'll-mail-it or you-make-it-you-mail-it, and it just boiled down to students are unreliable and when its your brand on the line, its not good. When the exhibitions were making more of an impact (graduates getting internships, jobs, contacts) we moved away from the shop to focus our energy on that. We now run 12 initiatives online and off line to help bridge that gap.

the interview in full- length will be published
in a book after our journey.
stay tuned – #thewalzhappens


we met frankie at #TDKtuesdays in melbourne. it’s a great opportunity to get to know other design students, graduates or people from the industry. we had a beer with her, were chatting about TDK, THE WALZ HAPPENS and our love to be on the road.

frankie ratford is a designer, lecturer, curator, facilitator, roadtripper based in australia. she is the director of The Design Kids, and worked with Creative Mornings, Supergraph, Frost*, TRACTOR, Apple, Semi Permanent, Herschel Supply Co, just to mention a few…



date: april, 2015
city: melbourne
interview with: frankie ratford

"Design is a subject you should only study if you LOVE it!"


TDK previously run design roadtrips in Australia, but for NZ they skipped the van idea and went straight to a Kiwi tradition – hitch-hiking from Auckland all the way to Christchurch and everything in between! They launched an Instagram typography competition for designers to create their hitchhiking signs over the 10 weeks, with over 500 entries globally, with an exhibition of the final 27 destinations in Auckland at the end of their trip.

Their brand new New Zealand site has just launched: and there's a funny video on there of the trip: watch the video

all images are from The Design Kids.