Interview with Tina Waru from Australia

Jiahan Fan | MUSE Creative Awards
Interview with Jiahan Fan from United States
July 20, 2023
Siobhan Costigan | MUSE Photography Awards
Interview with Siobhan Costigan from New Zealand
July 20, 2023

Tina Waru

Tina Waru is the proud founder of the Indigeneous Runway Project in Melbourne and has been creating independent First Nations fashion runway events as a part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival and Melbourne Fashion Weeks both locally and internationally!

Interview with the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards Winner -
Tina Waru

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your creative background.

I am the Founder of the Indigenous Runway Project in Melbourne, Australia, which has gained national and international recognition. Receiving over 8000 expressions of interest and supported over 1800 young Indigenous people. I went on to pioneer the world’s first Indigenous Runway platform for First Nations designers.

For the past twelve years I have created and produced independent First Nations fashion runway events and installations as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival and Melbourne Fashion Weeks in Australia and internationally.

For the past ten years I have written plays, directed, and produced events and music videos. I create immersive experiences that has a strong cultural component to its storytelling. From bringing to life Indigenous Gods in the alleyways of Melbourne, Australia to producing First Nations events for Chiefs on the prairies of Saskatchewan country in the Canadian province.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a creative?
I come from a family of creatives and surrounded by songwriters to artists my entire life. My parents were teachers in our community and had all their children learning from a young age. It came naturally as a creative and I could see things that others couldn’t, all thanks to my parents and their creative knowledge.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

We are a First Nations business dedicated to bringing First Nations global storytelling to life, in a way that fully immerses and engages the audience. For the past 12 years, we created and produced Independent First Nations fashion runways as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival, Melbourne Fashion Week and international markets.

Our company creates and produces experiences and activates spaces for international governments, First Nations festivals and diverse community organisations.

4What does “creativity” mean to you?
Creativity means my mind can explore so many ideas and has the freedom to create these images and stories. Therefore, giving me the ability to crystalize and morph these ideas into something beautiful.
5To you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?
A creative idea is the first part of the process for a creative, it’s that moment when you get excited because you can see the idea start to take form. Creative design on other hand is the end result and the outcome of those decisions, it tells your story.
6Tell us about your creative and/or design process.
My creative and design process always begins with a prayer to my ancestors to help guide me. This centres me and allows me to understand the purpose and goal of a given project. In addition, research, analysis, collaboration and guidance from First Nations Elders are key components.
7What's your favorite part of the creative process and why?
My favourite part is at the conclusion of our project, when we have completed our works and get to witness the joy, the tears of pride and hard work and dedication by all those involved. That’s when we know, we succeeded.
8Describe your creative style and its main characteristics.
My style is somewhat profound, meaning that there are underlying messages in my work and there is always colour.
9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your creativity process?
Absolutely it does. Growing up as a young Indigenous girl that tried her best to assimilate was hard but it gave me the strength and courage to determine my own story and my own ending. Having the privilege to learn and have your cultural traditions and values handed down are the very things that kept me grounded and helped me grow.
10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
It means that all our hard work for the past 12 years were not in vain. It means that every single person’s sweat and tears involved in our projects can be acknowledged and recognized. It means that we can proudly say that it’s not just our families and communities’ bias opinion that our work was great but it is that of the WORLD!! Thank you!
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
This work was special because we challenged ourselves creatively with limited resources. Working with a large collective of First Nations designers and creatives from around the world gathered great synergies. It was even more crucial for us to make the storytelling, even more exceptional. Not only were our audience completely immersed in the experience, so were we! We decided to enter this project into the MUSE Creative Awards.
12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
Limited resources. We find ourselves asking this question a lot, “If this is what we do with limited resources, just imagine what we could do with it!”
13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
It has made the world of difference; we are broadening our scope of works now and receiving phone calls and invitations. Industry is looking at us differently and taking us more seriously. We are no longer considered as a community business but as a creative business and creative professionals.
14What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?
All countries have a uniqueness and ours is in our landscapes, mountains, and rivers etc and the stories that come with it but most importantly in the history of its people.
15Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
More inclusion and diversity and more technology which has now created so much more possibilities in the creatives industries.
16If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Creative Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
As a creative, we find many ways to tell a story. At first, I started small projects then it gradually grew and then it finally reached the level I had dreamed all those years ago. I would say to them “Don’t be afraid to dream BIG!”
17What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?
One of the greatest resources that I would recommend is a Business or Industry Mentor. It is incredible what value you get from them, industry experience, strategic advice and incredible business support.
18Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
In high school I swapped classes with my identical twin sister on April Fool’s Day. She went to my art class and I went to her metal work class. I was stuck with a piece of artwork that my twin had painted pink and purple, and a phone call made to our parents after we yelled out at the end of the lesson “Happy April Fools”.
19Who has inspired you in your life and why?
My Grandfather was my first inspiration. He was a cultural consultant, orator, actor, musician and a traditional healer. He led a life that was dedicated for his people, teaching them our language, culture and traditional practices. He took young people of the streets and took them back to our traditional homelands, transforming them and their lives. My father and mother went on to do the same things, so it was inevitable that I would follow in their footsteps.
20What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
There are many factors to our success, including our crew, our production team, artists and creatives. The key is in having the perseverance and resilience to get through any struggle and challenge and having the greatest determination to succeed not for you, but for your team.

Winning Entry

Global Indigenous Runway - My Spirit, My Country | 2023

My Spirit, My Country is a unique and powerful fashion runway in Melbourne, Australia that featured First Nations ...
(Read more at MUSE Creative Awards)

Tina Waru

Tina Waru is the proud founder of the Indigeneous Runway Project in Melbourne and has been creating independent First Nations fashion runway events as a part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival and Melbourne Fashion Weeks both locally and internationally!

Read more about this interview with Collen Gilligan from the United States, the Gold Winner of the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards.