“If it’s your passion and it’s something you believe in and want to do, I feel like putting in 100% plus that extra 10% … that’s what’s going to separate you from everyone else.”

This is going to seem a tad random, but the first cool thing I noticed about Nathan Jay was that he wasn’t playing on his phone when I arrived at the café for our arranged interview. Not that there’s anything wrong with occupying free time scrolling Insta, but it’s rare and refreshing to see someone sitting alone in a café and looking around at the décor and people. Think about it.

Nathan Jay grew up predominantly in Western Australia and made the big leap to our humble city after high school. Based at Nelson Bay, he runs a part-time freelance graphic design business under his own name and has big plans for the future. He’s currently got a few regular local clients and was recently involved in designing body board decals for the Free West Papua movement, which is a peaceful organisation aiming to raise awareness and free the country from Indonesian occupation.

Harnessing his passion for creativity and design, spawned from a love of art back in his school days, Nate is hitting the ground running with his freelance design business, even if that means hours completing projects at 3am. “If it’s your passion and it’s something you believe in and want to do, I feel like putting in 100% plus that extra 10% … that’s what’s going to separate you from everyone else.” In his own words, 2016 is going to be a “big year” for Nathan Jay.


Take me back to the beginning

At school, I was always doing art, and it was just a class everyone takes because they don’t want to do maths. But I was really into it from a young age. I just jumped into it and realised that one day I could turn it into a creative career. I was also good at science and people were pushing me towards that, because it supposedly makes you money. When I finished school I did a Cert 4 at TAFE in graphic design and then instead of going to Uni I decided to get industry experience. So I did an internship in Sydney at Hello Social, and then worked for two years at Futura in Newcastle.

Do you have regular clients?

My biggest client at the moment is Slice Golf on King St; I do their brochures and marketing materials. They’re expanding in Queensland so I recently did a big 5-metre sign for them and a bit of wall art. I’m close friends with Dan, who is one of the partners in Slice Golf. It’s all about who you know. I met Dan through Totem and saw his work and suggested we do a collaboration.

Sounds like the beginning of a cool relationship…

Yeah, he’s really involved in a movement called Free West Papua. He got me as a designer, a guy in QLD who does decals for surfboards, himself as a pro bodyboarder, and a few others together, and we basically designed … to bring people’s awareness to what’s going on over there. It’s not really advertised. So there’s a bodyboard out there with my design on it, which is pretty cool. It’s been pretty rewarding to apply my skills into something that’s helpful, instead of just looking good.

Is the plan to work full time in your business?

Eventually but it’s pretty up and down at the moment. There are slow months. One minute it’s pouring in and I’m struggling to find the time to get everything done, and then the next month there’s nothing and you have to sit back and figure out what to do. It’s getting close to full time though… I just to want to make sure it’s sustainable before I make the leap. I’ve got short term and long term goals I want to achieve. 2016 is going to be a big year.

His perfect client? A band for album artwork and posters. So if you’re Newie-based, musical and looking for a designer, get in touch at


When she’s not interviewing cool people about cool shit, Amy is doing other writing stuff. Words are her jam.

Need a copywriter, editor or proofreader?

Get in touch at