Hi Erin and Gemma. Thanks for chatting with us! How are you both?
I’m good! Things are pretty busy at the moment. We’re lucky in New Zealand to still be able to go out and go to bars and socialise like normal.
I am very well, things have recently changed in Melbourne and we are finally able to leave the house, so a lot has improved. I’m feeling excited about summer and having a break over January. Work has been incredibly busy through the last six months of lockdown so rest and a beach getaway is well needed.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative practice?
I’m a freelance graphic designer working within a range of disciplines, mostly branding. Currently, I’m working with Studio South based in Auckland. I started my studies in 3D and product, eventually finding my passion in graphic design, though I still love to dabble in 3D where I can. Type is also a strong focus in my work, and I find a lot of inspiration in old books, records, and signage.
I strongly believe everyone should have a personal practice, doing something they are passionate about outside of work hours. I find this is the most exciting part of my day, and often where I will produce the most interesting work. Everyone’s perspectives and journeys are so different, and this shows through in the work.
I’m a freelance graphic designer working mostly in branding. I have a love of typography, and in the last couple of years, I have been exploring and developing custom type and typefaces. I released a typeface earlier this year and am hoping to release another by the end of the year – fingers crossed I find the time. Type is a strong focus in my practice, as I love the energy and tone of voice it can bring. Colour is also a dominant feature in my work. My practice is led with creative thinking and intention and I believe that design decisions need purpose and reason.
In saying that, I really enjoy my personal practice which is my Instagram that I treat like a journal and exploration of interest, inspiration and development. I believe that personal practice can be free from a clear purpose or a need to communicate, and can be created more for the creator like art. I believe that design can have a place as art.
How has COVID-19, or 2020 in general, impacted your creativity and mental wellbeing?
It has definitely been a wild ride. During our first and second lockdown, a lot of my bigger freelance projects were put on hold or pulled, and some of them never came back through. That was pretty disheartening for me, but in saying that I also had the biggest growth year in my career and personally.
I questioned my role as a designer, my work and the effect of what I was putting out into the world. I once heard that if you create more than you consume each day, it helps to create a stable mental state. Using the extra time at home to focus on myself, my yoga practice, cooking nourishing meals and spending time with my partner and flatmates has kept me sane and productive.
I don’t like working from home and feeling isolated, I really missed my little studio where I feel most at home!
It has been a pretty unbelievable year and I’m shocked that we have been in lockdown since March. I’m also surprised at how well I have adjusted and that I have learnt a lot about myself and my values. Before lockdown, my life was a little chaotic and cluttered, as was my mind. Through this time everything has been simplified and I’ve actually been content with that, and have found that I enjoy a lot of downtime and alone time.
Keeping structure and a normal routine has been my focus through all of lockdown. I’ve maintained getting up at 6.30am and meditating, stretching and working out before starting work at about 9am. My morning ritual, as I like to call it, is what keeps me mentally and physically strong. My work has surprisingly been consistent this whole time and I’ve pretty much done 9am to 6pm – with late nights too because I’m like what else is there. But work has been a challenge, it’s been hard to feel motivated and productive and some days it’s so hard to concentrate.
I don’t enjoy working from home and I’ve found it really difficult to feel as enthusiastic and passionate as I normally would. I can’t wait to be back in my studio, and ride there each morning and be surrounded by other creatives and have a space separate from home.
What have you changed in your life lately to make it more enjoyable?
I have removed all pressure on myself to be 100% on all the time. I think giving myself more wiggle room and not being too hard on myself has been key to surviving this year. I’ve also started up a little veggie patch to give me something new to focus on, there’s definitely something to be said about planting your own food and watching it grow before harvesting, it’s such a cool process. Everyone needs to spend more time outdoors!
For the last couple of months I’ve really dived into meditation. I read ‘The Universe Has Got Your Back’ for the second time, and this time it really resonated with me. While reading it I did all the guided meditations and activities and I felt so much lighter and connected to myself. I have felt a huge shift in myself and have been feeling far more content and mentally strong.
I’ve also been enjoying the outdoors and going for long walks and sitting by the bush, I find this very relaxing and cleansing.
As an industry, how do you think we can better support creatives and their mental health? How do we bring about collective hope?
Making time to check in with other freelancer mates, or any mates, to see how they are doing and if they need support. If we all knew we had each other’s backs, there would be so much less uncertainty. It is really isolating being a freelancer, so attending any networking events, exhibitions, shows, are all so important to not only show support but meet other creatives. It’s okay to ask for help, it’s about creating a safe environment for us to reach out.
As a freelancer, I do feel quite alone within the industry and am not really connected or around many other graphic designers. So I think creating community is important and starting conversations with people. Whether that’s reaching out to people through Instagram or creative initiatives like this. I think it’s super important to check in with people and talk about mental health, it’s okay to struggle and it’s okay to need support.
Collective hope to me is through feeling united and positive, I think it’s important to focus on what we all have and not what we don’t. So collectively we can band together to see the joy and positives around us.
Lastly, what has working on this project meant to you?
Creating a piece of artwork with someone in a different country who I’ve never met has been such a fun process. It almost makes the idea of being ‘separated’ from other designers non-existent. Almost like we're all connected somehow, virtually, or just the click of a button away, and where we can create something together so easily. Thank you for the opportunity!
Collaborating and connecting with a stranger from another country has been an exciting process. Connecting through email and the work has been a joy and I’ve liked seeing the work evolve. It has shown that we really can connect with new people and there are many opportunities if we just reach out – it’s only an email, message, follow, or a like away. It has shown me how easy it is to be creative and collaborate with a new person. Thank you for the opportunity.