Ink & Elbow Grease Co. | Endeavor Together Collection | Luna & Friends

Thanks for joining us for an extra special interview as part of our "Luna & Friends" series - where we put the spotlight on some of our favorite artists, makers and businesses and get to know them a little better. Today, we're thrilled to kick things off by introducing our good friend Kal Greasley, the extraordinary designer and illustrator of Ink & Elbow Grease Co. and the artist behind our brand new "Endeavor Together" collection.

Hey Kal! We're so excited to have you. Could you begin by telling us a little bit about yourself and your brand?

Hey guys! My name's Kal, I'm a Graphic Designer & Illustrator from Melbourne, Australia and I run a little studio and soon to be shop called Ink & Elbow Grease Co. The name stems from my pen & ink design approach combined with the hard work or "elbow grease" that goes into each piece. My surname is also Greasley so that definitely contributed to the idea haha.

That's awesome, we're stoked for the shop to open! How did you get your start in design?

I was always the kid at school who could draw, like every time someone needed a picture they'd ask me. This progressed through a visual communication class in highschool where my teachers introduced me to graphic design and advertising. I was obsessed with skateboarding at the time so the majority of my projects consisted of creating made up logos for skate companies. Fast forward through a 2 year graphic design course and I got my first job creating magazine ads for a department store through the ad agency Ogilvy. It definitely wasn't the most visually motivating job but it was a foot in the door. Moving up the ranks in such a big agency seemed difficult so just over a year later when an opportunity came up for a mid-level designer at a smaller ad agency I jumped at it. This job was great, it had all the things I thought I wanted plus perks. The main accounts were Automotive, Farm Machinery and a Zoo which were great (compared to creating junk mail) and I even got to design the odd logo here and there which (although I didn't realise it at the time) is really where my passion was. 8 years later I had learned so much about the advertising industry and was unknowingly put on the path to become an art director which at the time I thought I wanted, but when there was suddenly a change of management and that opportunity was taken away from me I realised I didn't even know if I wanted it or if it was just the next 'logical step'. At that point I didn't even really know if I even had a passion for design anymore.

It was at this time my girlfriend was considering a move to Canada and I figured why not? I'd just turned 30, my career advancement was on hold and I didn't know if I even wanted to do this job anymore. So we booked our 2 year visas, packed our bags and moved to a ski resort in the Canadian Rockies. It was here, working on a chairlift that I regained my love for illustration. I had a shift on the village gondola (which basically ran itself) where I would just sit all day and draw the landscape around me, animals I'd seen, people I'd met or adventures I wanted to go on. After this seasonal job I realised that I did still love design but I'd just been stuck in the wrong kind of design job for far too long. So with this new outlook and a clear direction for what kind of designer I wanted to be, I started Ink & Elbow Grease and I haven't looked back since.

Wow, that's quite the journey! Where would you say most of your inspiration stems from these days?

I get inspired by the things I see, the places I travel and the space I surround myself in. I've always had a passion for vintage and how things used to be done, I think that's why I like to start all of my work with pencil and paper. Whenever I begin a new branding project I always research where that industry originated and how those brands used to be designed in the 18 and 1900's. From old store signage to vintage packaging and even antique paintings and illustrations all of these items get my creative juices flowing. I think this is why I'd describe my design style as combining the vintage appeal of yesterday into a modern and timeless design today.

You've spent a lot of time traveling the world - tell us what that's been like and about some of your favorite places you've visited!

Haha yes I have! I've done a little bit around Asia and Europe but barely scratched the surface there, most of my extensive travel has actually been across North America. After living there for 2.5 years we were able to see a lot during our 76 day road trip where my girlfriend and I visited 26 states living in the back of a Van. The highlight was most definitely camping the national parks. From Joshua Tree and Yosemite to the grand canyon and then through the five Utah national parks I honestly couldn't pick a favorite. The thing that fascinates me the most in the US is the diverse change of landscape in such a short distance. You could be in Death Valley's desert but somehow still be surrounded by snow capped mountains, it's unbelievable. Canada's the same but the lakes and mountains there are just on another level. We did a lot of hiking over in British Columbia and my favorite had to be the Lake of the Hanging Glacier. Like it's name suggests, you literally hike up a mountain top to a gigantic glacier hanging down into this insanely blue glacier-fed lake, words cannot do it justice. Now that we're back and confined to Australia, we have a lot of exploring we're yet to do here and are also considering New Zealand as well in the near future!

That's awesome! Tell us a little bit about the art in the "Endeavor Together" collection.

So between the Luna Cove ideology of an outdoor, travel and escapist theme I wanted to combine my love of the outdoors and the travels I'd been on with where I go to escape. I immediately connected this with our road trip so I began sketching ideas of being on the road, seeing wildlife camping by an open fire.

What is the significance of the phrase "Endeavor Together" to you?

I've been toying with this phrase for a little while now as a kind of tagline or signoff to my brand but it also works as a lead message as well and I think that's why I like it so much. One of my favourite books/films is Into the Wild and the phrase from Alexander Supertramp was that "happiness is only real when shared" and that really stuck with me. I was especially lucky to travel with my girlfriend Beth to share these incredible experiences and it's that same feeling that I want to convey with my work. I work really collaboratively with my clients and make sure they get as much out of the branding experience as I do, so whether it's the enjoyment or the struggle we endeavor it all together and regardless of the journey (although that's half the fun) sharing that feeling of reaching the destination is what it's all about.

Endeavor Together

The Luna Cove x Ink & Elbow Grease Co. "Endeavor Together" collection is available now. Each and every banner is cut, sewn, washed, painted and packaged entirely by hand by Luna Cove, featuring the hand-drawn art of Kal at Ink & Elbow Grease.