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Ken Done

b. 1940

Ken Done (b. 1940), painter, studied at East Sydney Tech before becoming an advertising graphic designer. He gave up work to paint full time in 1980. Soon, his stylised, colourful representations of Sydney's beaches, harbour, animals and flowers found their way onto placemats, t-shirts, bibs, swimwear, sheets, mugs and vases. In 1987, when Ellis took this photograph for Playboy, Done had an annual turnover of more than $4 million. Ellis spent time with him at his studio on the water at Chinaman's Beach in Middle Harbour, finding him to have 'a strong sense of himself as successful designer, entrepreneur and celebrity [but with] a humble side to him that keeps things well in perspective and will not allow him to be seduced by success.' Done recently told George Negus that sneers at his 'commercial' art by critics and other artists worried him - 'I'd be tougher than I really am if I told you that it didn't hurt sometimes' - but his business has endured, and his paintings still sell well, particularly in the UK and Japan. Done was named Australia's Father of the Year in 1989 and Mosman Citizen of the Year in 1993 and he was Australia's Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF in 1993. A large exhibition of his art from the 1980s toured New South Wales between 1991 and 1993. The Powerhouse Museum, the restaurant of which was decorated by Done in the early 1990s, held a large solo exhibition of his work in 1994-1995.

Updated 2018