Sebastian is a pretty fascinating guy. He’s also hard to categorise. When I asked him to describe what he does, his eyes zipped around looking for words.
“I don’t really have one role, I’m quite broad across the board. It’s all based around the making of, designing of, things for productions. And then there’s spin offs from there. You can’t put me in a box.”
Sebastian Barkoczy is a fast talking, fast mover of many trades who, a mere 5 years ago, was still jumping from one hospo job to the next looking for his “thing”. Now it’s a different story. Like many people in creative industries, Sebastian is juggling several projects on the go.
From designing sets and props for feature films like this epic one:
To creating DIY art projects for Channel 7two’s Get Arty.
And it all started at Vivid festival with an interactive installation piece that became the feature for that year!
I wanted to talk to Sebastian about how on earth he got to where he is and what it’s like to freelance across so many different jobs.
When Sebastian finished high school he was still unsure of what to do next. “I didn’t have any real direction beyond school. I did super generalist subjects, like the Science, English and Maths.” After school, he took up labouring to pay for his travels for the next few years.
After 3 years of travelling the world he returned to find himself in a managerial position at a retail store in a suburban Sydney shopping mall. Miserable and frustrated by what he describes as the “going nowhere” feeling, there came a tipping point and he had to figure out what’s next.
“I was always good with my hands, I love to make things and build things.” He enrolled in a Certificate IV in Fundamentals of Design at TAFE. The course gave him an idea of all types of design. He then dabbled in interior design, which he discovered was not his jam. Finally, he landed upon Advanced Diploma of Design for Live Production Theatre and Events at Enmore TAFE. This was when Sebastian’s appetite for all things creative went off the charts.
“I worked really hard, and poured so much time into this course. But it was easy to; I loved the tasks and creativity of [it].”
Before Sebastian even finished his course he was getting asked to do jobs.
“I said yes to a lot of things. Even if I didn’t know how to do it, I would always give it a shot and try to learn as much as I could in the process. Over time, you develop skills, a repertoire and a reputation of someone who works hard and can do a bunch of different things.” This included set design for films.
“Like designing for Alien, I had never sculpted before, I taught myself and we did a good job, but if you think about it, art departments don’t need just one expert sculptor, they’ll need someone who can build and create with various materials, and has experience in various mediums.”
At this point I stopped him to ask how he ended up on a film with a budget of $150 million to make things, which he had no experience of making before.
“I was working about 80 hrs a week so you also learn on the job. You can learn anything. Seriously, look it up, YouTube has tutorials on EVERYTHING. Give it a go – you might just figure it out in the process. I think that also helps build your confidence to get onto the next thing.”
It’s clear Sebastian’s work in art, production and presenting requires him to harness various skills like creativity, problem solving and project management. I asked what he thought was the common thread between all the work he’s done so far.
“In terms of those soft skills, I think its communication and networking. The people you work with will be the people who refer you to others. So how you work with people, how well you communicate in collaborative environments and also the final product is important too. That will get you your next job.”
I asked Sebastian what’s next for now and for the future? He said he has no idea. “I see no point in marking my trajectory for the next 4 years, when really 4 years ago, I never expected to be doing what I’m doing today. I usually just see what comes at the time, send feelers out and leap into the next project.”
He finishes with some advice for others who want to do something like him. “Try things, learn, say yes and work hard at it. Your work product is measured just as much as your attitude to your work.” I couldn’t agree with him more.
FYA partnered with the Federal Department of Education and Training to highlight the real stories behind young Australians navigating the world of work, especially those taking up VET pathways. The How I Got The Job series shows just some of the many different options out there.