Paul Barbera. Photo: Dean McCartney

A personal tour of 10 creative studios

Photographer Paul Barbera’s visual blog and book ‘Where They Create’ gives us a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into some of the world’s creatives studios — from established names to the less well known. Here, Paul takes us through 10 of his favourite artist studios, including those of fellow VCA alumni David Noonan, Dominic Wood, Nicholas Jones and Jebila Wolfe Okongwu.

About Paul Barbera

Paul Barbera was born in Melbourne, Australia. He completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1994. Paul works between Melbourne, Amsterdam and New York, also lived in various locales that include Berlin, Prague, Singapore and Rome.

During this time, Paul established himself as an interiors and lifestyle photographer, working with publications like View on Color, Bloom, Elle Decor, Freudin, Grazia, Vogue Living and Jalouse. Paul has also worked extensively on advertising productions either working closely with his agents or putting together his own creative team for clients like Moorilla, David Jones, Coke, Ikea, and Wolfblass. His work has taken him to places like India, New York, Argentina, Turkey, Brazil, Germany, Italy and Bali to name a few.

In September 2011, the publishers behind Frame / Mark / Elephant Magazine, turned Where They Create, originally a blog, into a book. Below are Paul’s personal favourite studios chosen from Where They Create.

10 Studios, 10 Artists (by Paul Barbera)

Mama Kanoa (Curacao)

‘She paints her dreams, and has no need to show or sell her work. For her, the act of creating is almost therapeutic.’

Mama Kanoa (Curacao), by Paul Barbera
Mama Kanoa (Curacao), by Paul Barbera

Andrzej Nowicki 

‘I love just the home studio–life blends into art into life. It’s just a very sincere little studio, he is doing some really great work.’

Andrzej Nowicki, by Paul Barbera
Andrzej Nowicki, by Paul Barbera

David Noonan (PGDipFineArt, 1992)

‘Only a week before I was at his studio, poor David was broken into, and had his main work computer stolen. I think successful people always keep their cool and composure, and David did. It was very nice of him to still let me shoot, as I am sure he was pretty stressed at the time.’

David Noonan, by Paul Barbera
David Noonan, by Paul Barbera

Dominic Wood VCA (BCA, 1999)

‘My blog is really about people I know or friends of friends. Dominic and I go way back. Dominic is my oldest friend, we met when we were 12 years old. In fact, I started Where They Create at 16 when I photographed his family and studio (Dominic’s dad and mum are also a painters). I can’t wait to photograph him again for WTC.’

Dominic Wood, by Paul Barbera
Dominic Wood, by Paul Barbera

Jebila Wolfe Okongwu (PGDipFineArt, 1998)

Similar to Dominic, Jeb and I are friends from the VCA. I stay with Jeb in Rome when I’m there, that’s why there are three entries on the blog for him, it’s for every year that I go visit him. I love seeing his work progress.’

Jebila Wolfe Okongwu, by Paul Barbera
Jebila Wolfe Okongwu, by Paul Barbera

Julie Verhoeven

‘Originally a fashion designer, Julie’s design illustrations were so good that she started doing it for a living. She now illustrates for all the big fashion magazines around the world. I would be surprised if people hadn’t seen her work before, as she has done so much over the years. You’ve probably seen it without realising it was her work.’

Julie Verhoeven, by Paul Barbera
Julie Verhoeven, by Paul Barbera

Nicholas Jones (BFineArt, 1997) 

‘I know Nicholas from the VCA, and have always loved his work. It was such an honour to shoot his studio.’

Nicholas Jones, by Paul Barbera
Nicholas Jones, by Paul Barbera

Olaf Breuning

‘I think he has a unique voice, and an original perspective.’

Olaf Breuning, by Paul Barbera
Olaf Breuning, by Paul Barbera

Studio TooGood

‘She was originally an art director for World of Interiors, and then she moved into design. Her work is so expansive, from a simple chair, (which has become an icon) to fully immersive analog installations. Some of her objects are sold at Phillips De Pury auction house.’

Studio TooGood, by Paul Barbera
Studio TooGood, by Paul Barbera

Photos courtesy of Paul Barbera.

A version of this article originally appeared on Channel, the Faculty’s previous publishing platform.