Emerging graphic designer and soon-to-be graduate Kirstin McLachlan sought out an internship at just the right place. A tenacious student designer, Kirstin invested time looking for a suitable placement that would combine her love of art, with her ambition to gain real-world graphic design skills. After a lengthy search, all roads led to Creative Waikato – it was a perfect fit. Read on to hear about Kirstin’s internship experience, creative briefs, and her satisfaction when seeing her designs ‘driving around the Waikato’.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Kirstin McLachlan, lover of art and animals, I am currently in my third year of studying BMA Graphic Design at Wintec.
Can you tell us about the internship paper you are doing at Media Arts? For the internship paper, I was required to go out and find a suitable placement for me to gain relevant experience. I found myself emailing various different design studios and advertising agencies with either no reply or a friendly ‘no’, but I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for. I emailed Creative Waikato asking if they might know of any graphic design internship opportunities in Hamilton and they ended up taking me on for themselves. So my internship experience as their in-house graphic designer.
Tell me about the goals of your internship at Creative Waikato? Some of my goals were: To improve my time management, learn about working in a professional environment, apply my graphic design skills to real-life projects and gain experience working to a client brief.
During your internship you completed some design work for Creative Waikato, what was the most rewarding design challenge? Creative Waikato gave me a few design projects, but the most personally rewarding project was the car branding. They challenged me to create a design that would be cohesive with their existing branding, communicate who they are and to ‘not look corporate’ for their vehicle.
How did you resolve that challenge? I tried out a few different design styles, I went to them with 3 draft ideas and luckily they chose my favourite idea, the doodles. They liked the idea of a not so typical ‘Kiwiana’ look you see a lot these days, and they liked how the expressive cute doodles portrayed the arts. I looked around their office for ideas and I was really inspired by Paul’s Creative Waikato map illustration that’s on their wall, I also googled a lot for reference material. If you look closely you can see a Moa, mountains, kowhai trees, a tui, a hot air balloon, the list goes on. I even snuck in a cow udder and a cheeky gumboot.
What results did this piece achieve? While creating this design I gained knowledge of working to a brief, but I also learnt how to express my creative style within the constraints. I learnt how to work closely with a signwriter which is something I had not done before. The idea of my designs driving around the Waikato was a little bit daunting at first but now that I can see it applied, it’s pretty cool.
Thanks to Kirstin McLachlan for sharing her learning experience with us and thanks to Creative Waikato for providing a challenging and productive creative internship for one of our students.
You can find out more about the course credit you gain when you undertake an internship at Wintec on our website.
Despite falling short of success in secondary school, Caitlynn Wendt is close to completing a Bachelor of Media Arts (Communication) degree – and she has no intention of stopping there. A published poet and PR major, Caitlynn plans to take on a post-graduate honours programme in 2018, marking her fifth consecutive year as a Wintec student. When asked how she maintains such a highly motivated mindset in adulthood, the hard-working wordsmith credits one key factor: timing.
After struggling with personal trials in high school, Caitlynn’s enrollment at Wintec stemmed from newfound drive, which has continued to thrive over time. She recently gave us an insight into her eye-opening Media Arts journey, which has seen her partake in the groundbreaking Design Hub pilot and have her work professionally published.
What’s inspired you to pursue a degree in communication? Did you know you’d go down this path before starting your Introduction to Study course?
I’ve always had a strong passion for writing. Initially, I wanted to pursue journalism as a career, but I soon found that public relations and advertising attracted me more. I think either way you go in communications, there’s plenty of writing. So I got what I wished for – a future in writing.
Have you been set on pursuing PR since beginning the BMA or did you decide part-way through? What attracts you to PR as a career?
When I first started at Wintec I wanted to pursue journalism as a career. It wasn’t until the second year of my degree that I realised my passion was in PR and advertising. PR and advertising attracted me because of its creativity and diversity. In journalism, you investigate and write a story. In PR and advertising, you investigate and find creative ways to engage a specific audience – the fun part is figuring out how.
In journalism, you investigate and write a story. In PR and advertising, you investigate and find creative ways to engage a specific audience – the fun part is figuring out how.
You did not enjoy secondary school but you have gone from strength to strength in your tertiary education. Do you think this has made you a lot more determined to succeed academically and professionally now, as an adult?
When I was in high school, I was dealing with a lot of things. It was a difficult stage in my life and I think the timing just wasn’t right. When I decided to enrol at Wintec, I had realised that I could achieve my dreams. I was ready to chase them and determined to succeed. This time, the timing was right.
You became a published poet late last year when your piece ‘False Love’ featured in Issue 1 of Wintec honours project Emergent– do you believe studying for a communication degree has played a significant part in influencing your creativity and self-expression as a writer, or has this always come naturally to you? Has poetry long been a passion of yours?
Absolutely, I’ve always had a passion for writing and I’ve always practised that passion, but never pursued it until my degree. Through my degree, I’ve had opportunities to strengthen and share my writing on an academic and professional level. My creativity and writing have improved immensely and Wintec gave me an opportunity to share my work. This has encouraged my writing and made me realise that it’s worth sharing.
Combining your Introduction to Study course, the Certificate in Media Arts, and soon a Bachelor of Media Arts degree, you’ve essentially been studying at Wintec for four years – how have you maintained your drive and motivation?
I always thought I wasn’t good enough because I’ve had people tell me that I would never be successful. Ever since I realise that wasn’t true, I’ve lived with the idea of failure not being an option. Every time things got difficult, personally and academically, I reminded myself that failure wasn’t an option. I’ve made it this far because I realised this was a journey I had to do on my own. I told myself every day that failure wasn’t an option. I sacrificed my personal life to succeed, and I praised myself with every accomplishment to encourage the next one.
I told myself every day that failure wasn’t an option. I sacrificed my personal life to succeed, and I praised myself with every accomplishment to encourage the next one.
Tell me about your experience being a part of the pilot Wintec Design Hub. What did your individual role entail?
The Wintec Design Hub was an amazing experience, both academically and personally. I’ve grown so much through the Design Hub. It has given me the confidence to approach industry professionals, and the passion to believe in myself.
I’ve grown so much through the Design Hub. It has given me the confidence to approach industry professionals, and the passion to believe in myself.
As a Media Arts student, I helped my team with research and interviews, and understanding audiences when creating personas. There were a lot of creative thinking exercised in the Design Hub, and I think my experience in media arts suited those activities. The Design Hub began with the goal of becoming part of the Global Network in the long run – it just happened a lot sooner than expected. I’m absolutely thrilled the Design Hub has now received an invitation to become New Zealand’s first Design Factory. The staff and students worked so hard and deserve this. Being accepted into the Global Network opens so many doors to the future for Wintec. It has been a truly rewarding experience to be a part of, and I encourage students from across Wintec to enrol.
With just one semester to go until you’re officially qualified, do you feel you’re almost ready to leave the student nest? Does your excitement outweigh your nerves at this point?
I still feel like I have a lot more to learn, even after four years, and I strongly believe in continually expanding my knowledge. I think there’s still one chapter left in my Wintec journey, and I plan to continue this chapter through to Media Arts Honours. I am extremely excited to begin my communications career. I wouldn’t say that I’m nervous. I think the last four years have prepared me in every way possible. The excitement outweighs everything. I can’t wait.
I think the last four years have prepared me in every way possible. The excitement outweighs everything. I can’t wait.
What’s been the best or most rewarding aspect of life as a Media Arts student?
I like the hands-on, practical approach. In Media Arts, you get a real experience that prepares you for the professional world. One of the best things about Wintec is knowing we’re fully supported all the way, and that makes anything possible. The most rewarding thing about media arts is that they celebrate everything – no work goes unnoticed. Whether it’s Communications, Visual Arts, Graphic Design or Music, every semester they remind you that you have something to be proud of.
No work goes unnoticed. Whether it’s Communications, Visual Arts, Graphic Design or Music, every semester they remind you that you have something to be proud of.
Thinking long-term, where do you see (or want to see) your degree taking you in the industry?
I enjoy getting to know people as much as I enjoy writing, and I enjoy being a part of a team. Ideally, I’d like to work within a project team or in a leadership role within the community. I am also quite interested in not-for-profit organisations and the government. My end goal is to be a part of a change and ideally lead that change. I’m open-minded and anything is possible.
Do you have a piece of advice to offer our prospective BMA Communication students?
Don’t give up – ever. The first stage of the degree can feel like it’s too much, but it’s completely worth it. The reward always outweighs the sacrifice. Keep pressing on, you’re far greater than you ever thought.
Thank you Caitlynn, for sharing your Media Arts journey with us. Find more information about Wintec’s Bachelor of Media Arts (Communication) here.
After finishing her secondary school studies at Morrisville College, Etana Zaguri raced off to learn the craft of graphic design in the studios of Media Arts, Wintec.
In her third year of study, Etana successfully applied for an intern position at AREA Design. During her internship, she’s been an integral part of this year’s Spark Festival design process. This diverse and inspiring learning experience has made a lasting impression on Etana’s creative practice and professional outlook toward the graphic design industry.
Where are you from originally? Did you study design in secondary school?
I’m from Morrinsville. I took all arts in High School and wanted to do art but then by the third year I didn’t do an art portfolio because I was just over it. It wasn’t what I wanted to do.
Graphics wasn’t available in my school; it was more architecturally focused.
How did you find out about Media Arts?
One of my friends was doing painting and sculpture at Media Arts, and I would always ask her about it and how it was going. She said that I would love it.
What has been the most significant part of your time here at Media Arts?
I think that teachers make a big impact!
Can you describe a typical graphic design lesson?
We will often sit down at the front of the classroom, and our teacher will give us a tutorial. We would then go back to our computers in pairs or by ourselves and to work through the task, or skills we had learnt from the tutorial.
How did you get this internship with AREA design?
In the January holidays, my tutor Luke emailed me about an internship opportunity that had come up. If we wanted to do it, we were to let Luke know to then come in to do an interview. Yeah, I came in to do an interview, and then after meeting with Alan, he decided to give me a chance.
What did you first do in your internship role?
I did research.
Was it different from studying?
It was similar; I looked at visual, then type and layouts.
What skills have you developed during your internship?
Indesign, I know a lot more about that program. A few new photoshop skills like layers, to extend backgrounds and CMYK quad-tones.
How have you found juggling the Internship and your study at Media Arts?
It’s been good, at the start I came in a couple of times while I was doing my assignments. But I nearly completed the whole thing in the Semester break.
Would you recommend other students to take up an internship opportunity?
Yeah, definitely! You get the knowledge of what happens in the real world, whereas when you are given a brief at tech, you have a lot more options compared to the reality.
A massive thanks go out to Etana for her contribution to the Spark Festival design. See it for yourself on our Spark Festival website.
Thanks to AREA design for imparting your wisdom onto our students and allowing them to gain significant insight into the graphic design industry.
We pride ourselves on being connected with the creative industry in the Waikato region, find out more about our internship opportunities here.
Soon-to-be interior design graduate and mother-of-three Tonga Robertson leads a busy life, but she knows exactly what she wants to achieve, and believes her family plays a big part in motivating her to strive for success.
I caught up with Tonga in her home to chat about what’s driven her to pursue a career in the Media Arts industry, and the exciting projects she’s been working on as an intern. Tonga shares a few pearls of wisdom about keeping both eyes on the prize, as a student and mother with a dream to collaborate and create.
What inspired you to pursue a career in interior design?
I wanted to do something creative, but I’m also a real people person – I love working with people. A few years back I initially thought I’d get into something like midwifery or nursing, but I kind of knew I always wanted to do something creative on the side. Interior design has that good combination of working with people – clients, tradies, and others in the industry – as well as having that creative outlet. I wanted to do something creative, but I’m also a real people person – I love working with people
For those who know little about the industry, what exactly does interior design involve?
Traditionally, a lot of people thought that interior designers would just go in and make someone’s house really pretty – which makes me cringe because we do way more than that!
An interior designer will work alongside say a client or a builder, or maybe an architect or engineer, and an architect will do a drawing for a new house, for instance. As an interior designer, I will design the interior space of it all – what the kitchen will look like, what sort of benches will go in the kitchen, what the cupboards will look like – I will also design the flooring, the furniture and where things are placed inside the house. You can also get into other aspects of styling, joinery, textile and commercial design. It’s such a varied job, and that makes it really fun, because you can find something that might be your niche and you can do that and make money. I think that’s why I love interior design so much; it’s such a varied field. It’s an awesome career.
I think that’s why I love interior design so much – it’s such a varied field.
When you graduate and enter the industry do you see yourself working for a company or on your own as a freelancer?
Once I finish studying full-time, for me the dream is to be my own boss and start up my own interior design company. In saying that, I still feel like I’ve got so much more to learn – so my ideal outcome once I’ve finished studying is to work for somebody part-time, and still be able to build up my own design business on the side. I’m getting so many opportunities at the moment that it’s really promising.
Can you tell me about the projects you’re currently interning for?
At the moment, I’m working for a local builder here in Hamilton, and his business has exploded. The current job I’m working for with him is a new build out in Greenhill. The house is about 300 sq. m, it’s a relatively big house. I’m designing this cabin-log house inspired home, and the client has some really interesting quirks. He has a statue he’s made of his deceased wife, which he’s asked me to design a stand for,
and it’s located in a special area in the house. That’s really cool, you don’t often get to build a shrine for somebody.
I’m working on another project for a client in Whatawhata. They’ve got a garage that was converted into a flat and they’re wanting to turn it into a B&B. It’s a full interior fit-out – new kitchen, new bathroom, new flooring and walls – and then for the main house for the same client, we’re looking at putting in a new kitchen, new bathroom, new floors and slightly changing the floor-plan so we can put in doors that open up to a deck.
Also, the builder I’m working with has a container house project, which is really cool because I’m into sustainable living. I also love the idea of living in a small space because it really challenges you to live with just what you need, and it helps you get rid of the excess that we can often consume in this time. So, I’m working on a container house project where I guess the challenge is trying to fit what you need into such a small, narrow space. That’s really fun, I’m really loving that at the moment.
What has it been like studying full-time with a young family?
Studying full-time with a young family is a lot of work. I’m really grateful that I’ve got an amazing husband who’s very supportive. Often on crazy end of the semester, I’d pick up the kids, drop them off, my husband would feed them and bathe them and I’d be going straight back to school to keep working on assignments. The great thing is that I know what I want to do and I haven’t got time to muck around. I’ve got a family that relies on me, so it ends up becoming my motivation, and it gives me the perseverance to get it done.
If you could give a piece of advice to someone who’s in a similar position to yours, with a young family and a creative ambition, what would that be?
I think it’s essential to understand what it is that you want because that gives you so much more motivation and conviction to go out and get it. When you’re in-between it’s tough to focus on something and get it done, especially when pressure and deadlines come at you. I think you should find something that you’re passionate about, find something that you’re gonna love, and do it. There’s always going to be sacrifices, but just understand that the dream – if it is a dream – is worth chasing.
I think it’s vital to understand what it is that you want because that gives you so much more motivation and conviction to go out and get it.
The studying time is only a short season, and there is an end to it. The end opens up a wide range of possibilities. To me, that’s the dream – finishing this course and looking at my options. Keeping that dream in your mind while you’re going through the assignments, the deadlines, the expectations, and the pressure – keep reminding yourself of that dream, and that will hopefully push you toward the finish line.
A big thank you to Tonga, for sharing her time and thoughts. Find more information about Wintec’s Diploma in Interior Design here.
Having finished her Science degree majoring in Psychology in Wellington, Ruby wondered, what’s next? She yearned for a job with more creativity. After moving back to her hometown of Hamilton she searched for a course that would allow her to pursue her writing passion. Ruby enrolled in Wintecs’ Diploma in Journalism, a full-time 1-year course at Media Arts and began training as a writer and journalist from day one. As part of the intern programme atMedia Arts Ruby has worked at Hamilton News and is currently placed at the Waikato Times.
Read on to learn more about Ruby’s story. She discusses her experience at Media Arts and life as a student in her hometown, along with some career advice to those seeking a new direction.
Can you describe your educational background, what are your previous qualifications?
Straight after high school at Hamilton Girls’ High, I moved to Wellington where I completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology with a minor in English Literature at Victoria University. I had intended to study post-graduate Psychology too.
Can you tell us about what you are studying at the moment, what attracted you to this course?
I’m studying the National Diploma of Journalism with Wintec, which is a one-year course full of practical and relevant experience.
Before that, I was pretty chuffed to score a dull but (relatively) well-paid job at a bank. But despite being surrounded by a bunch of cool colleagues I ended up utterly miserable there. It was a bit of a dead-end job and I wanted a career. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but knew that I wanted it to involve writing because it’s what I love to do. I started fantasizing about a career in journalism and the more I thought about it, the more impossible it became not to do just go ahead and do it. My family lives in Hamilton so I just googled Hamilton courses, applied and taa-da!
After living in Wellington for four years, you have moved back to Hamilton to live, has this been a good move? Can you tell us why?
It has been an incredible move and I’m back in my hometown which is awesome. I’ve moved back in with my Mum so I’m very lucky there. Quitting my job and studying journalism is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. Even though I’m studying, I already feel like a journalist and I feel like I’m finally doing something that gets me excited week to week. The course is so practical, dynamic and you get to meet a lot of interesting people! It’s been an exciting taste of what a career in journalism would be like. It’s such a cliché but seriously – life is too short. Do something that pushes your buttons.
It’s such a cliché but seriously – life is too short. Do something that pushes your buttons.
You are midway through your diploma, can you describe Media Art’s approach to teaching and learning? How has it worked for you and your learning style?
I love, love, love Media Art’s teaching style. At Uni, it was a lot of theoretical stuff, a lot of essay writing and exams. Here, I already feel like what I’m studying to be, I already feel like a journalist. It’s very practical and everything is designed to introduce you to the career that you want. The teachers are genuinely determined to help you be the best you can be and they help you with your individual goals, rather than just ticking off general course requirements. And our entire class is so supportive of one another, we all just want to see each other do well.
Also – it doesn’t feel like we’re just being taught to be standard journalists. We’re being taught to be top-notch, five-star, ace journalists. It has been challenging…but worthwhile things need to be challenging! To be honest- I would say I’ve been challenged more in these last four months than in my entire three-year university degree.
Can you tell us your most enjoyable experience on the course so far?
Hmmm that’s a hard one. I really enjoyed profiling this inspiring volunteer as one of our course assignments. She was just such a quality human being and it felt like a privilege to write about someone like that. It was also a standout because it taught me that literally everyone has a story and my job needs to be to dig up the ones worth telling.
Is it true that your grandfather collects clippings of all your published articles?
Yes. I hadn’t got my hands on any copies of my published stories at one stage, although Gramps had mentioned that he had seen them in the paper. He was in the hospital a few weeks ago and I was in his room picking up clothes for him when I stumbled across this noticeboard in there covered in a bunch of clippings of my articles! It was a warm fuzzy moment.
Can you describe how it feels to have your work published given that you are still learning your craft? Does this help you develop your skills faster, does is keep you more engaged?
It gives you such a high to see your own stories on a news site or in the paper. It’s also very encouraging and it’s way easier to stay engaged when I know there’s a chance that my course work could make it to a bigger platform. It does mean there’s some extra pressure on the quality and standard of reporting which of course, can’t be a bad thing. Working to an actual publishable standard half the year in (although credit where it’s due, we’re lucky to have supportive editors at Wintec that talk us through any screw ups) emboldens me. It gives me confidence that I’m chasing a career that I could do well in if I put in the hard yards.
Also – it doesn’t feel like we’re just being taught to be standard journalists. We’re being taught to be top-notch, five-star, ace journalists.
Where do you hope to be 2-3 years from now?
Studying psychology has left me with some interest in health so I’d love to score a job specialising in health reporting. I’d also love to be a feature writer. Long term I hope to be an “in-demand” freelance feature writer with jobs coming out of my ears!
Finally, can you describe the culture at Media Arts using five keywords:
Mark Peter has been a Media Art student for four years. In that time he’s developed skills in design, motion graphics, painting and sculpture to name a few.
Mark was a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia and spent five months in China attending Chengdu University as part of Wintecs’ tertiary exchange programme. Mark says his experience in China regularly influences his creative practice – he’s inspired by Chinese culture, architecture and the city’s prolific construction.
His work combines a set of ideas that explore shape, line and distortion using a variety of standard, readily available materials. Mark is submitting his final body of work for his Media Arts Degree and ending on a high note with his exhibition, “A Rhombus Is My Favourite Crooked Square,” showing at SkinRoom Gallery. (Open 20-22 June)
You received the Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia to attend Chengdu University in China last year, can you tell us what you did there and the length of the student exchange?
I was in China for five months, and there were six of us. We were students of Chengdu University in their Design and Art centre. There were Chinese language classes that we also attended. The hardest thing for me was keeping up with the busy schedule at the school, and there was a class every day. We worked alongside Chinese students, who focused on a lot of digital art, illustration, product and print based design.
How did you find the tutors at Chengdu University, was the language barrier a challenge?
The teachers did help us, they took us on field trips and took us to see local artists. One teacher was an award winning local artist, well known in the province, it was pretty cool to be taught by her. We took Chinese language classes so that helped with the language barrier.
Where did you stay when you were attending Chengdu University?
We got lucky, and we stayed in these teachers apartments that were in a 30 story building. It was neat to experience living in an entirely different way. The architecture and housing are completely different to New Zealand’s.
Your trip to Chengdu University in China marked a turning point in the way you have been making art, can you describe how that came about?
I was messing around with what little materials I had, paper and cheap acrylics. I started playing around with mark making using one continuous line, and the Chengdu University tutors liked it.
The work in this show (A Rhombus Is My Favourite Crooked Square) is the first body of work that has been inspired by my surroundings. When I was visiting China, I was alarmed with the continuous construction happening over there. Everywhere we went there was construction, building, loud hammering and development. I liked that I was drawing inspiration from my environment and not by using an artist model.
It started with this idea of objects and distorting the perspective, is it square or is it not square?
From the works on paper I began experimenting with objects and changing the perspective, is it square or is it not square? If I can distort this in the painting, then I can modify the frame as well. I had a set of ideas that continuously had me exploring different ways of working and using different materials. How much can I warp this to turn this into a new shape? During the process, none of my canvases matched up, but I embraced the organic process of making which has ended up with some surprising outcomes where some delicate curves in the canvas have formed.
What is the most memorable experience you have taken away from your student exchange trip to China?
It’s always difficult to pinpoint the ‘yay’ moment; I think the most challenging thing was the travel, you have to plan your day thoroughly beforehand to get from one space to another, this is something I learnt the hard way! At the end of our study, we had a week to explore, and I planned a trip to fly to another city by myself to visit a friend I had met in Chengdu. Yeah, you’ve got to be early, I missed both my flights there and back, it was a learning curve. But luckily at this point, I had enough Chinese vocabulary to order food and find my way around. The surprising thing to me was that a lot of Chinese locals new basic English they helped me out a lot.
Would you recommend other students to embark on a student exchange to Chengdu University?
Totally, everyone should do it! It gets you out of your comfort zone. I loved it, it was cool – but prepare for loud jackhammers through the night. During my first week back from China in Hamilton, everything seemed so small and quiet.
You submitted your last project for your Media Arts Degree, can you tell us what’s next? Have you come to the end of this Rhombus idea?
No never, never. New clay works are in the mix, the clay, terracotta work in this show sold instantly, so I am going to develop more work of this nature. I would love to consider myself as part of the creative boost that is happening in Hamilton right now. Things are happening and changing here, and it’s exciting to be a part of that.
A Rhombus Is My Favourite Crooked Square by Mark Peter Open 20 June until 22 June Skinroom Gallery Level 1, 123 Commerce Street, Frankton, Hamilton
Big thanks to Mark for meeting with us to discuss his creative practice and experience at Chengdu University, China. We wish you all the best Mark, and we look forward to seeing what you create next!
Find out more about the Chengdu University student exchange experience with Wintec here.
Inspired by Marks creative journey? Read more about studying at Media Arts Wintec here.
When practitioners from different disciplines and areas of focus come together, new ideas are sparked and innovative works of art are created. Joe Citizen is a Media Arts tutor at Wintec and a local Hamilton artist with an interest in connecting technology with Mātauranga Māori and the environment. His current venture, The Matariki Interactive Waka Project, is a collaborative work that has been developed through an interdisciplinary approach working with many different learning and research areas within Wintec and the wider Waikato community. Read on as Joe shares advice and recommends specific strategies when involved in project based collaborative practice.
Can you tell us about your latest collaborative project?
I’m working to make a 6.15m corten plate steel interactive waka that will use an environmental sensor network to trigger sound and lighting changes. As the artist, I’m one of many partners working with Wintec’s Māori Achievement office to make it a permanent public art work at Hamilton’s Ferrybank park, beside the Waikato river. The project combines students from across Engineering, Trades, Early Childhood Education and Media Arts, with external stakeholders like Longveld, ACLX, Hamilton City Council, and mana whenua.
Have you found collaborating with others helps your creativity? Have you enjoyed the process, why?
This idea that creativity is a solitary pursuit is not at all helpful – working together to make something happen is a way of making big things happen. Being part of something bigger than myself is immensely rewarding, as it means I have to constantly challenge myself to come up with what works for the whole project – so yeah, it’s a really creative process. Enjoyment is probably harder to define as there are times when being challenged and challenging myself is less than ‘enjoyable’ – but in the end it’s the best, because it means I’ve really given something my all, and there’s nothing better than sitting back and going ‘wow’, I was a part of that.
Working together to make something happen is a way of making big things happen.
Do you have any practical/technical tips when working on a collaborative project?
Good communication skills are probably the number one thing that will make or break a project, and I don’t mean the ability to be understood so much – although that’s important as well – but constantly being on to it, establishing those lines of communication right at the start, being organised, finding ways to ensure that you’re all on the same page by checking in with each other. I’d say the most important thing is face to face communication skills – people like people who are confident, smile, seem genuinely interested and do what they say they are going to do. Actually that last one is the most important – do what you said you were going to, but don’t be afraid of rolling with changes so that it becomes its own thing in the world, which is not the same as ‘your’ thing.
Can you identify any specific methods of communication that make collaboration easier?
Face to face is important but we also exist in a digital world, and it’s crucial to recognise that different people have their preferred mediums. There is no point posting something on Facebook if the people you’re working with only do that for their personal lives, or have opted out. Despite people talking about the ‘death of email’ it’s still the means by which most businesses operates, so knowing how to write a good email – the right tone, the right subject description, the right ending etc – these are things no-one teaches but are essential in making a collaborative project happen. And something that took me a long time to learn – never, ever, write an email or post when you’re angry. Whatever you’re feeling is one thing, but sleep on it and come back to it later – for once you send it out there it exists forever..
Collaboration isn’t just a working practice, it’s also an immensely powerful strategy to make goals a reality.
The other essential thing is getting your kaupapa right – not just what your goals are, but having working agreements about how you will do something. It’s all very well having a great set of goals if you haven’t taken into account that we all work differently, are motivated by different things, have different philosophies, or understand different things even when we say the same words. Being open to ways that are different to how you would ‘normally’ do things is key – it’s not really a method then, it’s more of an attitude.
Collaborating can be tricky as there may be more restrictions and compromises when working with someone on a project, what strategies do you use to overcome issues like these?
Great question! Every project has times when things go off the rails or you feel like it’s not working out. Having your own sense of integrity and being honest with others becomes critical – both for your own sense of wellbeing but also so people know where you are coming from. This said, timing is also important! Be patient, and try to see things from other people’s perspectives. An underestimated skill is learning how to listen to others – not just what they say and how they say it, but what they don’t say, or what’s missing in a conversation with them. Sometimes we can become blind to what others have to contribute because they feel they didn’t have an opportunity to be heard. Finding ways to make this happen, even if it means employing quite artificial structures like a ‘talking stick’ approach means we can concentrate on what’s actually important – finding solutions to overcome the current problem.
Also – and this is absolutely critical – remember that there is always another way of doing things. Sometimes we let the restrictions overwhelm us, but if all else fails, make that obstacle or restriction a feature. Turn those negatives into positives.
How have you found people to collaborate with? Do you have any advice for people who want to get more involved in this way of working?
People are attracted to ideas, so get those ideas out there! I often make drawings and a small one to two descriptive paragraphs of a project idea, then send them out to people who I think might be interested – who I’ve met through all sorts of connections. For me, the basic skill is face to face communication, but I’ve worked with a number of people whose primary skill is writing, and this too is very effective. The other important thing is time – which most people have a limited supply of, so find ways in which your collaborative partners can time-shift, or work together to find mutually helpful solutions.
In the arts and elsewhere, it’s people who come first, and if you work together then anything is possible.
Do you have any other thoughts and comments about collaboration in the Arts?
Leave your ego at the door, the project comes first. Once you get that, everything else falls into place.
I also want to say something about money. It seems to me that a lot of people think things can’t be done without money, or conversely, they will happen if you have it. In my experience, neither of these things are true by themselves. Giving people the opportunity to contribute is actually a more powerful thing to do, and this only happens if you respect people and their ways of doing things. You can be at the top end or the bottom end, but if you don’t have respect, or give it, then there’s only a limited amount of things that will be achieved. Don’t ever let money, or lack of it, be a reason why you didn’t try something different.
Collaboration isn’t just a working practice, it’s also an immensely powerful strategy to make goals a reality. In the arts and elsewhere, it’s people who come first, and if you work together then anything is possible. The opposite is true too -you’re only as good as your reputation. If you stuff up then take responsibility, and try and to make it right as soon as you can.
Finally I’d say this – take more risks! Nobody ever did anything interesting in the arts by playing it safe.
A massive thanks to Joe Citizen for sharing your words of wisdom on this pivotal topic.
Find details on Joe’s current collaborative venture The Matariki Interactive Waka Project here.
Find out more about The school of Media Arts interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to teaching and learning here.
Graphic designers, illustrators and artists from around the globe are experiencing a Risograph renaissance. The Risograph allows makers to quickly duplicate a high volume of layered prints in an affordable and environmentally friendly way – it’s a great alternative to more conventional duplication methods such as laser printing and photocopying. We caught up with former Media Arts graduate, Craig McClure, at the 2017 Hamilton Zine Festival and asked him about his newest purchase – a Risograph printer. Read on to discover what it’s all about.
What do you like about using the Risograph printer to create work? The Riso is still really new to me so I am still playing around and testing things. I do love the tactile nature of it, plus you get your hands a bit dirty. The machine is pretty old so you have to get in there to make it work; inevitably you end up with ink on your hands, that is soon all over the machine, and even gets transferred to your prints in finger print form, all part of the charm. Also the quality of the print is really unique. The surface of the ink is more like thin paint than toner ink, it has a really nice quality to it. Oh, and finally, it’s really loud. A drum has to spin over the paper as it fires through at high speed… I like it for lots of reasons.
The surface of the ink is more like thin paint than toner ink, it has a really nice quality to it.
Has anything surprised you about printing with the Riso? The speed! It can print up to 120 sheets per minute. I haven’t had much of an excuse to print anything in large quantities yet, but look forward to it. It’s really satisfying to see it churn out a whole stack.
Also the quality of the print. For an old-boy he’s still got it!
Can you go through the process of printing with a Risograph?
There are 3 main aspects involving a scanner strip or scanner bed in the bigger models, a banana paper master (very much like a screen in screen printing) and soy based ink fed through a drum.
1. You feed your image through the scanner strip (limited to B4 on my model) and this burns the image onto the master (screen) which is applied to the surface of the drum.
2. Before scanning you can play with the contrast levels and some other line or photo settings for a range in quality. It then spits out a test print for you.
3. You are then ready to print! The ink is fed through the screen on the drum which spins over the paper as it fires through the printer (literally it fires out the other end).
A drum has to spin over the paper as it fires through at high speed. It can print up to 120 sheets per minute.
Can you share any future ideas you have for using the printer? The unique limitation with the Riso is that for a second colour, you require a new master (just like screen printing layers). Right now I have 2 printers with 1 extra colour drum. I am still sourcing different inks so that I can do multiple layer prints, that’s my main goal right now. Also with sharing the printer at Zinefest some potential collaborations with a local illustrator and a local graphic designer have been born. So I’m looking forward to exploring those opportunities.
Any other thoughts on Risograph printing? I have a CR1610 model, if anyone has any ink or colour drums or parts in general, let me know, I am interested!
A huge thanks to Craig McClure for taking us through the Risograph printing process and for sharing his work with us at the 2017 Zine Festival! Learn more about Risoprintinghere.