GROWING arts and culture on the Gold Coast is a priority for entrepreneur Nic Nichols, who says the city is crying out for an innovation and art hub.
The founder of 40/40 Creative, an agency turning the tables on traditional design, says the city is missing out on opportunities that come from investment in the arts, including defining not only the city's identity but a national identity.
He says the arts humanise and refine a community and give inspiration for people to connect, while possessing economic benefit for the city as a lure for tourism and industry professionals.
"I believe there is huge value for the city when it comes to arts and culture," says Nichols.
"It's a way that we can express the individuality of the city and start creating a brand identity for the Gold Coast.
"I still see a social currency that lacks innovation and is yet to be explored by local creatives and council.
"We should invest more into the arts and culture to help influence ideas and creativity that can in turn help our economy and city."
Nichols aims to establish his own hub encompassing an art gallery, retail precinct and digital agency, and aims to attract creatives from all over the world.
"The ultimate dream would be to create a space where artists and creatives can express their ideas directly to the public," he says.
"This would include a gallery space with our own roster of artists, a large legal wall for public art which is dictated by us and also a boutique store that supports the culture of designers and artists. Add that into the CBD and you've got a 40/40 theme park."
Nichols founded 40/40 Creative in 2012 and has grown from a team of three to have a strong network of artists, designers, illustrators and photographers.
It is also expecting to more than double turnover in FY16, compared to FY15, and has expansion plans in Melbourne, Sydney and Europe.
"When we first came onto the scene, a lot of people were very complacent with their position here on the Gold Coast; everyone was the same, everyone was corporate, everyone was clean and everyone was very sterile in a sense," says Nichols.
"When we came through it is almost like we disrupted that.
"People came to us, and still come to us because we are so different. We have almost created our own customer base and brands are really starting to adopt that personality and edge that we have."
Clients have changed from small startups to multinational companies including Super Retail Group (ASX:SUL), ADCO, Isacol and Sudocream.
The agency is also starting to get enquires from overseas with former American Idol judge Randy Jackson and his signee North Of Nine, an up-and-coming band from Los Angeles, recently reaching out to Nichols and his team.
"We have spent the last two years trying to get our rankings up on Google, so a lot of the time people find us on the internet," says Nichols.
"We have created a website (pictured left) that just ultimately reflects our personality so when people see that they either get scared or really happy. And I think that dictates whether they contact us or not, which is almost like a qualifying system, because we make it very obvious who we are and what we are about."
In addition to digital and design work, 40/40 is responsible for the majority of creative murals and street art found around the Gold Coast.
The agency is commissioned to source artists to work on clients' blank canvases, including community spaces and office walls.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT NICHOLS IN THE GOLD COAST YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR VIDEO:
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