Christmas News

Merry Christmassy everyone! Here’s the news of the day, designed by me, at Strategy Creative. It’s part of a set of Christmas wrapping paper that the team designs as a cheeky annual thank-you gift for clients. Articles originally sourced from The Onion, News Thump and Daily Currant.


Recently I had the pleasure of hosting The Breakfast Club at Strategy Creative. The event is an opportunity to share ideas, techniques or innovations in the field of design. I chose to speak about ambiguity. I led with a quote from the professor, Les Lancaster. He said that ‘A sense of mystery is intrinsic to the human mind, It’s intrinsic for us to seek answers. It’s our evolutionary heritage, moving us forward by motivating us to find out more and use our imagination.’ This idea that holding something back, in order to let your audience become co-creators of a message, is so compelling to me. To illustrate my point, I played the final clip from the TV series Sopranos. The ending of this show achieved cult status specifically because the writers chose not to spell everything out.

For more on the power of omission, check out Joe Fasslers article, ‘The Fine Art of Ambiguous Writing’

Eastbourne Carnival: Identity

The Eastbourne Carnival identity is a celebration of a fun family day out by the seaside. The visual style we developed of quirky cut-outs and playful typography was extended across promotional collateral. Designed in collaboration with Salted Herring.

Semi-Permanent 2016

Another year has rolled around and so has another Semi-Permanent. So I showed up at the Aotea Centre and waited for my salty colleagues to arrive. As I lingered about, designers were clambering to their seats, unwittingly making music with their feet on the magical staircase. After that delightful start, I went inside and soaked up all the inspiration. Here's a few of my favourite speakers: 

Tea Uglow, from Google Creative Lab, talked about cultivating doubt. She said that you have to doubt in order to create. The thinking goes that doubt gives rise to questions and questions lead to answers. So challenge everything.

Mimi Gilmore, of Mexico and Burger Burger fame, talked about grinding it out. Aside from having true grit, it was reflecting on what made her tick that took her career from good to great. It reminded me of Shakespeare's timeless advice, ‘To thine own self be true’. It was a theme that popped up time and again across the conference; when we trust ourselves and our dreams it’s empowering.

Chris Fjelddahl, from 8, talked about how we analyse things with our brains but experience things with our hearts. Consequently, when designing we need to put emotions first, this then drives thinking, which then drives action. He also said that having high standards can only make you better.

Marie Scileppi, from 72 and Sunny, loves change. She claimed that to be a great creative requires taking great risks, to enter into the dark unknown. She talked about how every great moment in her life was preceded with a leap of faith. By taking chances we can shift the way we perceive the world and how we respond creatively to it. She finished with the insight that ‘frustration comes when we outgrow our reality.’

Steven Selzer, from AirBnB, talked about the fiction of no friction. His idea was that when we remove friction we also remove opportunities for self-reflection, self-growth and self-discovery. The trick is to find a balance between the old and familiar and the new and challenging. He used AirBnBs model to illustrate his point. They make it easy to book, so you can immerse yourself in a foreign world, in the process you discover your best self.

If that's too many words for you, here's a cool picture from the Auckland Art Gallery. They had an exhibit on called 'Called Space to Dream'. They had dreamy paintings of banana plantations alongside an ethereal sculpture that stimulated the senses with aromas of turmeric and cinnamon.

Kokako: Process

One of the great things about developing a brand is that it lets you step into another world. In developing the identity for Kokako, an app that tracks the use of Maori language over the radio, I got to do just that. I researched the rich visual history of the Maori people and found plenty to be inspired by, including bold graphic shapes and colours and a refreshingly honest typographic style. The logo for Kokako that I created, along with Salted Herring, plays off this background as well as the rhythmic phonetics inherent in the name. The design won a Purple Pin at the 2016 Best Awards.

NZ Airports

Along with the team at Salted Herring, I recently had the great pleasure of rebranding the NZ Airports Association. The design is a shameless celebration of the visual language synonymous with airports. The identity draws inspiration from runway markings, san-serif typography, ticker panels, pictograms, yellow, black and the unending blue sky. The website also got a refresh. The site is primarily a resource library, so a design system was developed that could accommodate a range of publication types and contents.

Wild Eyes: Branding

Wild Eyes is a social media platform for Kiwi kids to participate and share nature missions. In collaboration with Salted Herring, we helped create their identity. The quirky logo was inspired by a child-like fascination with laser-eyed cats. It expands from the centre, suggesting that opening your eyes will also open your mind to new experiences.

Wrong Theory

A few years back now, Scott Dadich, at Wired Magazine, wrote an article about intentionally getting the design wrong in order to make it right. He lead with an example by the artist Edgar Degas, Jockeys Before the Race. In the painting, Degas breaks with accepted convention of the time and ‘ruined’ the composition with a pole through the subjects head. Dadich argues that this small act of subterfuge is the driving force behind creativity. It challenges stale conventions and engages the apathetic gaze. I bring it up because the recent revival of the Star Wars franchise has bought with it a poster design that uses a similar technique. It’s reassuring that this simple trick, when used with restraint and consideration, is just as effective today as it was in the 1870’s.

St Fabiola: Process

St Fabiola is the pseudonym for Kirsten Sutherland. She creates embroidered art that’s imbedded with scientific, spiritual and mythical themes. I drew on this by exploring an eclectic mix of images, each touching on an aspect of her work. In particular, I was inspired by the symbolism of heraldry, the profile of legendary heroines, as well as the silhouettes created by cloaks, hoods and scarfs. The resulting visual identity, which represents the iconic image of St Fabiola, draws on all these findings. It’s a stylised, self-assured depiction of the heroine. This is reinforced further through the typography and colour palette with is strong but feminine. Created alongside the team at Salted Herring.

Ariane Spanier – Semi-Permanent 2015

At Semi Permanent conference this week I had the pleasure of listening to Berlin designer Ariane Spanier discuss her process. She talked about the influence of her childhood, design school and interning at Sagmeister Inc. Spanier showed us examples of her work, it’s playful, and explorative in style. This act of experimenting was the beating heart of her style. Her typography is rich and expressive. She uses layering, texture and movement to give it a fun conceptual edge. Her work for Fukt, a magazine for contemporary drawing, was particularly stunning. With each issue she starts from scratch, focusing her energies on a single experimental mark-making technique. For one cover the typeface was constructed with pencil lead floating in mid-air. In another design she used motion-capture to create abstract shapes. For the latest cover of Fukt she combines fluid lines and bold blocks to create avant-garde letterforms. It was beautiful.

InStudio: Logo Design

InStudio Dance approached Make Believe to create the identity for their new dance school. They love to teach children the joy of movement. We depicted this by creating a logo that is fluid and energetic.

The New Adventures Club: Poster Design

Introducing a new initiative from Make Believe, ‘The New Adventures Club’. It's only the most awesome friendship club in the whole world, with a mission is to seek out and share new adventures. New food. New music. New movies. New friends. New experiences. New art. New ideas. New indulgences. 

Heritage Hotels: Concierge Map Design

It seems just about every designer loves maps, so Make Believe jumped at the chance to help Salted Herring create a set of concierge maps for Heritage Hotels. The maps pinpoint key attractions in various destinations throughout New Zealand.

Photographing 1 View from 2 Perspectives

The studios new Mamiya 7ii has arrived, so we thought it appropriate to take it for a test drive. Here's a couple of snaps of the same view taken from different perspectives on either side of the bay. Really love the colour and detail that the old medium format brings to the photo.

Gospel of Matthew: Book Cover Design

Here's the latest book cover design that Make Believe has proposed for Bible Societies gospel series. One of the key themes the author draws on is that Jesus was a philosopher, a thinker that understood the relationship between head and heart. The cover design reflects this with a layered combination of vector art and etchings.

Photographing A Land of Make Believe

Over easter a few of us hiked the invigorating Kepler Track. It was inspiring to get away from the computer screen and get in touch with nature. Our first night was spent atop Mt Luxmore. As evening fell, mist crept up the mountains, joining us in our slumber. The next day we woke to a dream as our hut sat floating above the clouds. We continued our trek along the ridge-line while the mountains surrounding us magically vanished and in and out the mist. It was like walking through a land of make believe.


Heritage Hotels: Best Destinations

In collaboration with the team at Salted Herring, I recently developed the Heritage Hotels ‘Best Destinations’ campaign. It’s objective was to highlight how Heritage services the top tourism destinations throughout New Zealand. To achieve this, we crafted a flexible typographic system and a set of evolving assets that could be switched out to suit the changing needs of the market, such as promoting summer versus winter holidays.