Wanganui, New Zealand
I’ve spent the past five days here in and around the far-flung, remarkable community of Wanganui (or Whanganui, as preferred by the local Maori), acting as an external moderator (re: graduating Masters and Bachelors students, along with Sherry Blankenship from VCU/Qatar and Rex Turnbull of Lino magazine, Australia) at the Wanganui School of Design. This remarkable school punches far above its weight (consistently out-pacing other NZ design programs re: student awards won, etc.) thanks in no small part to the inimitably dynamic Hazel Gamec (an ex-pat U.S. citizen from Minneapolis who jump-started the program here 20 years ago).
Aside from reviewing student work (very talented, very intelligent), I was able to take in a day of New Zealand farm-life with Hazel’s guy (tough ex-Navy Seal, diver, ardent hard-man hunter, deer expert), and I spent a day “up the river with Riki,” a cool Maori artist dude (working at the school) who took me to his ancestral land, introduced me to some of his relatives, welcomed me to his marae, and gave me some insight into the fascinating cultural milieu of the Maori (and the polemic relationship between these native peoples and the pakeha, or white folks). Fascinating, and something I’ll be looking into further…
A hearty “kia ora” and thank you(!) to everyone at the school who made me feel so welcome!
Photos above: The design school; awesome Hazel; tattoo-specialist Riki; a cool vernacular sign on the edge of town; freshly ironic graffiti (Maori accused of being “terrorists” headlined in daily news…); and sheep-herding Harvey’s way.
Wellington, New Zealand
I was fortunate this week to be able to visit various studios and design offices in both Auckland and Wellington, to meet with some leading designers and Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ) board members, and to take in some “tiki-touring”—all thanks to DINZ and the gracious hospitality of its dynamo CEO, Cathy Veninga. I also gave evening talks in the two cities (as part of the Designers Speak series), with favorable feedback from attendees.
In Auckland, Cathy and I visited InHouse Design Group Ltd., Shine, and Studio Alexander Ltd. In Wellington, we visited Experimenta (where we also met type maven Kris Sowersby of Klim Typographic Design), Moxie Design Group Limited, Parkview Motorcamp Ltd. (a cooperative with the inimitable Len Cheesman), Base Two (DINZ Vice President Sean McGarry, Creative Director at Base Two, accompanied us on the Wellington visits), and Designworks. Educational visits included the School of Art and Design (Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies, Auckland University of Technology [AUT]), and a pre-opening peek at the graduation show of Massey University/Wellington School of Design students.
Thanks to all those who opened their doors to me! I was impressed with the creativity and positive energy I encountered during this whirlwind design visit… and I look forward to further liaison and collaboration with New Zealand designers in the future (I’ll be writing a feature article on graphic design in New Zealand for Communication Arts magazine over the next months).
Photos above: The black sands of North Piha beach; Cathy and the lead team at InHouse; Kris, Elaina, & Duncan outside Experimenta; coffee at Moxie; the cheeky door at Parkview Motorcamp; Writers’ Walk in Wellington.
In the category of ‘strange but true,’ my old school chum Gary Ludwig (now Creative Director at Interbrand in Toronto), has “officially retired his beard… after 33 years of faithful service” and offered a ‘before & after’ shot to “help identify him, should you run into him without warning.” If you do, let me know…