Let their success rub off on you.

Words by

Fashion Journal

James J Robinson is one of the most impressive kids you'll ever meet. Really.

He's a seriously talented filmmaker, photographer and writer. He's co-founder and director of creative collective AEVOE, connecting Melbourne's most talented freelance kids with some the country's top publications. He's exhibited at TEDxSydney. He has worked for some big corporate players. He is friends with pretty much all of Melbourne's next best musos and designers.

And he's only 20.

Welcome to our new series, Young People Doing Cool Things. Over the next little while, Fashion Journal will be introducing you to the young people who are so inspiring, they have led us to evaluate our life choices (Nutella for lunch is no longer considered appropriate). The aim is to spotlight young and exciting new talent, and give you guys the chance to learn from these guns at life. Let their success rub off on you.

First up is James J Robinson.

You started AEVOE while still in high school, what ignited this spark and was it hard to find enough time to dedicate towards it?

I started AEVOE because I saw incredible photo and video content being produced by young artists around around me, even in high school, and no one was really seeing their work because they were either lacking the contacts to get exposure or people would just actively disregard them due to their inexperience and age. I ended up spending more time on AEVOE than I did on my exams in year 12 – it became a way of procrastinating from studying French subjunctive sentence structures but still staying really productive on something I was interested in.

You didn't rely on others for your success, which is super inspiring. Talk us through your decision to go it alone.

I started AEVOE with a friend, but a few weeks into it we realized our idea of what we wanted to get from it was fundamentally different. I’m a bit of a control freak too – I think it’s because I’ve got a really strong work ethic and I don’t like waiting around for other people to do things for me. I kind of live under the mantra that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. There’s obviously a bunch of exceptions to that rule, but in general I’ve depended on too many unreliable people in the past that if there’s any chance I can do something myself, I’ll do it.

Are people surprised at how young you are?

Yeah they tend to be, but I think the moustache has more to do with it than anything career related. When I get professional and down to business I’ll chuck in a B- ) face or two in my emails to let my client know I’m young, or else they might accidentally speak about serious things with me. I’m kidding, but overall I think because of the internet it’s a lot easier to be successful from a young age, so it’s not as jarring when I walk into a room to meet clients I’ve been emailing with.

Why do you favour analogue shooting compared to digital?

Originally that started because I wanted to make my work different from my peers, but over time my preference of shooting everything analogue has become much more technical. I shoot most of my video work on Super 8, and that’s because Super 8 film has a much better dynamic range than digital cameras do, and it encourages me to be conservative with shooting so my editing process is a lot more efficient. With 35mm stills, you’re shooting on a well-sized negative that you can get so much detail out of it – you’re exposing grains, not digital pixels. People complain that it’s expensive, but for the quality you get out of it, it really isn’t. Also on an archival level, it’s amazing to physically have my Super 8 rolls and 35mm negatives – I don’t have to worry as much about constantly backing everything up to three places.

What does the word AEVOE actually mean?

The process of choosing ‘AEVOE’ (ay-vo) was just my friend and I messing around, but really it comes down to how the word looks and sounds. The A and V came from AV (Audio Visual), and we kind of wrapped the hard V consonant with vowels to make it a visually balanced word. From a design perspective too, aevoe is an easy word to work with because none of the letters have ascenders or descenders, giving it a really clean look.

Do your parents continually gush at parties about how successful their son is?

I think they have to get invited to parties first, then we’ll see.

You have such an eclectic range of collaborators, how do you find them?

I spend lots of time on Instagram finding new people I want to work with. It’s always worth sending someone a message and seeing if they’re keen to collaborate in some form. I think it’s a really good idea to establish a symbiotic relationship with other creatives where you can feed off each other’s ideas. Being in Melbourne is amazing because all of my friends around me are making things, one of my best friends is doing these incredible ceramics, another one is making amazing music and more are starting fashion brands and making jewellery. I feel like it’s easy to succeed when you have lots of people to take inspiration from around you.

What has been your proudest moment to date?

Last year I made a very short film with my friend Sky about social prejudices against Indigenous Australians, and it was screened at the Sydney Opera House during TED Talks. For some reason the people at TED decided to censor a part of it which directly blamed the audience for having racial prejudices against Indigenous Australians. It obviously wasn’t meant on a personal level but a societal one, but TED claimed their (primarily white!) audiences were too progressive so didn’t want to point fingers at them. I think my proudest moment is when my friend and I wrote an article in protest against their censorship. I always said I would speak out against injustice, but when something like that actually happened and my reputation was on the line for criticising such a progressive brand, I was unsure whether to say anything for a while. 

What does the future hold for AEVOE?

We made a zine earlier in the year that showed off everyone’s abilities and I got to collaborate with so many artists I’ve wanted to work with, but I felt like none of my photographers individually got much exposure from it. So instead I’m helping some of my photographers make their own photobooks. So far all of the work is absolutely incredible and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. Also now that I’m getting much more confident in myself as a filmmaker I’m going to start producing some short films and things under the brand which will be really exciting.

We want you to show off! Anything else you can share about yourself?

I just finished on working on a whole bunch of Super 8 videos! I filmed 9 rolls all up, so I’ve got all this footage that I did in collaboration with some of my favourite fashion brands and musicians. It’s all slowly going to be released over the next few months, and the editing process is so exciting because I’m so happy with how all the footage has come out. I’m also doing a talk at RMIT next week as part of an industry panel which should be lots of fun.

Any advice for young people looking to make it in creative industries?

My main advice would be to make your work different in some way. It’s worth looking at other people’s work and trying to appropriate elements of it to get an idea of where your strengths lie, but try and differentiate yourself from the crowd in any way you can and that’s when people will start to notice you. Be confident in your taste too.


Leave a comment


On how she hopes to change the world.
Just when you thought you'd heard it all.
From the rawness of heartbreak, to a place of renewed strength.
An ethical collaboration between RMIT grad's Nessie Croft and Gabrielle Leavesley.
On NYC, Panorama Music Festival and Brazillian poetry.
On music, long-distance relationships and supporting local talent.
A glimmering record full of love and heartbreak.
Who knew so much wrong could result in so much right?
A look at the generation of local labels championing local production.
Encouraging people to push boundaries and stand against hate.
Home hangs with Emma and Alice.
We hang at home with the two best friends.
It's called 'Women are the Future', for starters.
Exploring the Fashion and Textiles collection.
Satisfy your inner bohème.
No fashion week should be without a good hair director.
Talkin nail polish, EPs and the possibility of a Killing Heidi Reunion.
A little West Coast act doing big things.
Inspired by the not-so-nice stuff about being a woman.
It's really nice to know Limb.
The most un-Melbourne thing to ever happen to Melbourne.
Because your furry friends should be able to dine out too.
Still blowing dirt out of our nose.
We love coffee but we don't always like you.
Meet the label prioritising social responsibility.
Celebrating bigger and better than ever.
The beauty of imperfection.
And other handy job application tips.
An in-depth look at the woman behind the label.
Gold, sliver, crystal and stone.
The best week of Melbourne's music year is on the horizon.
Shining some well-deserved light on Melbourne's best retailers.
We get to know one of Melbourne's busiest musicians.
The essence of spring.
Horn-rimmed glasses and leather shoes.
Styled like a celeb.
Ft. Pleats Please and Bao Bao Issey Miyake AW15.
A new cool kid on the virtual fashion-block.
Reminding you that spring is on its way.
What it’s really like growing up in a cosmetics empire.
Upgrade your winter wardrobe.
Time to meet the make-up king.
Talking M&M’s in ice-cream and Skittles in vodka.
Textured accessories for leather handbag lovers.
Dainty and delicate goodness.
Inspired by the suds and star-studded ceiling of a Turkish Bathhouse.
Shopping for baby and mama.
Linen and denim, need we say more?
Talk about an ephemeral love affair.
Fascinated and a little intrigued, we quizzed the duo behind the Spanish label.
Mim and Liv NERVO have taken the world by storm.
Charming. Confident. British. Handsom.
Melbourne's freshest freelance kids.
Melbourne's fun new jewellery label tells us what's up.
Because pun-derpants are the best idea.
G Star Raw launches at Melbourne's Emporium.
Taylor Swift tells ASOS Magazine the life lessons she’s learnt.
Is there anything more 'Melbourne' than a laneway party?
Melbourne's models unite for a beauty story of magnificent proportions.
The time has come for LIFEwithBIRD's Melbourne warehouse sale.
Absence must make the heart grow fonder, as Chet Faker announces an Australian Tour after a year of worldly adventure
There's a new kid on the block.
It's getting hot in hurrrrrrrr.
...but only for a few more days!
Styling is made easy with FME's latest InSideOut summer collection
The eclectic Finders Keepers Market is back in Melbourne for Spring/Summer 2014.
Nostalgia for the ‘80s and an appreciation of Aussie culture— Client Liaison evoke a corporate narrative, to the point where I...
If you’ve spent time on any fashion website during the last five years – which is pretty likely – then you have encountered Julia...
Fans of sculptural silhouettes and minimalism flocked to Melbourne’s Emporium last night for the opening of Dion Lee Site 02.
Fitzroy based minimalists Handsom are spreading their sports-prep wings, expanding their operation to a brand new pop up on...
Champagne flowed, a nail polish collaboration was launched and most importantly, there were donuts.
Kuwaii opened their second store in Melbourne and the people rejoiced.
We need you. Like seriously, send us an email already.
There is one thing that sucks about working at Fashion Journal - you can't enter the giveaways.
Melbourne Spring Fashion Week is a wonderful time of year.
Fashion Journal faves Pet Shop Girls has teamed up with stellar Melbourne label Dress Up for a capsule collection.
Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles!
The Australian Centre of the Moving Image has announced their annual Fashion on Film program as part of Melbourne Spring Fashion...
We hit up Joey and Rob from ELEVEN Australia for some insider tips, nifty tricks and picked their brains on how they made it in...
Melbourne-based label Aura Home is the stuff that homewares dreams are made of.
When you hear the words ‘Swedish folk music’ the first image that jumps to mind is probably men in tiny green overalls yodelling...
Bringing back the days when hanging out was a full-time occupation.
We chatted to Kelis about her line of sauces, the Kelis food truck at SXSW, what she loves most about fashion and of course her...
Forget a backyard jumble sale, The Lover Jumble Sale is one you won't want to miss.
Just like Cinderella, you too shall go to the ball... wearing Rachel Gilbert at up to 70% off.
Melbourne artist Beci Orpin has turned her genius to homewares and we couldn't be more excited.
Ashlea Chong branches out from POC denim to create her own eponymous label.
New label, Skodia, has released a beautiful new lookbook for their maiden collection.
Reminiscent of those 50c lolly necklaces that used to stick to the neck after a couple of stretchy bites, Melbourne based...
Lulamae is all about stepping outside your comfort zone for a whole new you.
Open since 1976, Dakota 501 is as current as ever when it comes to casual style.
Champagne, gift bag and a chance to see Yves Saint Laurent before anyone else.
LA born BANKS has been capturing global attention. We caught up with her to chat songwriting, messages from the universe, and why...
When Melbourne-based label PER-TIM launched last year, they were like the glass of sparkling water after a particularly strong...
In case you needed more reasons to go shopping, TALULAH are having their Melbourne warehouse sale this Saturday.
We chat to Lily Allen ahead of her Australia tour Splendour in the Grass headline appearance
Cheap Monday wants to sell you stuff for cheaps.
Stevie Dance’s story is pretty much a fashion industry fairytale.
Melbourne institution Alpha60 are having a sale! 30% off all their first winter drop.
Desert Designs might just be the most inter­est­ing design col­lab­o­ra­tion going around.