Laura Tronchi came to Melbourne on a typical working holiday but she soon fell in love with Australia, a place where she was encouraged to explore her creativity.
Even though she had been interested in art all her life, Melbourne Polytechnic’s Diploma of Illustration gave her the skills and connections she needed to turn her interest into a career.
“The teachers were illustrators themselves, which was great. They explained things to you and showed you.”
Laura, who illustrates as Laura Wood, certainly learnt more than she expected when she came to Australia in 2009. The experience of moving to a new country and living in a different culture encouraged her to think about her life’s path.
“All my life I wanted to do something like painting or drawing but I never thought that it could be a profession, so I never did an art course or anything like that.”
At home in Italy she felt that finding a job was just about the money, but in Melbourne she discovered an environment where creative thought and expression were genuinely valued.
“I started to think about things that I would really like to do in my life, and I found that illustration was actually a profession. When you find out something like that and suddenly realise it’s exactly what you have been looking for, you just have to do it.”
A little research online brought Laura to Melbourne Polytechnic’s Diploma of Illustration. “The program looked really good, full of stuff that I wanted to do.”
Laura began the Diploma in 2010 and the course was everything that she had hoped. It gave her grounding in a range of techniques but also allowed her the creative freedom to find her own style.
“Being in a creative environment you’re always pushed to try new things. The great thing about the course was that in the first year you needed to try everything, every possible technique, so in the end you discover things that you never thought you could do or would like to do. They also give you a lot of space and flexibility in your projects.”
The hands-on approach to learning at Melbourne Polytechnic was also a refreshing change.
“The schooling I had done previously was all about books and study and a lot of theory, but in this course you learn by doing things, so it’s not boring. I liked that it was very practical and very visual, and you are doing things all the time.”
She also loved the supportive atmosphere and small classes.
“At Melbourne Polytechnic you have your little class and stay with them for two years and at the end you’re all great friends. The teachers all know your name; they get to know you and follow your work over the two years.”
As well as fostering her creative side, Laura learnt about the business of being an illustrator, including putting together grant applications and different ways to make professional contacts.
Since July 2012, Laura has been represented by the London-based illustration agency Good Illustration Ltd, who contacted her after seeing her work online. Through that connection she is now illustrating for Ladybird Books, a children’s imprint of the Penguin Group.
“Just coming to another country was really life-changing, and now I’ve changed my career completely too. It’s crazy, but it’s so good.”
Diploma of Illustration