Travis de Vries is a Sydney based Gamilaroi creator, his design piece “Abodigital pin” is stocked in Brand X’s Protoshop


Travis’ work spans across a truly impressive range of areas, having a passion for the knowledge of how to create with different things he rebels against the idea that you need to specialise, and believes you can be a jack of all trades and still have mastery within that.


Read our interview with Travis where he discusses his current project that explores the story of a fictional paramilitary Aboriginal group, sculpting bone, dancing with Bangarra and like many of us - missing his mum.




What are you currently working on?
Fear of a Black planet is my current most focused on project, it’s a cross artform collaborative  work centering on a podcast that explores the story of a fictional paramilitary Aboriginal group that are planning to take down the Australian government and impose First Nations sovereignty. It’s told through improvised interviews with fictional characters in the group. 


 Are you part of any other collaborative groups or organisations that are related to your artistic practice?

I’m work collaboratively with my brother for the podcast Broriginals and am about to being releasing the new collaborative show Fear of a Black Planet where I’ll be working with a bunch of amazing artists. 

I also run the non-for-profit First Nations digital content platform Awesome Black which I foster collaborations with other artists for specific digital based projects, one of which is Fear of a Black Planet. 


What is your favourite tool/material/process to use? 

There is something incredibly satisfying about working with bone and carving into bone. I make a lot of adornment and use found bones and feathers from walks I do. After the drought there were so many more bones than normal and so I ended up with a huge pile of animal remains. Working into them is a strange process, cleaning, grinding, carving, polishing, painting. Giving this animal a second life after death as an artwork is like breathing power into something. 


In one word tell us what your art is about.



Can you recall a moment in your career that you fucked up? And what did you learn? 

I can’t really recall one exact moment. I think it’s more I feel I fucked up by pursuing dance as a career, I studied for 4 years in dance, was a performer with Bangarra for 3 years and toured the world with that… but I can’t help feeling like artistically I was wasting my time. I left my fine arts degree to study dance because I was interesting in movement practice as another form for a concept I was exploring and then stayed with dance because dance is all or nothing as a practice and it felt like I should keep with it… when I left dance I never looked back. 


Has Covid changed the way you make art? 

Yes in some respects, I also make for as many platforms as possible but now knowing so much of older audiences have moved to responding to work in the digital I focus on making for that space as much as I can. 


What’s your day job and does it influence your creative practice? 

I’m also currently the Producer for First Nations Programs at the Australian Museum 3 days a week. I work with the curatorial team to put together live events that extend the exhibitions. It’s interesting because often my art practice and comedy speaks to the bureaucratisation of First Nations identity and I draw a lot from the way people interact with me in the professional sphere. I also was an artist in residence at the museum in 2018 so it’s funny that I’m now working there on the other side of things. 


If you could have a month-long residency anywhere in the world where would it be, and what would you do? 

I would love to have an artistic residency at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. I’ve visited there twice and each time I amazed by the artwork they facilitate. Artists were able to ‘take over’ the space in ways that really astounded me and made believe something incredible was possible. Like filling an entire level of the museum with water and poling around it in gondolas. It’s the kind of art that can change someone. Every piece of art I make now is a tribute to my wanting to get to the Palais.


A lot of galleries and cultural institutions are now offering online experiences, do you have any digital offerings related to your practice, or are you considering any? 

I have some of my adornment work made extended into AR works that you can use, they are on my Instagram page. 


What cultural or social activities are you craving right now?

I actually have had trouble concentrating on reading books for about the last year, I used to never stop reading, I always felt like books wouldn’t let me put them down. I recently went to the optometrist and found I needed reading glasses. I just took a week of ‘holidays’ and spent most of the time with my head in a book. It has been a blast. Also my friend just released a new album of atmospheric music and I would love to see him play it live: Lortica is the band name. 


What’s the most memorable show you’ve been to? 

Sleep No More by Punchdrunk theatre, the attention to detail and the audience emersion in their world building was incredible. If I ever get back to New York and it is still on I would go in a heart beat. 


Who in your life inspires you? 

My partner Jade. She is incredible, she is an illustrator and works in art galleries and is an amazing guitarist. She has aa great curatorial eye. We often spend time looking at other people’s artworks and discussing what we love about it and why it makes us feel a certain way. I’m also really inspired by the way she has let me listen to the same 30 folk punk songs over and over again for the last year and hasn’t thrown my speakers out the window. 


Who is the first person you are going to hug when social distancing is removed? 

I would really like to see and hug my mother. She lives in QLD and with the border still closed we haven’t been able to visit each other. I’ve had a really busy 6 months with so many changes and I would love to see her in person.


When was the last time you felt like giving up? And what changed to keep you going

I deal with anxiety and depression and I often feel like giving up completely, I struggle sometimes to keep my head above water. One of the things I do that keeps me going every time I ‘get down’ is to talk about or write about how I am feeling, examine the emotions or lack of emotions that is happening in my body and mind and acknowledge them. Then I can choose either to put them aside or let them inform my decisions. I used to not be able to handle it but over the years I have learnt these coping mechanisms from speaking to mental health professionals and my friends. 


Where can people find out more about you? 

Head to my website or or my Instagram @travishdevries I share a lot of my finished pieces there as well as my process when I can. 


To buy Travis’ Abodigital pin in Brand X’s Protoshop head to