Navigating a business landscape: An interview with Landscape Designer Mark Tisdell
It was through the Newcastle freelancing space The Roost Creative that Roost president and landscape designer Mark Tisdell came up with his business name, MUD Landscape Design. He originally planned on calling it Mark Tisdell Urban Design and ran the idea by a Roost graphic designer named Mark Owens. Owens paused, thought for a moment and then said, “why don’t you call it MUD, Mark Urban Designs”. With that, the decision was made, and from then he was able to get Rooster James Henderson from Digital& to create his website. He had his logo made by a local agency called Ronnoco. Incidentally, owners Raz and Jodi also worked out of the Roost for a while.
Fast forward two years and Mark’s business has been steadily growing, achieving national recognition at the AILDM and amassing a strong client base. Mark’s passion for the outdoors has seen him designing outdoor spaces for the last six years. Even as a child he knew he wanted to study architecture.
“Growing up I spent a lot of time outdoors which gave me a natural appreciation for landscape and environments, I particularly liked the composition of spaces and felt I’d be good at putting it all together. Work experience placement at Newcastle based architecture firm, EJE, turned this passion into reality.”
After traveling and pursuing other interests, Mark attended the University of Newcastle and received his Masters of Architecture. But it is outdoor space that Mark is naturally drawn to; he prefers plants and soil to inanimate objects like concrete, bricks and timber. He likes designing living breathing ecosystems that give habitat back to local wildlife.
“I find designing outdoor spaces gives me a great amount of creative freedom; I can move through projects much faster and rarely have to seek council approvals. My background in architecture gives me a great understanding of building design meaning that when it comes to design the landscape, it generally ties in really well with the architecture,” he says of his work.
He specializes in selecting interesting, beautiful and appropriate planting schemes for a variety of gardens with specific needs and styles; for example, taking care to ensure trees with invasive roots are not positioned over underground services, or tall trees are not placed under power lines. He has to look at seasonal changes and companion planting, what is deciduous and what isn’t. It is important to consider everything, right down to the colour of the flowers.
“There’s quite a lot to think about,” he says.
When he started his career, he took on some pro-bono projects that many Novocastrians might recognise including the Headphone Project on Darby Street, the seats and lights in Goldbergs Coffee House and the much-loved Darby Street Community Garden.
“Everyone knows where they are at in their career,” Mark says of the controversial idea of working for free. “You have to get a start somehow, if you choose to give it a go, make sure it’s under your own terms.”
Since his pro bono work, most of Mark’s clients have been off the back of word-of-mouth referrals. Recently enquiries have increased dramatically on his website due to his great Google ranking. His number one spot on Google is thanks to the help from James at Digital&.
Whilst he has a standard process for all projects, every project is a unique bespoke design. When someone wants a landscape design from his company, he gets as much information as he can about thespace before stepping on site. Then he completes a one hour on-site consultation where he discusses all aspects of the project with the client.
“It is important to find out as much as possible about the home owner, from kids to pets to budgets,” he says.
Mark is then best equipped to put together a fee proposal to complete a concept design.
Now things get very visually interesting.
“The concept design is where I do a hand drawn perspective which is something not a lot of people do. I’ve probably drawn around 200 concept designs,” he says.
From there it’s all about realising the design. The client will determine how involved Mark will be with the project. He works with builders, landscapers and gardeners to make his design become a reality for the client. He encourages people not to treat landscaping as an afterthought.
“When it comes to costs, a good rule of thumb is to consider spending around 10% of the value of the property. This has the capacity to greatly increase the overall value of the property,” he says.
Mark’s preference toward planting is predominately native with a mix of interesting exotic features. Dracaena Draco ‘Dragon Trees’ are definitely at the top of the list for a sculpturally beautiful and slow growing feature plant within the garden.
“As a landscape designer, you have the styles you prefer, however you have to cater to the clients’ needs. This allows you to learn how to work with a variety of landscape styles,” he says. “I’ve got lots of experience working with native coastal, hardy architectural, cottage and formal gardens. My preference would have to be coastal sites with interesting architecture.”
When he’s not scoping out people’s gardens, Mark is back at the Roost working away. He has been a member on and off since 2013, and president for the past two years. He likes that the Roost is centrally located, and attracts an array of talented and creative professionals looking for a space to call their own. He has also noticed an increase in membership due to the Roost’s great work environment.
“The Roost has provided me with a great space from which to work. There is creative energy, and an aspect of comradery and friendship that you get here. I like to be social when I work and bounce ideas of others,” he says. “From graphic designers to photographers to bloggers to marketing experts, the Roost has everything you need to set up a creative business.”
We’re so glad to have Mark leading the way at the Roost Creative, and we’d invite anyone who is curious about the Roost and/or landscape design to come by and say g’day. You can get in touch with Mark directly by visiting his website: http://www.mudlandscapedesign.com.au/