• David Williams in the CEO of Galimbaa, the team behind NITV's new look. He says designing a logo for everyone was a daunting task. (Supplied: David Williams)Source: Supplied: David Williams
When designer and Executive Director of Indigenous creative agency, Gilimbaa, David Williams was given the daunting task of rebranding a national television channel, he wanted to tell a story for all mob.
Dan Butler

3 Dec 2021 - 12:30 PM  UPDATED 12 Dec 2021 - 7:36 AM

David Williams remembers the moment he realised he wanted to tell stories through art. 

It was 2001, and the Wakka Wakka man was driving to an exhibition of artworks by his Uncle. In the car with him was one of his Uncle's friends, the venerable Yuin activist Chicka Dixon. 

"While we were in the car, I was hearing these legendary stories," David tells NITV.

"I've learned later in life what a remarkable campaigner he was, and just an amazing Blakfulla in the history of our country."

It was the first time David recognised the special bond between his Uncle and this pillar of Aboriginal activism, and the part they both played in telling, and shaping, the story of First Nations people. 

"And that led me to understand the role that people like my Uncle had in my cultural upbringing, and particularly him telling his story through art, I've really connected with.

"So I was encouraged to basically pick up a paintbrush, and start painting my story."

It's still the driving force behind his work today. 

David is the Executive Director of Gilimbaa, an Indigenous creative agency. They've provided services for businesses and corporations, including bespoke artworks, photography, videography, animation and branding, since 2008.

"It was around that time that Kevin Rudd had delivered the apology, and there was a real movement particularly around corporates wanting to engage... in a more meaningful way.

"And we were well placed to be able to assist those organisations communicate and tell their story through a cultural lens."

That was front of mind for his latest project: David and Gilimbaa are the creative force behind NITV's channel branding, unveiled on the anniversary of NITV's debut on free-to-air television 9 years ago.

He says it was an exciting, and daunting, assignment. 

"What is the story we're gonna tell?," David asked himself.

"Something that mob can connect with and own, connecting 60,000 plus years of culture into the 21st Century."

As a nationally broadcast network with a strong online presence, NITV seeks to serve and represent the many diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around the country.

Recognising that diversity is a (welcome) challenge, one David faced as well in creating the new logo. 

"We think about traditionally learning our stories and our culture through song cycles, story, dance and art. And this is obviously the basis of our culture and ceremony.

"This channel is carrying stories of our people all across the country. It's that Songline that traverses the country, that allows our culture to be carried.

"So how do you come up with a concept that needs to be so simple, and needs to tell so many different stories... of mobs across the country?"

The final result has elements of different mobs from around the country: saltwater, freshwater, desert people.

It'll become a familiar sight, part now of a shared story between NITV and Gilimbaa. David remembers where that story began for him too, "Like most Blakfullas in this country!".

On December 12, 2012, David was leading a workshop about Indigenous consulting for a corporate client, in a room with several First Nations professionals. 

"I mentioned in that session... that it was an historic moment because (NITV was) now free to air," he says.

"It's a station that we can all connect with... that (also) gives access to non-Indigenous Australia to our stories told in an authentic and Indigenous-led way."

They're stories that NITV will continue to tell on air and in print, as will David through his art: the shared story between the two starts today. 

Songs are sung, clapsticks are struck, and the heartbeat of our culture is heard. NITV launches its new re-brand from 12 December.