10 Best Creatives from New Zealand

At Shillington, we love to celebrate great design and share projects from creatives around the world. We’ve covered the work of many studios so far. Up next? The country of the All Blacks and some of the world’s most incredible landscapes—New Zealand.

The Māori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, meaning ‘the land of the long white cloud’, and the breathtaking island nation—30% of which is forest—has been inspiring creatives for a long time. Both the North and South Islands have an abundance of creatives, studios, illustrators, animators making it a design destination in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We’ve chosen ten of the best from across the disciplines to show the amazing work being created in one of the world’s least populated countries.

1. AKIN

Based in the city of Auckland, on New Zealand’s North Island, AKIN is a strategic design studio co-founded by designers Tana Mitchell and Emma Kainuk. Their work aims to grab people’s attention and hearts and they achieve this through creating engaging brands with memorable type, eye-catching colour and gorgeous illustration. Their design for All Good Switchell, a collaboration with illustrator Natasha Vermeulen, is all these things—and we love it!

2. Seachange

Also based in Auckland, Seachange are an award-winning design and branding studio—they work across everything from digital design to naming and everything in between. Keeping themselves intentionally small doesn’t stop Seachange creating a big impact—their brands stand out for a whole variety of different reasons. One such brand is Ghost Street Dumplings, a pop-up dumpling, which used the company’s name very literally combined with a cute illustration to create a wonderful, memorable brand.

3. Tyrone Ohia

Born of Ngāti Pūkenga (a Māori Iwi) descent in Tauranga, a harbourside city on the North Island, Tyrone Ohia works as a Creative Director in Tāmaki Makaurau (the Māori name for Auckland). Ohia believes that design is for the people and this is strongly reflected throughout his work. His project for the Museum of New Zealand Te Pape Tongarewa reflects on the fact that the Māori and English languages share the same alphabet and words through the word ‘TAKE’. He designed simplistic, yet beautiful, cards with the word simply printed on there for people to take away and consider the similarities between the two languages.

4. BrandAid

BrandAid is a brand development and design agency based in Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island. The award-winning agency’s creative director Luke Johnston has over 19 years experience in the industry—and founded BrandAid 15 years ago. They’ve worked with a huge range of clients, including their home city but it was this reusable packaging for Bay Rd Peanut Butter—which employs striking typefaces to make the look as good as it is for the planet.

5. Curious

Another Auckland-based agency, Curious specialises in design and brand strategy. Working with their motto ‘Good design is simple—that’s why it’s so hard to get right. It helps that we’ve been practising constantly since 1998’, Curious work closely with their clients to create the best work possible. Their project for health food brand Amino Mantra combined quirky illustrations from Curious’ in-house illustrator Curtis Walker and a gorgeous colour palette to create the kind of packaging you just want to grab off the shelf.

6. Phoebe Morris

Phoebe Morris is a illustrator from New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. Since graduating in 2013, Morris has worked with companies like Google, Penguin Books and Kiwibank—illustrating for, to name a few, apps, websites, packaging, publications and shipping containers. The last was what made us especially fall for Morris’ work—she was commissioned by Wellington City Council in September 2018 to paint local birds on shipping containers on the city’s waterfront. They depict the cute critters in a number of activities that visitors can take part in at the waterfront.

7. Frances Haszard

Frances Haszard is an animator from Auckland who creates alluring, quirky and often outright weird animations. She’s worked on music videos for musicians like Two Door Cinema Club and drummer Julien Dyne. Though Haszard often using dazzling colours and 3D graphics in her work, we were struck by her animation for Hera Lindsay Bird’s ‘Children are the Orgasm of the World’—which, instead, uses simple black line animation on a white background to striking effect.

8. Pete McDonald

Pete McDonald is a Christchurch-based freelance designer, illustrator and animator who has created a massive and massively varied body of work. He’s worked with some of the biggest companies in the world including Google, Nike, Converse, Sundance Film Festival and Coca Cola. Though, it was this illustration from his work for Unicef East Africa Appeal that caught our eye—pattern, colour and shape are combined to make this illustration an absolute treat for the eyes!

9. Klim Type Foundry

Founded in 2005 by Kris Sowersby, a New Zealand typeface designer, Klim Type Foundry is a type foundry based in Wellington. The world-renowned type foundry produces custom typefaces for businesses around the world, retail typefaces and custom lettering and logotypes. We love his typeface Geograph—a typeface designed for National Geographic as part of their rebrand in 2016. It’s a contemporary, plain sans serif that is made up of 24 different styles that the company uses across their broadcast, print and web channels.

10. Salted Herring

Salted Herring, based in Wellington, is a digital design consultancy and agency who specialising is SaaS (Software as a Service for those who don’t know!) who specialise in digital products. They not only develop identities and create websites for brands—they do UX design, UI design, data visualisation, strategy, front end development and loads more. Kōkako is an app that measures the use of the Māori language on the radio across the country, Salted Herring delivered the strategic creative, visual identity, UX and UI design and the front end development. The app combines cutting edge technology, created by Dragonfly Data Science, and contemporary design to promote the country’s first language.

Feeling inspired? Check out our #ILoveTheseGuys series to discover more creative studios from around the world! Or become a graphic designer yourself—study design in three months full-time or nine months part-time in London, Manchester, New York, Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne with Shillington.

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