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Written By

Tianna Killoran


College of Arts, Society and Education

Publish Date

19 October 2022

How creativity created a career

JCU Alumni Michael Bromage found that a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Music and English put him on the path to a creative career that has taken him around the world. Michael says his adaptable and creative skills have enabled him to work on projects writing songs for local businesses, developing video and web content across continents, and helping others to creatively solve problems.

Taking an unexpected turn at the very beginning of his studies at JCU, Michael found his home in the creative arts. “I was actually really interested in the sciences when I first started university, but I was encouraged by a lecturer to try out music composition subjects. So, that’s exactly what I did,” Michael says.

“After that, I just kept studying music because I found it really fun, both in the production and composition side of things, which is where you record and coordinate people to produce a song or a performance,” he says. Michael also combined his music studies with a major in English, giving him the tools to write and communicate well. “It opened a lot of doors for me. I found that if you can write well, you can do anything,” he says.

Not long before graduating, Michael had an opportunity that was too good to pass up. “In my final year, I met a guy who wanted to make a living through music and, using a shipping container as a studio, we produced recordings for local Townsville bands,” he says.

Looking to gain more work from local businesses, they also produced jingles for advertisements. “Producing jingles was heaps of fun. It’s just like producing mini pop songs in 30 seconds where you get to have a chorus and a verse and an overall message,” Michael says.

“It was a really good experience doing this work because it taught me a lot about business and how to utilise my creative and writing skill set to make a living.”

Some of Michael’s jingles have played for more than 20 years. “I sometimes hear Bayswater Road Radiators on the radio, and many people remember the Don West, Castletown, and Warrina Ice Rink jingles, too,” Michael says. “It’s nice to know they’re catchy!”

JCU Alumni Michael Bromage holding up a microphone next to a tall cactus tree in a scrub and desert landscape.
The back of a person wearing headphones and sitting in a sound recording studio with a keyboard and sound board.
Left: Michael recording sound for a documentary in the Mojave Desert. Credit R. Fitzpatrick. Supplied by Michael Bromage.

Travelling the world as a digital nomad

Keeping up with his creative thirst, Michael soon picked up a camera and started learning how to create video content. “Our business was one of the first local service providers who could make video for your website. I began using these skills to work with real estate companies in different regions around Australia, but also started producing documentaries and other video content,” he says.

“One of my favourite projects was working on a documentary for National Geographic about the most venomous animals in the world. It involved a fair bit of travel and was a lot of fun, so after that I decided to travel more,” Michael says.

Michael’s creativity then took him around the world, working in the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, China, across the Silk Road and travelling through more than 30 countries.

Along the way, he picked up new skills creating websites and developing digital content. “I would contact people and pitch my skills,” Michael says. “I loved creating digital things, helping people and organisations with online content, photography, music, video... It was a lot of fun and a lot of freedom.”

Michael especially found that the friendships he developed in his university days became a source of new opportunities. “One of the wonderful things about university life is the opportunity to make friends from around the world,” Michael says. “Years down the track, friends would suggest that someone needed help to make a documentary, or improve their business presence online, and I would pitch them and work with them. I would also offer to train people in creativity and content production as a ‘value-add’ and that small gesture taught me how to help people learn creative skills.”

JCU Alumni Michael Bromage standing at the front of a room next to a scren presenting to a group of twenty people sitting at desks.
JCU Alumni Michael Bromage from the shoulders up, smiling and wearing a button up shirt.
Left: Michael facilitating a creative workshop for community members. Credit B. Ashley. Right: JCU Alumni Michael Bromage. Credit N. Fernbach. Supplied by Michael Bromage.

Supporting community creativity

An offer to become the ABC Open Producer for North Queensland brought Michael back to Townsville. He helped local residents learn how to produce award-winning content that could be broadcast across the country and around the world.

“I loved working with the ABC and learned that well-told stories can change people’s lives. One memorable story that featured ‘Emma: Master Shredder’ went global, influenced corporate policies, and changed perspectives about how people with disability contribute to society,” he says.

Michael then joined the Townsville City Council, taking on a variety of projects. “I’m always motivated to help our community create and innovate,” he says. “I helped our local government produce entertaining content — such as our waste team dancing to disco music at the dump and a short Halloween-style film to inform residents about renovations to the Townsville Civic Theatre — to demonstrate that our Council can deliver important information in a creative way.”

“Townsville is a creative city. The team won state and national campaign awards for our creative approaches, which is really nice,” Michael says.

Through his role at the Townsville City Council, Michael also produced resources to help others create and innovate. “I co-designed a 24hr creative studio for the community and rolled it out through our public library. The idea being that when you are falling asleep at night and an idea pops in your head, there’s a place you can go that has useful resources to help you get started, for free,” he says.

In the first year of operation, hundreds of people completed projects through the library’s 24-hour studio. “People started businesses, explored solutions for social and environmental issues, made new friends and had heaps of fun. An excerpt for the popular kid’s show ‘Bluey’ was recorded in our library studio, which you can watch on ABC and Disney+.”

Michael says he began to see how creativity could be supported by collaboration. “One thing I’ve learned is that people who are interested in similar ideas or projects usually start coming together to collaborate and learn from each other,” he says. “You end up with a community that builds capacity and come together not because of a scheduled program, but because they want to solve problems and pursue ideas together. It’s an activity that can be scaled to produce better outcomes for our communities.

“That’s the power creativity gives us — the ability to adapt and change, and to make good things happen, for ourselves, our families, and our cities. Through creativity we live interesting lives.”

JCU Alumni Michael Bromage

Want to find out more about where a creative career can take you? Learn more about studying visual arts and design at JCU.

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