Spread the love


Taree Birse has a wealth of talent and skills that she shares across a variety of fields. With a flourishing Made to Measure service, Taree continues to bring beauty and elegance to that special day, from school formals to weddings, making you look and feel amazing for any event.

Along with her Made to Measure Taree also works with some of Australia’s well known designers, patternmaking and sampling collections. Including Miss Unkon who currently has a capsule collection in Sportsgirl, as well as swimwear label Glamorous Life By Joanne Rahn, Nicki Derrick the Label and Style Your Curves. Taree brings her technical knowledge as well as creative skills to the table when helping these designers produce their envisioned collections. Included in Taree’s accolades is working with an experience team to provide digitized grading and pattern services to clients as well as assisting with overseas manufacturing in the lines of specification sheets.

In 2011 Taree decided to share her diverse and able skills with the coming generation of designers. Now as a trainer at the Academy of Design, teaching the subjects of Product Design & Development and Sewing. Taree thrives with sharing her knowledge and seeing these students learn and develop. With a history of Ready to Wear Collections, Taree has accumulated an array of achievements over the past few years. In 2010 Taree Birse was awarded first place in the Sanctuary Cove ‘Next Best Thing In Fashion’. Also in 2010 Taree Birse showcased her Spring Summer 2010/11 Collection at the Mercedes Benz Brisbane Fashion Festival. Immediately following MBFF Taree Birse exhibited this same collection at Melbourne Fashion Exposed.

Recently Taree made a selfless decision to let go of her Ready to Wear Collections so she could focus her time on her growing personal clients and to devote her time to her students at the Academy. This is where Taree finds the most joy and satisfaction, in helping others achieve their dreams.

Taree is also involved in designing and creating curriculum as part of overall compliance at the Academy.


Gustavo Yoshida comes to the Academy of Design with rare and extensive experience in International Educational delivery in the Creative Arts. From humble beginnings in his early years acquiring the versatile Bachelor in Business Management in Brazil, to realising his true passion and talent for Instruction and Curriculum Delivery by gaining his double formal qualifications in Education with a Bachelor Degree in Education and at the same time completing his Bachelor Degree in Creative Design. Gus realises his love for teaching whilst enjoying 7 years of involved and intensive delivery of Graphic Arts to Engineering students at University, confirming his dedication and commitment to Education.

After extensive stints living and working in Japan and Brazil, Gustavo settles on the Gold Coast to pursue his dreams in Creative Education, choosing the Academy of a Design to showcase his vast talent. Gus continues to work as one of Queenslands most respected freelance photographers citing his catch phrase ‘it’s not about the camera’ – focusing on his obsession with raw talent, his dedication to the craft itself.

Specialising in subjects such as Photo-journalism, Sports Photography, Wedding Photography and Photography Theory whilst branching across into Graphic Design delivery as well, Gus’s respected experience in Education is synonymous with the mission of the Academy of Design, it’s commitment to quality and it’s dedication to graduating well rounded and technically sound photographers into the market place.


BHSc ADNat, ADNut, ADWHM Anatomy, Physiology, Pathophysiology and Natural Therapies .
Leonie holds Bachelors Degree in Health Science from Griffith University as well as Advanced Diplomas in Naturopathy, Western Herbal Medicine and Nutritional Medicine. She works as a consulting Naturopath for a Gold Coast based natural health company, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Enterprises. Leonie has been teaching science subjects for 3 years and is a firm favourite amongst students for her ability to make the hardest subject seem easier and her warm, caring nature. Leonie is passionate about educating both children and adults in the field of natural health.


Maria Lui completed her fashion training in the mid 80′s and has been working solidly in the fashion industry ever since. Maria started with Zozo Designs as range coordinator and patternmaker and quickly moved up to designer and marketing coordinator. She has also worked and designed for Headworx and Voodoo Dolls Clothing Pty Ltd. Along with design role in these companies,Maria was responsible for liaising with local and international suppliers and was involved with production processes. Maria has a diploma of Business (Marketing) where she is able to apply her day to day skills within the fashion workroom to the sales and business side of the fashion industry. Maria has acquired many years of experience in the fashion industry in a variety of areas such as women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, working for international companies such as Billabong and Fila and local surfwear label Brothers Neilsen. Maria has extensive knowledge about the surf and swimwear markets. Currently Maria is helping to set up the Lisa Blue Swimwear label as freelance designer, patternmaker and coordinator.

Having a background in both Marketing and Fashion Design Maria possesses both the creative and business ability to develop and guide students into their target market and has experience and knowledge in importing from countries such as China and India. Maria has won a number of industry awards such as Gold Coast Swimwear Awards, Wild Design Awards and Australian Wool Corporation Awards which are great additions to an already impressive resume. Maria currently designs for 2Chillies Swimwear.


From producing and directing to camera assisting and running, there are few roles Mitch Ziems hasn’t experienced in the film and media industry.

Formally, he is a writer, responsible for commercials, concept trailers, promotional videos and short films since completing his Bachelor of Communications in 2008. He currently has his first feature film in development.

Mitch is also the Program Manager for the Gold Coast Film Festival (after initially starting as a social media volunteer in 2010), a role that keeps him close to the ever-changing industry. This position, and consequent knowledge of how to progress in the film world, allows him to provide the kind of crucial, real-world knowledge required for his students to establish their position in the industry after completing their course.

It is this belief in practical education that brought Mitch to the Academy of Design in 2014, where he ensures that students comprehend and embrace the entire production process to create brilliant pieces of visual work.


Alicia is based on the Gold Coast, Australia. In 1999 Alicia bought her first serious camera and began shooting anything and everything and teaching herself whatever she could in terms of technique and art. Over the years she has developed a love of conceptual photography that may involve animals, humans or both. The stories she constructs have a little piece of herself in them delving into the many experiences that have crafted the person she is today. Along with her love of animals and photography, Alicia has developed her Lightroom and Photoshop skills to a level that has seen her composite work awarded at the highest level, however Alicia isn’t only a conceptual photographer; her wildlife images saw her awarded Queensland Epson AIPP Science, Environment and Nature photographer of the year for 2014.

Alicia is a Master of Photography with the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) and an Associate of Photography with WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International). She has judged the AIPP state professional photography awards in Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia as well as judging the Australian Professional Photography Awards each year since 2010. In 2014 she judged at the WPPI awards for the first time after much success as an entrant over previous years.

Alicia’s work is now also featured on the picpockets appavailable for all mobile devices worldwide.

Qld AIPP Epson Professional Photography Awards; Science, Environment and Nature Photographer of the Year
Qld AIPP Epson Professional Photography Awards; Portrait Photographer FINALIST
WPPI USA – 2nd Place Child Portrait Photographer

WPPI USA – Grand Award Winner, Commercial Photography
WPPI USA – Illustrative Photographer of the Year
WPPI USA – 3rd Place Composite Photographer

WPPI USA – Pet/Animal Photographer of the Year
Qld AIPP Epson Professional Photography Awards – Landscape Photographer of the Year
Qld AIPP Epson Professional Photography Awards – Illustrative Photographer of the Year
Creative Asia Awards, China – 7th Place – Illustrative Category

WPPI USA – Album Category WINNER
Qld AIPP Epson Professional Photography Awards – Illustrative Photographer of the Year

Add On Exhibition, Mary Place Gallery, Sydney. Group exhibition of invited art photographers.

Digital SLR Photography Magazine, UK. January issue. Image used in a feature on, “Painting with Light”.


Jade is passionate about her career in the  Makeup & Glamour industry. She is a fully qualified photographer and runs her own company EDAJ Photography, which specialises in high fashion & glamour photography.

Jade is also a fully qualified makeup artist with a high creative flair for exploring innovative and unique looks for her clients. Her rare talent of combining her skills as both photographer & makeup Artist has proven a successful combination not only in business, but understanding the ‘total look’ in a finished photograph. Her fashion styling skills and ability to explore innovative styling ideas for her images makes her an invaluable asset to fashion design & fashion styling students in the creation of their portfolios.

Having gained her qualifications in Makeup & Photography at the Academy, Jade understands the high standards set by AOD in curriculum, study deadlines & above all the culture of creating employable student graduates that are ready for the industry.

Jade continues to add to her skills by completing a diploma in Hairdressing and further adding value to her product.

She brings a diverse and valuable range of skills to the Academy across four departments – Makeup, Beauty, Fashion Styling & Photography.


Simon started his career in Education over 8 years ago. A true artist he pursued his interests in illustration and cartooning combined with his skills in painting. He still creates unique illustration portraits and commercially sells his work today. He then followed a natural progression into taking his art forms into photography.  With a highly artistic flair he started to create images that truly reflected his beginnings as an artist – and created photographic portfolios that are often visually confronting and thought-provoking.

He then travelled and worked extensively building his passion for photography.

After years of exploring this new found avenue he furthered his studies with photography with the intension of combining his Bachelor of Education with Photography and artistic exploration. His strengths with working with people also led him into Fashion / Editorial photography. He has worked with Models, Fashion Designers and Performers in portfolios, advertising campaigns and a wide range of editorial work. He now blends his skills to bring a highly innovative edge to his projects at the Academy.


Mihaela has 21 years of extensive experience in the beauty industry working in spas, and in medical environment as an advanced therapist. She has successfully owned and managed her own beauty salon, and has been developing and teaching beauty courses for ten years in Melbourne, Darwin, and Gold Coast.

Mihaela has been involved for the past two years in the review and design of the national beauty therapy standards, and judged in the Beauty Therapy regional and national World Skills Competition. She holds several beauty qualifications (Diploma of Beauty Therapy, a Certificate II in Nail Technology, a Certificate III in Beauty Services, a Graduate Certificate in Intense Pulsed Light and Laser Hair Removal), coupled with teaching qualifications.

Mihaela excels the nurturing side of spa treatments, and the quick results achieved through advanced beauty treatments, and maintains her industry currency working regularly in spas and medical setting environment all over Queensland and NSW. She is extremely passionate about the beauty industry, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to inspire and empower new therapists through her position in training and course creation at the Academy of Design.



Chris brings a wealth of knowledge in Glamour, fashion and innovative makeup to his training at the Academy

Chris is a fully qualified makeup artist and has worked for MAC Cosmetics as a Mac Professional makeup artist. He has also worked with designers and photographers on editorial spreads, fashion campaigns and catwalk, and continues to work as a freelance makeup artist on commercial projects. He remains very sought after with Designers and photographers that continue to use his creative styling and makeup skills to be a part of ‘image creation’ on many projects.

Chris has lived and worked in London. This has given him a global perspective on his work and the International standards expected from his industry.

His passion lies in creating high fashion images that are both cleverly styled and innovative. His close work with models and photographers bring lots of experience and knowledge to his training, mixed with his training passion to impart skills to his students.


Zach comes to the Academy of Design after fulfilling his career objective with experience as a Commercial Videographer / Filmmaker for the past 8 Years.

Completing his Bachelor of Arts – Film Screen & Media Major, Creative Writing Minor and a Diploma of Multimedia  Zach brings a varied knowledge of the industry to his training.

He is also currently working on own feature film influenced by (Directors) : Lloyd Kaufman, David Cronenberg, Sergio Leone, Akira Kurosawa, Roger Corman.

A Straight-Edge Vegan and Blues fan (Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson) and carrying a plethora of stage experience mixed with specialities within the industry including Writing, Directing, Cinematography, Camera Assist, Sound, Editing, Zach provides students at the Academy of Design with the perfect blend of professional assertiveness and street savvy film skills required to make a smashing start in the industry.



Ryan Schembri is Australia’s leading master wedding photographer has been awarded the 2012 AIPP Australian Wedding Photographer of the Year and a three-time winner of the NSWAIPP Wedding Photographer of the Year titles. Ryan was also Australia’s youngest ever master of photography with AIPP

Ryan Schembri has been around the photography industry his whole life. Growing up in a photographic family Ryan has been involved in all facets of photography from printing at his father’s laboratory at the age of 12 and going on to take over the family wedding & portrait studio just on 10 years ago.

Whilst Ryan’s core work is in the wedding market it has lead to shooting many different events & projects throughout his career. Currently shooting 60 weddings a year in Australia & overseas, the balance of maintaining and developing a shooting style along with the educational programs he conducts is vital in today’s market.

Ryan strives to deliver state of the art training in all areas of the photography to the students studying the Diploma of Photography at the Academy of Design and feels passionate about graduating students as dynamic in the industry as he is.


·       2012 AIPP Australian Wedding Photographer of the Year

·       2012 NSWAIPP Wedding Photographer of the Year

·       2011 NSWAIPP Photographer of the Year

·       2011 NSWAIPP Wedding Photographer of the Year

·       2010 NSWAIPP Wedding Album of the Year

·       5 x WPPI International Print of the Year


Claire is an enthusiastic and professional lecturer with a sound track record of responsibility and achievement.  She completed her Bachelor of Design at Massey University in 2008 gaining a First Class Honours and a Massey Scholarship to undertake her Master of Design (Fashion) which she completed in 2010 at Massey University again with First Class honours.

 Before joining the Acadaemy of Design Claire taught  at Massey University, the Australian Institute of Creative Design on the Gold Coast, and at Raffles Design Institute in Manila as Head of Fashion Design.

Claire very much enjoys teaching and imparting knowledge to students across the full gamut of the design process from concept to completion. She particularly enjoys helping students realise their personal design vision.  She  has taught at a variety of levels from diploma to undergraduate and has also run short courses.

Claire is active in the fashion industry; she  mentors local emerging designers and continues to design bespoke garments in the specialist area of tailoring which has been an enduring passion for her. Claire’s design work has featured in several internationally published books and editorials.

Claire believes students should research and develop fantastic ideas but also realise that from that point on the design process becomes more practical and that it is really important to understand the technicalities of pattern cutting, garment construction and the possibilities of fabric. This approach fits well well with the Academy of Design’s philosophy of offerenig a balanced curricula between the provision of industry production and design skills.


Emily Strating, formally known as Emily Boyd, has come to join our creative team as a teacher of Photography this year. Emily’s passion of Photography led her to complete a Bachelor of Photography, majoring in Commercial Photography, in 2007. During and after this time Emily began working on a personal project, the Faces of Photography, which exhibited in May 2008 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, and was later published into a book. The project consisted of a collection of portraits capturing some of the most recognised and promising photographers within the Australian Institute of Professional Photography. Emily’s images have become renowned within the industry and has since won her many awards.

In 2010 Emily moved to Tasmania to study a Master in Teaching, so that she could impart her knowledge and passion to others, whilst still working on the side. After teaching year 11 and 12 students Photography in Tasmania, Emily decided to complete a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, so that she could also teach in the VET system.

In contrast to her creative ability, Emily also has a love for fitness and nutrition. Last year Emily competed for the first time in an INBA bodybuilding championships in the Fitness Model category, and won first place in the Over 30’s Tasmania Titles. Emily later on went to compete at the Nationals in Brisbane in October last year. Currently Emily is studying a Certificate IV in Fitness to pursue this passion as well.

 Emily’s love of photography and teaching combined has made her an asset to our team,………

Shannon McKean – Makeup dept

Shannon has worked as a Makeup Artist since the 1980’s were she was given a Make up Artist Apprenticeship for Television New Zealand. She learnt on the job training for Life Television shows/ News and  Current Affairs as well as Dramas and Soap Operas of the time. Upon the completion of her 3 year apprenticeship she went to London and worked as Estee Lauder’s Make up Artist for the West End, she also worked doing Theater makeup for the West End theater shows while in London.

On returning to Australia she re trained in the field of S.P.F.X with Peter Frampton of the Gold Coast, and became the H.O.D of make up for assorted Dramas and Soap Operas filmed in Australia.

In the mid 1990’s she returned to New Zealand to train in a one year Hairdressing course as well as prosthetic manufacturing, mold making and application course.
This lead on to her working on such films as ‘Narnia’ as a Prosthetic Technician, on ‘King Kong’ applying wigs, as a character makeup artist on ‘Underworld 3′ and a vampire makeup artist for ’30 Days of Nights’.

Shannon has worked at the Academy since 2012 as both a full time trainer and a guest lecturer, and specialises in makeup from High Fashion Photographic, Historical and Retro fashion looks, Bridal makeups, Airbrushing techniques, Face Casting, Mold Making, Prosthetic Manufacturing, Prosthetic Applications to Hairdressing, Retro Hair styling and Character Makeups.

Shannon continues to retrain herself in all fields of Art, Airbrushing, Make up applications and Prosthetics to stay current in the constant changing field of make up and filming techniques.