Welcome to TRACQS’ Custom Culture studio – a place where participants take their artistic endeavours and apply them to real-life job prospects.

The studio began as a humble art and photography activity for TRACQS’ Community Development Program (CDP), providing a place for Kuranda locals to explore their creativity without managing the financial burden of artistry on their own.

What evolved was a place where participants could learn new skills in painting, signwriting, and graphic design.

Under the guidance and leadership of Dan Nicholls, participants now regularly practice graphic design, custom painting, airbrushing, pinstriping, signwriting, vinyl printing, shirt printing, 3D printing and more.

For Dan, a highlight is seeing a shift in the way participants think of the creative process in relation to work.

“Participants often begin the activity unsure of what they are going to do.

“By exploring the activities and processes, they gain an understanding of what they want to learn and how that might transfer to a job.

“From there, we can focus on skills to get them where they want to be,” Dan said.

For many participants, the process begins with discussing their interests and observations of how certain artistic processes work.

Many do not know how the niche skills can be applied to real-world contexts that can lead to employment, but under Dan’s tutelage, they often become experts in their own right, ready to take on a career in their chosen art.

And while Custom Culture was formed to develop artistic and practical skills, it also kept participants with injuries, disabilities, and those undertaking rehabilitation in mind.

The studio’s location was chosen mindfully, offering access to any person with an impairment or injury.

Tables and chairs are fully adjustable to ensure all users can access the equipment without hindrance or limitations. Air conditioning and bathroom access are wheelchair accessible, as is the kitchen area.

The studio has already seen the benefits of this. The studio was honoured to have Katie (Kayden) attending and producing some great pieces until recently. Being a partial amputee of the left arm, Katie showed her desire and determination with another participant’s help by designing items and creating 3D printing prosthetics.

From a community standpoint, the studio is benefiting no less than five volunteers hoping to learn new skills that they can use to either gain employment in an area that their general injuries can handle or to become self-employed.

Many volunteers use the studio as a place of healing – a place to connect and be in the company of others – working on themselves and focusing on self-development.

The studio is additionally working on a school holiday program where children make t-shirts and other creative items for the community.

Other organisations are also involved with the studio – the Kuranda Tourism Information Centre, the Kuranda Arts Co-Op, Justice Leagues Football Groups, Elderly Women’s and Men’s Groups. Many participate as part of personal and physical rehabilitation; many hope to learn new skills.

The team at TRACQS is looking forward to seeing the studio develop further and wish Dan and the team all the best with their creative endeavours.

About the Community Development Program (CDP)

TRACQS is bringing local experience and knowledge to deliver the Community Development Program (CDP) proudly supported by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).

CDP is an employment program for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in regional, rural and remote Australia to achieve sustainable employment outcomes by strengthening skills, addressing barriers and contributing to their communities through a range of flexible work-like activities.