NEWCASTLE IS A CITY FILLED WITH MEN OF MANY NAMES – PLENTY OF MATTS, SEANS, LUKES AND BENS – BUT AFTER YEARS OF STEEL CITY MINGLING, THIS REPORTER HAS FOUND THAT THE REAL PIONEERS, THE NOVOCASTRIAN GLUE HOLDING THE CULTURAL SCENE TOGETHER, ALL SHARE A NAME WITH THE HUMBLE SAINT NICHOLAS. OUR CITY IS BURSTING AT THE SEAMS WITH NICKS, EACH DOING THEIR PART TO MAKE IT A BETTER PLACE. AFTER NOTICING THE COMMON BOND OF PASSION AND AMBITION ATTACHED TO THE NAME, IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE THE MONTHLY NICK CAME INTO FRUITION, AS THERE ARE LIKELY SEVERAL NICKS NEAR YOU, KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE IN THEIR OWN WAY, REGARDLESS OF RECOGNITION OR CELEBRATION. THESE ARE THEIR STORIES.
I had to think very hard to remember when it was I first met the ex-Novacastrian star of screen and typography, Nick McCosker, but what was immediately evident was that it hadn’t happened early enough. His recent relocation to Redfern has somewhat stunted our bromantic adventures through Newcastle’s creative scene, and I can tell my bearded kindred spirit is beginning to miss them as much as I. This month’s Nick has completed a bachelor’s degree in Design at the University of Newcastle, developed many famous digital fonts for the Lost Type Co-Op, become a TV heart throb overnight and landed a job at Medusa Design, Sydney city’s branding agency to the stars. And I’ve witnessed it every step of the way.
I only knew Nick briefly through his University days, mainly as the host of every design-related event the faculty held, before later passing that mantle onto me. Working as a photographer for these events eventually lead to us crossing paths, hitting it off and later working together at shared studio in town. Nick’s work as a freelance designer played a huge part in crafting the identity of local business chain Superstrike Bowling, which is owned and managed by McCosker’s father in law. Throughout the years, Nick has transformed what could be a very cheesy establishment into the classiest looking bowling bar in the Hunter Region, with his signature focus on illustrated patterns and stylised typography shining strong. Perhaps his most important contribution to the Superstrike kingdom is their advertising mascot, Strike Dudley, who has captured the heart of a nation and upset multiple old people in the space of a year.
Dudley, an obnoxious, over-enthusiastic ‘pro-bowler’, began as a costume sketch by Nick, originally intended to be worn by a trained actor. As deadlines grew closer for a run of television advertisements and Youtube webisodes, Nick ended up donning the Dudley jumpsuit himself. The videos – thanks to the twisted sense of humour of GMRX Media – got more and more absurd as Strike Dudley’s popularity grew, and lead to several huge television advertising campaigns, billboards, musical radio advertisements, teenagers putting together D.I.Y Dudley costumes and even a few troubled phonecalls regarding the company’s choice to use such a seedy individual for their campaigns. Nick has since distanced himself from the character personally, assuring anyone who comments on seeing him on television that they were actually seeing Strike Dudley, a different person all together.
Despite the abundance of seedy moustaches and denim vests plastering the walls of each Superstrike alley in the Hunter region, you’ll find a close attention to the typography in each design as a result of Nick’s handiwork. His main passion as a designer has always been typography; be it his hand-painted signage in the Little Nel Café and Newcastle Mall’s Emporium, claiming presidency in his very own Type Club in Newcastle or developing digital fonts for himself, one letterform at a time. Over the past few years the type foundry website Lost Type Co-Op has skyrocketed in popularity with all types of graphic designers, partly owed to the work McCosker put into the font families Carton and Quaver. The latter, developed as a university project between Nick and two mates, has seen a steady success over the past few years and lead to the construction of Carton, a slab serif typeface, and the soon-to-be-released Elkwood, an even slabbier serif typeface. Nick has been planning for the past few months to open a type foundry of his own to distribute fonts made by himself and friends – but not until he’s come up with a good enough name.
Nick’s typographic celebrity status was bound to get him attention, and it was only a matter of time before he was snatched up by branding and identity specialists Medusa Design earlier this year. The Sydney-based agency has seen him work for bands, businesses and restaurants all over the country, and Nick has never been busier since trading his quirky little house in Cook’s Hill for a swanky Redfern apartment with his smoking-hot designer wife. Having originated in Nelson Bay, moved to Newcastle to study, travelled the world on his Lost Type earnings and finally settling in Sydney, Nick has seen creative communities of all shapes and sizes ¬– but to him, Newcastle will always feel like home.
“Because Newy is a smaller city, I get the feeling it’s a more connected scene,” Nick explained, “Because of its small town attitude, I feel like people [from Newcastle] are less intimidated to have a go at something new, and are more likely to communicate with one another.”
Despite his current location, Nick often gets involved with art events in Newcastle (he even recently appeared in the BADDIES collaboration piece in July’s Super show at Curve Gallery) and will continue to do so in the future. His moustachioed alter ego is currently featuring on television screens region-wide during peak advertising hours, and can be heard meekly attempting a Mexican accent in NXFM radio spots every once in a blue moon. You can find a selection of his graphic design work on his portfolio website – nickmacdesign.com – and his new type foundry will certainly be one to look out for… As soon as it has a freaking name!