Q&A with Graphic Designer Anita Shao

Meet the talented creative behind the label on our first ‘MPavilion Pale Ale’, Melbourne-based graphic designer, Anita Shao—affectionately known as Noodle
A self-proclaimed late bloomer in the graphic design field, after completing her Bachelor of Communication Design at RMIT, Anita landed a gig as a director’s assistant in the advertising industry specialising in treatments for animation production. Like many others, Anita found herself contemplating her career during the pandemic. Feeling unfulfilled in her role and ready for a new challenge, she took the leap into the freelance world.
We recently had the chance to sit down with Anita to discuss all things design and hear about her inspiration for the MPavilion Pale Ale label (which, quite frankly, we love!).

MPavilion: Hi Anita! How did you approach the MPavilion Pale Ale brief? Can you talk us through the process?

Anita: I always research before I start designing anything. I already know what you guys do, you guys are sick! But I researched all(zone)’s MPavilion which is quite triangular and geometric, so I wanted to lean into the structural vibe of it. I also wanted to make sure that it feels summery. I think colour is a great way to represent a feeling and I thought the use of the gradients would facilitate the mood and vibe of summer. I also added 3D elements to give it a futuristic feel. The circles represent the sun and also the community. The gradient adds movement to represent performances and the fluidity and energy of the MPavilion events.

I also had to research what actually goes on a beer label because, fun fact, I actually don’t drink at all. I tried it out when I was 18 or 19 and decided it wasn’t for me. So, it’s funny because I was like, I don’t know anything about beer, let alone alcohol!

MPavilion: Well you have done a great job for someone who has spent very little time with a beer in their hand. In a few words, how would you describe your design style?

Anita: I didn’t know how to answer this one. It’s hard to judge yourself, so I asked my friend who’s also a designer and they came up with lively, adventurous and chic. I think lively’ is a good word because not everything that I do has a lot of punchy colours, it just feels lively.

MPavilion: You work under the alias of ‘Noodle’ and this is a nickname you are affectionately known by – what is the origin story behind Noodle?

Anita: It started between me and my partner Slug. When we started dating we would riff off each other and come up with nicknames or words that sounded cute. And one day they started calling me Noodle and the nickname has stuck. When I was becoming a freelancer I needed a name, I thought going by Anita was boring. I wanted something that was a bit fun, so Noodle!

MPavilion: You started freelancing this year. Why did you make the move, and how is it going for you?

Anita: I was getting really burnt out in my last job doing work that wasn’t my passion. People around me were saying “you’re really good at what you do, you’re really talented” – so my intention of becoming a freelancer was to work on more projects that I actually wanted to work on. And i’m loving it! The first couple of months were a bit spooky for me. I would ask myself, do I have enough contacts and a network of people to sustain myself? There would be periods where I just didn’t receive any work, and then there would be an onslaught.

MPavilion: What kind of projects do you typically work on?

Anita: A lot of my friends are musicians, so I do lots of poster work and print and branding for them. I like to do a lot of print-based work, especially magazines and editorials but it is a dying market. I also do TV work, which takes a lot of time. I feel like the last few months, all I’ve been doing is churning out graphics for upcoming shows!

MPavilion: You mentioned you like doing print-based work. How does it feel to see your work printed on so many beer labels?

Anita: It is very exciting. I’ve never done product packaging design before and I was so stoked that it was print work. Making the beer label was really fun because I like playing around with mock-ups of things, so the fact that this is for real, I was like whoa, definitely want to fit this into my schedule!

MPavilion: Who or what are some of your design influences?

Anita: I follow a lot of people on Instagram. I really love David Brandon Geeting. He’s an art director and photographer from New York. I love how the photos look, his composition is really cool. It’s really a juxtaposition of things. I also really like his very staged lighting, everything looks surreal. Another is an Instagram called Nice, Save That! (@nicesavethat). It’s a collection of graphics that this person has found and shared like little stickers and old-school packaging. I love it! I don’t know who designed the stuff but it is tactile and has a bit of nostalgia to it.

MPavilion: And last, but certainly not least, what does the future hold for Noodle?

Anita: Currently I am living day to day and trying to be present because during COVID I was a little…lost. Ultimately I want to become an art director. I really enjoy conceptualising what the final product will look like and doing research and putting the bigger picture together. Hopefully, I also get more print-based work because I really enjoy that. Seeing my work in real life is cool!

The MPavilion Pale Ale brewed by Tallboy and Moose will be available from the MPavilion Kiosk in the Queen Victoria Gardens from Thursday 8 December 2022 – Thursday 6 April 2023

Wominjeka (Welcome). We acknowledge the people of the Eastern Kulin Nations as the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet. We pay our respects to the land, their ancestors and their elders—past, present and to the future.