Multidisciplinary maker and Sydney-sider Jeff McCann creates treasure from other’s trash through a wide range of mediums including sculpture, fashion, installation, public art and performance. I first met Jeff and discovered his wonder at the Australian Design Centre market and got hooked on his phenomenal, upcycled cardboard earrings – see below for their tres chic and grande size! After delving a little deeper I discovered his talent really does have no bounds, including workshops, which you really should look into! But it is his cardboard couture and chic knack with waste from the street and Reverse Garbage (Sydney’s Mecca for creative reuse) that really got my attention, not to mention his contagious enthusiasm for life in general. Jeff McCann is literally making a revolution! What we need in life is more eco-warriors like Jeff on the creative scene. King of Cardboard. X
What matters most?
Having fun! I can be a bit of a stress head and over think things. So I always try to focus on just having fun whilst creating. I want my audience to smile when they see my work. My goal is for my work to be fun and approachable.
What do you do and why do you do it?
I am an art director, design and maker who works between the visual and performing arts through a wide range of mediums including sculpture, fashion, installation, public art and performance. I work primarily with materials that have been discarded as rubbish, in particular cardboard. I find myself straddling the art/design/fashion/craft worlds because cardboard has the flexibility to be transformed in so many different ways.
I’m super excited about your work upcycling cardboard into jewellery, sets, costumes… the list goes on. How did this come about?
It started at in my second year of university when I was designing a set for a theatre show. Basically I was poor and had no budget. This is when I got the cardboard bug and it’s now been 8 years.
Following you on Instagram.. your life has been a whirlwind of activity and projects this last year. What’s been your favourite project to date?
I love the fact that I never have the same week twice. The projects can vary so much. They all have their perks but I really loved having my work used for Spilt Milk Music Festivals branding last year. Seeing my work use for the main stage, marketing videos, decorations etc. was pretty surreal. I also got to do some work back stage with the musicians which was super fun too.
Who gave you your first break?/ How did you start out?
After university I remained in Wagga Wagga for another 2 years to work out who I was creatively. That’s when I became ‘the cardboard guy’. I built up my resume and then moved to Sydney. My university lecturer to this day is still a massive supporter and has provided me with lots of opportunities to help grow my career.
I’ve been in Sydney for 5 years and working with groups like Art Pharmacy, The Tribe and Spunky Bruiser have all helped me push myself to the next level.
You live in Sydney. What are your five favourite places to see, eat, retreat, meet or just be?
To be honest I don’t get out much, I’m a bit of a hermit. When ever I can I love to go sit in a park (I’m lucky enough to live near Jubilee Park) or somewhere, anywhere where there is nature. I’m not a coffee drinker so cafe culture isn’t really apart of my life. Give me a juice and a nice patch of grass and I’m happy.
Real life hero? Who inspired you on this creative path?
I get inspiration from all over. Local friends and collaborators Spunky Bruiser, musicians like Kimbra and Bjork, drag queens, Gypsy Sport, Romance Was Born.
How do you work through rough spots, anxiety or blockages in your creative practice?
It can be really hard, especially as it’s just me working out of my bedroom. But I’ve learn that when it gets to a rough stage, I make sure I’m exercise, eat well, and take time for fresh air.
What has your practice taught you?
That things take time. You can set goal and timelines for projects but life can happen. So be patient.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future? What’s next?
I want to start creating music videos and working with more drag queens. I’m in the process of developing my first cardboard clothing collection too.
Fruit Smoothie 🙂
Food from the gods?
I looooove lychees.
Reality tv. I love Survivor, Great Australian Bake Off, Geordie Shore. It’s great background noise whilst I’m making stuff.
Early bird or Night owl?
200% a night owl.