About Mimmo Cozzolino

I spent the first 12 years of my life growing up in Italy until my Dad decided to emigrate to Australia. I arrived in Melbourne in 1961 with my family to a new beginning.

In 2001, after an eclectic career as a graphic designer I decided I needed a seachange and a chance to pursue my passion for art photography. In 2003 I exhibited Flush: 1990-2003 a series of high resolution scans of found objects. In that year I also won the Leica/CCP Documentary Photography Award with the series Arcadia del Sud.

In 2005 I exhibited Sub-Urban Shadow-Plays a series of photomedia tableaux portraits I constructed with my sitters. Around this time I also started making short videos based on simple music boxes and animated toys.

The flatbed scanner has always fascinated me as a recording tool. Some years ago I started using the scanner in the same way one uses a view camera, upright, and sitting my subjects about 50 cm to 120 cm away. I found the results Scams are intriguing and in 2007 I began a series of portraits using the scanner. This is work in progress.

My interest in photography goes back to the mid 1960s when, as a teenager, I first started taking snaps with my Dad's Voigtländer 35 mm viewfinder camera. The archive of pictures I took in those times and later has been a rich source of material for research. I am using it, amongst other things, to complete an MFA on "photography, autobiography and archives.

After I trained as a graphic designer in 1971, I found my first job in Sydney. I missed my friends so I returned to Melbourne where I started a freelance studio with my best mate and Greek èmigrè, Con Aslanis. We were two "wogs" looking for an identity. We called the studio "All Australian Graphics".

Inherent in the studio's name was the tongue-in-cheek proposition: can migrants create design content that is All Australian, and, in turn, what is Australian design anyway? In the Australia of the early 1970s these were rather oddball (if not philosophical) questions that not many designers were asking. As migrants we needed to ask them to help define ourselves. Commercially it differentiated our studio from all the others in Melbourne at the time and helped us get interesting work.

I spent 1974 travelling overland to London. An eye-opener for an emerging designer.

In 1975 we renamed our studio "All Australian Graffiti" and added more partners. Amongst the thousands of illustrations we produced for our publishing and advertising clients we also created the irreverent Kevin Pappas Tear Out Postcard Book (Penguin, 1977). With the help of Penguin's publicity machine our book made it to national television, radio, print and the bestsellers list for 1977.

When AAG disbanded in 1978, I took a sabbatical from freelancing to complete the research for Symbols of Australia (Penguin, 1980), the first book to trace the history of Australian trademarks. "Symbols" has become a valuable reference book and has sold over 40,000 copies. You can buy a copy here.

One of the legacies of "Symbols" is an esoteric photo-library of ad ephemera, packaging, signage and publications relating to Australian commercial art/design history. I have been gradually expanding this resource so that ready-to-use digital images are now available for sale. If you're looking for something that I haven't got, it's more than likely that I'll know someone who will have it.

The section on Design of this site is primarily a resource for students researching All Australian Graffiti and/or Symbols of Australia. In my role as a sessional teacher of design at tertiary level (I first started teaching in 1973) I became conscious early on that the rich Australian commercial art/design heritage was being ignored by design educators. It has been a hobby horse of mine to encourage research into this field. I believe that we need to train young designers to not only make eloquent marks but to speak eloquently about their mark-making. Critical awareness of tradition helps to build this eloquence. I am encouraged by the progress I have seen in recent times. If you have completed some original, unpublished research into the field of Australian commercial art/design/biography I'd be most interested to hear from you.