Staff Reporters
Aug 17, 2023

Creative Minds: Dave Rhodes' love affair with texture and nostalgia

A dash of wit, a splash of colour—the MediaMonks design director talks about his tryst with charity work, eggsquisite passions, and drawing creative influences from odd places.

Creative Minds: Dave Rhodes' love affair with texture and nostalgia
In Creative Minds, we ask APAC creatives a long list of questions, from serious to silly, and ask them to pick 11 to answer. (Why 11? Just because.) Want to be featured?

Name: Dave Rhodes

Origin: Melbourne, Australia

Places lived/ worked: Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore

Pronouns:  He/him


APAC design director, Media Monks 2020 – Current
Design director, Freelance 2020 – 2021
Design director, RGA 2018 – 2020
Senior designer, Shift Partners 2016 – 2018
Senior designer, Equus Design 2015 – 2016
Designer, Wingrove Design 2010 – 2015

1. How did you end up being a creative?

Growing up as a kid, I vividly remember watching "the making of Toy Story" and was enchanted with the art and the process of bringing Buzz and Woody to life. I found it thrilling, more so than the movie itself. The idea that emotion, humour could be crafted stuck with me. As someone who performed average at best through school, I knew that I wanted to do something creative, but never really understood it. Like many people, I fell into design. I ended up doing an arts course that taught a bit of everything from film, animation to creative writing. One of the subjects was multimedia communications where it fundamentally shaped my appreciation for graphic design and typography. This set me up to be on the creative path.

2. What's your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?

There’s so many to choose from. But one of my more meaningful pieces of work was an exhibition called ‘ANZAC Voices.’ It was about the reality of war and celebrated the stories of Australians through their letters and diaries. Personally, it gave me a much deeper appreciation for the men and women who sacrificed their lives for the nation. And I saw it as an opportunity to contribute to something that played a part in Australian history. The exhibition was opened by Julia Gillard—Australian prime minister at the time. And coincided with the World War I centenary commemorations.

3. What's your favourite piece of work created by someone else?

In 2009, Christopher Doyle created identity guidelines for himself. Poking fun of all the formalities that the usual brand guidelines, from color, clear space through to wayfinding. Love the use of dry humor and wit. An ingenious piece of work.

4. What and who are your key creative influences?

For one, friends and family. For me inspiration comes in all types of odd places. When I'm away from the screen and not thinking about the client an idea or a solution will drop. Travel definitely helps, getting away from the daily grind. Seeking out new experiences and exploring the unknown. It exposes you to the unfamiliar—sounds, tastes and scenery. It changes your perspective on culture and a humbling experience.

5. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.

During the university holidays, I thought it would be a great idea to do door-to-door charity work. The endless rejections, the strain of approaching strangers, and annoyed faces. There are much better ways to contribute to a cause without all the door-slamming.

6. What's the last song/artist you listened to?

‘Not That Nice’ by Speed. An incredible hardcore band from Sydney that packs a punch. Relentless energy, aggressive vocals, and heavy guitar riffs, it delivers an adrenaline rush.

7. What food can you not live without? What food would you be happy to never taste again?

Eggs, the hero of breakfast, hold a special place. They are a little basic, but very versatile. Scrambled, fried, poached and tamagoyaki! Beyond their universal appeal they’re a huge source of nutrition and protein. Durian. Tried it one time and only once. The stench just lingers around, and it could bring the toughest soul to their knees. Taste wise? Imagine a blend of sweaty gym socks and rotting onions. I once mistook the smell of durian for a gas leak!

8. What app could you absolutely not live without?

I cannot live without Google maps. I suffer from a bad sense of direction and my knack for getting lost remains unmatched. So, yes Google maps helps me cope.

9. What app do you wish you could delete?

I wish to delete Threads. There was a clear lack of purpose when it launched, with no real incentive for people other than your friends from Instagram signing up. As a content platform, it doesn’t offer anything new. Do we really need another app that is a clone of Twitter? (Full disclosure: Tried it for 3 days, then deleted it)

10. Do you have a catchphrase?

I’ve always loved the phrase by Abraham Maslow— “If you all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” The thought that not always a new campaign, a website or NFT may not be the appropriate solution. It’s about listening, understanding what clients need, what their goals are. Consider where they are and then find the best solution to get them there.

11. Analog or digital?

Analog all the way. It is hypocritical as I spend most of the time online—either talking to the screen on calls or looking at my phone. But analog possesses a warmth and depth that digital can't replicate. Texture, touch, the smell. It offers tangible and nostalgic connections you can’t experience with digital.

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