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Image Credit - Sarah Walker

Bureau of Work’s Erin Milne on building a brand in the creative space




“Producing contemporary and experimental art for the here and now. Bureau of Works fosters distinctive voices and ambitious ideas.”

At Pixel Together, we are intrigued by creative people, especially those who take their creativity and turn it into a career. This week, we chatted to entrepreneur Erin Milne, executive producer and founder of Bureau of Works, an independent theatrical and visual arts producing company based in Melbourne. Through our conversation, we learnt how Erin devised the distinctive Bureau of Works aesthetic (which we love!) and got an insight into how she positioned the company, attracted the kind of people she wanted to work with and, seven years on, has found herself with a fulfilling, thriving business.


The PXT Team

Co-founder @ Pixel Together

Tuesday 12th July 2022

Behind the brand
Erin describes the brand's strength: 'One element of being very relationships based is that most of the people we work with return to work with us, and never leave. So, one project leads into the next, and so on. That is a strength of the business – we don’t need to advertise; word of mouth is 99% of our marketing. It really is that strong.” Erin and her team take care in the onboarding stage to ensure they are the right fit to support what their clients want to achieve. The brand aesthetic is key to providing transparency at this stage, underpinned by the brand values, which Erin notes are “a sense of adventure, cooperation and collaboration, trust and reliability and being knowledgeable. So our clients trust us to deliver what we say we will deliver.”

What should others consider in starting their own business?
Erin’s advice to herself in the early days of Bureau of Works is not to give in to the scarcity mentality. “Don’t feel like you have to say yes to every job that comes along because you are panicking that there won’t be any more to follow. So quickly, you can be overloaded and overworked, and that leads to a loss in quality, which can be a downward spiral.”

This is undoubtedly a reminder we could all use in the frenetic post-lockdown landscape!

To hear more about what Erin and her team are up to, subscribe to the Bureau of Works newsletter, or follow them on Instagram.

If you’re considering launching a side project, career pivot or alternate business, we’ve outlined some tips to get you started, here.

Image credit: Bureau of Works

The beginning of a brand

In the early 2010s, Erin had reached a crossroads in her career. She could continue working within various arts organisations and perhaps move into more senior managerial roles, or she could follow the tug to pursue what she loved - taking an artist’s seemingly crazy idea and figuring out how to make it happen. For Erin, working closely in partnership with artists is what drives her and is ultimately the path she chose.

Initially, Erin set out as a freelancer with the goal to work on different art forms with a range of clients in a variety of contexts. Those were her guiding principles and what would later inform her brand values.
It took a personal realisation that she needed to “get some swag going on” to make the shift from freelancing. As Erin says, “work was taking over my whole life; I needed mental separation between the company and myself. So, I made the conscious decision to talk about the company and company name rather than describe myself as a freelancer.” Giving her business a name distanced it from her and made it easier to promote.

Why Bureau of Works?
Once Erin had decided to create the company, she felt a big shift – that she was going all in. The first step was brainstorming a name and investing in a new visual identity.
It was important that the brand could attract and represent a broad range of clients who are all doing their own thing in terms of style. Erin likens it to a record label, a metaphor suggested to her by her design team at Forde and Nicol. Like a record label, her brand needed to be able to umbrella a broad genre or sensibility yet hold a collection of artists who have diverse, esoteric projects.
Aesthetic choices
We love the distinctive red overlay and striking font style of the Bureau of Works site, created by designers Forde and Nicol. Erin was drawn to work with them as they had a client base within the same field, other artists and smaller arts organisations. They understood her world.

Together, they dove into finding solutions for Erin’s unique challenge - that Bureau of Works needs to be represented by an aesthetic that can hold every artist’s project, all of which have radically different promotional images and styles. Erin describes this as a cohesive frame, a brand identity that has an impact but can recede when required. It’s not Bureau of Works that she is selling; it’s the individual projects.

Forde and Nicol initially presented a lilac overlay along with the red, both of which Erin loved. She says of the choice, “I wanted to challenge myself to be bold, and red is really energising in that way. I needed to give myself the confidence to go; ‘I’m doing this.’”
The success of this aesthetic is reflected in the fact that most of Erin’s clients find her through word of mouth – with her website being a critical tool in verifying recommendations. In the creative arts, who you work with (and where) is important, so potential clients will often look in detail at the Bureau of Works portfolio via the website. 

'It took a personal realisation that she needed to “get some swag going on” to make the shift from freelancing'

'One element of being very relationships based is that most of the people we work with return to work with us, and never leave'



Tuesday 12th July 2022

Co-founder @ Pixel Together

The PXT Team


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