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The master of the marker
by Mornington Peninsula Magazine

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“If you yell ‘Father Marker’ three times quickly, I will appear behind you with a bucket of paint,” said Tyson Savanah, also known by his designer alter ego, Father Marker.

And, would you believe it? It worked, so we snuck in a cheeky conversation. Tyson’s multifaceted with that old marker of his, with expertise in illustration, design, posters, merchandise, logos, icons, kids’ books, sculpting and murals. Tyson made the move from the Peninsula to Melbourne to complete a Bachelor of Industrial Design with honours while working part time as a chef.

From travelling overseas painting murals at hostels in exchange for free accommodation to starting a food truck cooking up South Indian rice and lentil pancakes called dosas, Tyson is definitely a master at many artistic avenues. More recently, you may have marvelled at his chalk street art.

“Tracey-Lea Smith, the arts and culture co-ordinator from the Mornington Peninsula Shire, pitched the idea of some footpath art, which they wanted to be temporary and suggested chalk art for the Rosebud and Mornington locations,” said Tyson. “I couldn’t say no to the opportunity. I decided to focus on the local flora and fauna of our area with a stylistic tip of the cap to Indigenous art.”

The transition from industrial designer to illustrator/designer/sculpture transpired over a trying journey of delving in and out of following his creative dreams versus needing to pay the rent.

“My girlfriend’s dad had just taken over the Boneo Maze and asked if I would be interested in designing lantern sculptures for an exhibition idea he had. I had to learn how to create these particular types of sculptures. Crafting my illustrations into lantern sculptures and displaying them in an exhibition at Boneo Maze was a proud moment. A lot of hard work went into the creation of the 40 or so lanterns, but then to have them installed at the premier light art festivals White Night Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat over two years was amazing.”

Tyson’s also dabbled in sand as a medium with his work at Sand Sculpting Australia. He first began by repairing sand sculptures following rainy days, after being taught by a few of the local sand sculptors. Nowadays, Tyson’s been assisting the elite team yearly. Having picked up the medium easily, in 2019 Tyson was sent to Fiji for a week to create a sculpture on an exclusive deserted island.

“At the ripe old age of 35, I still think I am quite new to art and design, and especially freelancing commercially because I have deviated from the path so many times pursuing different interests of mine. I love creating art and design and nailing briefs from clients. When they are happy, I am happy. Each project adds fuel to the flame and encourages me to create more.”

Tyson became a freelance illustrator in 2017 while juggling a full-time job, newborn twins and the aforementioned sculpture work. He’s even been chipping away at writing and illustrating his own children’s story book based on his daughters and set on the Peninsula. “My daughters are a big inspiration to me and the main reason I took this leap of faith into becoming a full-time artist.”

Take in Tyson’s depth of work on Instagram @father.marker and Facebook via @fathermarker

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