As a graphic designer, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that the more outside inspiration that goes into the creative process – the better the creative output. 

This means the more collaboration, teamwork, and communication I have with my clients and colleagues, the better the final design will be. Being curious, open to what’s going on in the world and being on the lookout for inspiration and insights also helps me come up with better ideas.

After a weekend of enjoying and performing at the Cuba Dupa festival in Wellington, I’m struck by how dancing makes me a better designer for my clients.

How does being a member of the Brazillian samba band – Wellington Batucada help me design better?

Fundamentally, it puts my values of teamwork, bringing a positive attitude, creativity and building a community into action. All this positivity, noise, colour and energy feeds the brain and gets me into a creative state of mind.

Collaboration – the  key to success

With around 100 members, Wellington Batucada must work together as a team to achieve our director’s vision while accommodating individual requirements and the practical restrictions of the festival venue. Each player and dancer work together to create a memorable performance that is greater than anything we could achieve by ourselves.

When working on a design project, it’s essential to work closely with the client to understand their vision and goals. Working with their limitations of time, scope or budget and being open to feedback, suggestions and ideas helps create a product that everyone is proud of.

Bringing the bounce

A positive attitude goes a long way. As a designer, it’s important to approach every project with a positive and upbeat attitude. This means being friendly, responsive and reliable throughout the entire process. It means being pragmatic and realistic in the face of challenges and injecting some fun along the way. By bringing positive energy to the design process, we can create something great and enjoy the process.

The infectious energy created by a successful samba performance doesn’t happen by accident. It’s created by consistent rehearsals, being reliable and turning up consistently and a commitment by everyone involved to enjoy themselves and share that joy with our audiences.

Loving bright ideas

A big part of my enjoyment of being in Wellington Batucada is getting creative with our costumes. I love the chance to visualise what I’d like to create in my head, think through the practicalities, source the materials and then produce something tangible with my own hands. Energetic testing at full-speed-samba ensures that costumes won’t break, fall off or smack you in the face. If they do, changes are made. It’s the design process in action!

By taking a break from my usual digital working environment I get to experience new places, people, sights and ideas. This space gives me new perspectives that feed into my work. By being curious and creative, I can push the boundaries of what is possible and come up with better ideas for my clients.

Building community

I enjoyed Wellington Batucada long before I was brave enough to join and I’m so pleased I did. My favourite part of dancing in a community band, where everyone is welcome, is the sense of connection and community it creates. Particularly in parades, the energy we bring creates a feedback loop of engagement and enjoyment with our audiences.

As a designer, my job is to connect and communicate. I strongly believe in the value of building communities and that stronger connections help us all thrive. This is also why the networking group Chrysalis for Women is important to me, as it provides an environment where I can seek support and grow with other like-minded business owners. For me it means sharing knowledge and expertise as well as working together with others to create something that will make a positive difference.

I’m convinced that the more effort I put into having new and interesting experiences the better the designs I create for the people I work with. By engaging positively and actively with the world and those around me I generate more inspiration and ideas for my work. Let’s work together to create simple, thoughtful, effective designs that make a difference.

 

Photo credits: Cover image Satya Priyomarsono, PauloPicsNZ and Chris Mckeown

 

 

Are you starting a new business? Well, you’ll need a name then won’t you!

Starting a new business and think you’ve come up with the perfect name? How do you know it’s available to use and won’t cause you headaches in the future? Recently, one of my clients came to me for help with this and we worked through my five top tips:

1) Check the Companies Register:

The Companies Office provides a free online search facility where you can check if your potential business name is already registered.

2) Do a Google Search:

A simple Google search can help you see if there are any other businesses with a similar name operating in New Zealand (or is an established brand in international markets). This can help you avoid confusion with customers and potential legal issues.

3) Search the IPONZ Database:

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) provides a free database search where you can check if your potential business name has been registered as a trademark. This will help you avoid infringing on any existing trademark rights. They also have copyright, trade secret and patent information. www.iponz.govt.nz

4) Check for domain name availability:

In today’s digital age, having a website is essential for any business. It’s important to make sure the domain name (also known as your website address or URL) you want is available. Also, consider the length of your URL. Will it be difficult or confusing to spell out to potential clients on the phone? Will it be too long to fit easily on a business card? You can check domain names at the Domain Name Commission NZ (dnc.org.nz) or registrar websites like GoDaddy.com or Freeparking.co.nz

5) Finally, check the name or URL for unintended meanings:

When deciding on a domain name, it’s important to also check the URL for unintended meanings. For example, “woodskill.co.nz” can also be read as “woods-kill.co.nz“. It’s also worth testing out your name with trusted people or potential clients to make sure it doesn’t have any unintended connotations. The urbandictionary.com is a good place to double-check and avoid potential embarrassment in the future.

 

Remember, choosing the right business name is important for your branding and marketing efforts, as well as legal compliance. By following these tips, you can ensure that your potential business name is available and ready to use. Good luck with your business venture!

(Image by rawpixel.com)

 

 

Where to find authentic New Zealand stock photography

As it’s Te Rā o Waitangi – Waitangi Day this week (6 February) I thought I’d highlight five local stock libraries that might be useful.

We’ve all seen it. The generic stock photo of smiling professionals or the “general public” looks decidedly staged or from somewhere other than New Zealand. While It’s usually better to hire a professional photographer to capture bespoke images (especially specific subjects, places or people) the timeframe or budget often doesn’t stretch that far.

If you’re looking for something with a truly New Zealand flavour what are the options?

 

1) Truestock

“Exclusive, royalty-free local stock images capturing an authentic, diverse and multicultural Aotearoa.”

Starting at $40 for an XS image to $450 for an XL image, there are various discounts and alternative licenses available.*

Truestock offers a good range of authentic-looking meeting, school, shopping and farming images with a diverse range of kiwis.

 

 

2) Picky

“This is Picky – a growing collection of New Zealand stock and mockup images from top local photographers. Royalty-free & easy to use.”

Starting from $125+GST for online only use Picky offers a 12-month market freeze on an image as well as images that would only be used for internal presentations rather than commercial applications.*

Picky has a range of great range of mock-ups including posters, billboards, food and drink products, phones and apparel that you can add your designs to. Mock ups start from $80 +GST. These mock ups are intended for use in pitches, portfolio presentations and award applications so please check the restrictions.

 

 

3) My Chillybin

Want images showing a slice of NZ life? The most comprehensive range of NZ people and other images is right here at mychillybin.”

This library has been for around many years and most recently helped me find images of older people for a social housing brochure. Lots to look at here including some cultural images of marae, carvings, flax and kete.

Images are from $25 for small to $100 for large photographs. You can also buy credits, get a subscription or purchase an image exclusively.*

 

4) Excio

“New Zealand Image Library providing affordable access to fresh, authentic photographs based on Excio unique PhotoToken concept.”

Excio is a community-driven image library that works on a different model. They have a big membership of photographers and work with PhotoTokens for image buyers. It’s not a subscription but for $500 you can access 500 images in the first year, with ongoing access with an annual renewal fee.* This could be a great option to check out if you have a big project or an ongoing requirement for kiwi images. I know for definite they are real people because I spotted myself performing with my dancing group in Wellington!

 

5) NZ stock images.co.nz 

Royalty Free Stock Images and Videos from around New Zealand”

This is exclusively landscapes featuring photos and videos from a drones-eye-view. Locations include Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Tāupo, New Plymouth along with Bay of Plenty and Marlborough. So, a more specialized stock library, but a photo of Oriental Bay, Wellington or an atmospheric fly-by video of the Northland coast could be just what you were looking for (from $175 and $400 respectively).*

*Note: Prices mentioned are to give you a general idea of the options offered. Please check websites for exact prices and licensing options.    

I’d love to hear if you’ve found any other useful stock libraries out there.

Check out my other blog about other stock library options here.

 

Ka Kite, see you again

 

The Pukerua Bay Bookshed just had its 7th birthday. I’m delighted it’s been successful and (as you can tell from the picture on the right) is popular and packed with books.

While it was created as a fun family project and a community experiment, it also demonstrates something relevant to business.

A) Something simple can be a great success.

We got the basics right:

  • it’s visually appealing
  • it’s functional and the location works
  • it’s well-used and there is an engaged audience
  • it pretty much looks after itself

B) You can’t always rest on your laurels.

Out in the real world things change and updates are needed:

  • the window broke
  • the wind pulled the door apart
  • wet weather and rotten boards led to leaks
  •  the catch got stiff

C) Work out what needs to be done to keep providing a service.

Then deciding:

  • which jobs fit into your skill set (for me painting, roof maintenance and trading skills with others)
  • which jobs you need to outsource (in this case the carpentry)
  • who to ask (luckily for me friends and fellow community volunteers)

D) There may be the odd hiccup.

I could mention the painted bench seat that got stolen… but I’ll save that story for another day!

 

Painting practice.

This year I’m EXPLORING (more about that here). As a result, this weekend I’m selling some of my paintings at the local Market.

 

Pogo Bird Paintings

 

Painting is something I’ve come back to in the last couple of years (thank you Covid!). It’s a long time since art college and I’ve found approaching it as a fun “experiment” takes the pressure off. It’s great to get away from the computer screen and to literally get my hands dirty.

 

Unfortunately, like any creative endeavour, you need to be prepared to ride the creative wave. Sometimes it’s hard to start. Sometimes it goes really well and you feel awesome. Then nothing goes right, whatever you try looks rubbish and the only thing to do is scrub what you’ve done in a fit of frustration and stomp off for a break! It’s also quite exposing to put personal work out into the world.

 

Close up painting of Tui with red background

 

Luckily, this upcoming market day isn’t just about selling paintings. It ticks off some of my business/life values.

Especially

  • BRIGHTER IDEAS – powered by curiosity and creativity. Listening and asking questions feed focus and insight. Being creative outside of my 9-5 helps me consider new ideas – which is a bonus for my clients.
  • BUILD COMMUNITY – stronger connections help us all thrive. I believe no act of kindness is ever wasted and it’s good to share what I know. We’re all in this together and there’s space for everyone. We’re unique so why compete?

Pukerua Bay Market Day Logo Design

 

I’m all for supporting local initiatives which is why I helped make the Pukerua Bay Market Day logo for my friend and local business owner at Good Wool. It will also be an excellent opportunity to catch up with friends, and network with other creatives, small businesses and community groups.

I can’t wait!

(Cover photo credit: Debby Hudson, Unsplash)

Some years ago, I was involved in one of the first bilingual traffic signs in Aotearoa New Zealand for Porirua City Council. It got some media attention at the time and I’ve noticed that bilingual signage is becoming much more common.

 

Tree-lined suburban street with cars and a blue road sign with white words that read āta haere slow down

Porirua’s first bilingual road signs mark the streets around Takapuwahia Marae.

 

Some of the examples I’ve seen are council signage by Porirua City Council and Wellington City Council.

 

White pole with a blue sign against a bright blue sky

Porirua City Council signage in Pukerua Bay, Porirua.

 

Out of interest, I looked to see if there were any bilingual signage guidelines out there. I found that Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry of Māori Development have put out a resource called ‘Māori-English Bilingual Signage. A guide for best practice’.

Their objective for developing the bilingual signage guidelines is to “Increase the visibility of te reo Māori in public spaces within the government (central and local) extending to business sectors, and thereby increase the usage of te reo Māori in every day conversation.”

They say when developing bilingual signage the key principles are:

  • Responsive and accessible services
  • Visibility of language
  • Equality of language
  • Quality of language

Te Puni Kōkiri says that embracing te reo Māori and culture in everyday public life helps establish a shared national identity and builds goodwill and social cohesion within Aotearoa New Zealand. That it’s a good business practice as it can help build staff pride, morale, and loyalty.

 

“Bilingual signage also offers the opportunity for organisational development through building staff capability to speak te reo Māori, and therefore their ability to work with Māori communities, and to communicate and negotiate with a range of customers in diverse situations.”

 

Te Puni Kōkiri’s guide is based on international literature and the United Nation’s best-practice principles of bilingual and multi-lingual language planning guidelines adopted in policies and guidelines in many countries. They say “the typographic rules applying to bilingual signage as an internationally recommended standard shows the “first language” (the one being revived), i.e.
the Māori text is at least as large as the font for the English text even if the text in one language is longer. Further, if this is not practical in terms of the eye easily reading at a glance, then the Māori text should dominate. The rationale is that English is an international language that most people know and understand. Customers will, therefore, have little difficulty in navigating themselves towards a building or within its work-spaces, or websites.”

 

“It makes sense to have the Māori on top; that’s how we keep the language alive.” DEPARTMENT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS

 

Black panel painted on a white wall with the words wharepaku toilets and some toilet icons

Bilingual toilet signage in Arapaki Manners Library, Wellington City.

 

All great stuff but how exactly do we put that into practice? What does it look like?

Luckily TPK have distilled the main design points into a PDF.  I’ve listed their Do and Don’t points below.

 

Cream panel with various bilingual signs

Some tips taken from TPK’s “Design tips to support quality bilingual signage” PDF

Bilingual signage tips

DO:

  • Have the font for the Māori text at least as large as the font for the English, even if one text runs longer.
  • Use an equal typeface for the Māori and English.
  • Use the same font style for the Māori and English.
  • Apply colour coding to text and or language – separating background panel.
  • Be consistent in all signs with the same colour and position for each language.
  • Consider how a pictogram might reduce the amount of text required.
  • Place Māori first, either stacked or side by side.
  • If both Māori and English cannot be easily read because signage is ‘visibly biased’ consider having the Māori only.

DON’T:

  • Assign a heavier font or colour for English.
  • Apply a dominant visual style to English.
  • Use italics or symbols (– or /) to separate Māori and English.
  • Squash Māori to match English text.
  • Use CAPITALS to differentiate languages (e.g. CAPITALS and upper and lower case).
  • Double up on icons.

As always there is more to learn, and I look forward to putting these tips into practice.

 

Here are some of the resources I found that you might find useful:

 

 

 

 

Silhouette of person looking out to sea from a clifftop at dawn

EXPLORE: my ‘word of the year’ for 2022.

The concept of having a ‘word of the year’ is something I’ve played with for many years. Sometimes I’ve picked one and promptly forgotten all about it, but more recently I’ve been more intentional. For example:

 

2020 was ACCEPT…

which turned out to be prophectic. Covid-19 smashed the international plans I had and gave most small businesses a thorough shake-up. Working to accept the ongoing uncertainty definitely helped.

2021 was YES…

which led me to accept the opportunity to tramp the South Island section of ‘Te Araroa – the long pathway’, which I set out on in December.

Woman hiking through grasslands with backpack and walking poles

This segued seamlessly into 2022 being EXPLORE…

The first two months of 2022 were spent continuing to explore Aotearoa’s beautiful back country and completing my 75 day Te Araroa journey.

A footpath through beech trees covered in lichen with an orange triangle on one of the trees

 

“Exploration is curiosity put into action.” DON WALSH

 

Milestone year

2022 is also a milestone year for Pogo. This month I’m celebrating 15 years in business.
I’m very proud of reaching this point and appreciate the flexibility working for myself has afforded me and my family. I also have a wonderful support network of friends and fellow businesses that has brought opportunities and helped me grow and develop over the years (such as co-authoring a book). Chrysalis for Women has been a big part of that support.

But, I have missed the “creative soup” of working with other designers. With less demands on my time on the homefront, it’s been a perfect time to get out and explore what other creatives are up to in Wellington.

 

black poster frame on a white wall with black words on orange that say I like it what is it?

Exploring creative events in Wellington

Here are some of the events I’ve discovered in Wellington. I started with a free Creative HQ evening talk, which in turn has led to other events, meeting more people and finding out about other workshops, ideas and resources. It has required investing some time and a willingness to accept the potential awkwardness of a roomful of strangers. So far it’s been well worth the effort.

 

I’m excited to see where else these events will lead me how they will help shape Pogo.

Letter a with macron in different bright colours on a white background

Kia ora.

Te Reo Māori is the indigenous language of Aotearoa, New Zealand and one of three official languages of the nation. Its use is increasing in professional and everyday life. As a designer that means designing with fonts that can accommodate macrons as they are an integral part of the language.

I’m going to share some simple ways to find some macron enabled fonts to use in your designs.

I’ve made a quick video of some of the ways here.

Google Fonts

Google font homepage

This a great resource of all of the typefaces listed in the Google Fonts directory are open source. More info about the licence here.

On the home page you can add a word with macrons under ‘custom’ in the search bar. You can then see if the fonts available have macrons. Another option is to select ‘Latin Extended’ in the ‘Language’ button list. This should exclude most fonts that don’t have macrons.

Adobe Fonts (Typekit)

Screenshot of Adobe Font search window

If you’re using Creative Cloud you’ll know you can access Adobe Fonts. When searching in Adobe Fonts you can paste a word with macrons into the ‘Sample Text’ window. This will show a range of fonts and the ones that do not support macrons will have a crossed box replacing the macronised letters.

Screenshot of Indesign Glyph window

If you’re already in Indesign or Illustrator you can add or check whether the font you’re using has macrons by going to Window>Type>Glyphs and selecting ‘Entire Font’ in the ‘Select’ window. Scroll through to see if there are macrons. Double clicking on any of the letters will add them into a text box you have open.

Canva

 

screenshot of selecting different typefaces in Canva

If you’re using Canva, select a template or one of your existing designs. In a typebox paste a word containing a macron. With that typebox selected you can click on the typeface button in the top left of the editing banner which will open a window of different fonts. Most of the popular fonts accommodated macrons when I checked them. If they don’t there is a basic default font used.

It’s so great there are many macron enabled font options out there which makes it easier for designers to do the right thing! Here are a couple of other resources that I’ve also found useful.

Other useful resources:

Ka pai!

A hand holding a community garden fundraiser on a dark background.

In business, and in life, you’re often encouraged to consider your “Why”. This is the concept of having a purpose, belief or cause that is a driving force in what you do and how you do it. Simon Sinek describes the concept in this TED talk.

Like many simple ideas I found it easy to understand but much harder to define an answer for myself.

Over the years I’ve realised I get a sense of personal satisfaction and purpose from contributing to my local community and that I value community building. I’ve already talked about the benefits of this in a previous post.

 

Open calendar showing a photo of a bee on yellow flowers

Last year my local community garden group created a  community garden fundraiser and I contributed my design skills – on the understanding I would not need to be involved in the selling!

The project included photos, content and artwork from other collaborators (indio Anne) and support from our local Palmers Garden Centre and The Print Room.

 

Back of a calendar with a grid of photos showing the month images

It was a successful fundraiser and I enjoyed a creative project, the chance to play around with collage and experiment with making a promotional video in Canva.

 

A group of smiling people positioned around a hand painted sign that reads Pukerua Bay Community Garden and Food forest

But, what does a sense of community look like in the way I do business?
A lot of what I do professionally is about connecting and building relationships. Things like:

  • Working with organisations and businesses that want to build and connect with communities and make a positive difference.
  • Contributing to many clients teams, often over years.
  • Collaborating with other complementary businesses (and co-authoring a book).
  • Supporting business groups such Chrysalis for Women (sharing my knowledge through presentations and as an Advisory Board Member).
  • Attending workshops and presentations such as the Creative HQ series.
  • Donating my time and skills to initiatives that resonate with me.

I’d love to hear what motivates you.

Three file icons on a pink background with a question mark on the front of each file

Every now and then I’m asked; “Did you work on this?”

Each time, I’m reminded that the extra bit of effort required to number, name and file a job properly is worth it for those occasions when I’ll need to retrieve it.

Recently, I was asked this question about a project that had lots of iterations over the years… including a company name change. I didn’t have the job number, but I did know the client and the project name.

With a quick bit of digging, I found all the artwork files in the cloud and on archived DVDs. Turns out they were from 2012, 2014 and 2015.

I’ve been working with this client for 14 years and most, if not all, the staff have moved on. I was delighted that my archive provided a kind of outsourced ‘institutional knowledge’ storage system.

With staff turnover and different filing systems, sometimes clients will ask me to source a logo or photo they’re having trouble locating in-house. Or sometimes a project is being reprinted or updated.

Diagram showing the different parts of a file name

Whatever the reason, my job number, client code, description/keyword and date filing system hasn’t let me down yet!