Ahead of our next Design Assembly Conversations Wellington event, we grabbed a quick 5 minutes with Pete Montgomery, Creative Director at Xero. Pete joins illustrator and hand-letterer Kelly Spencer in conversation this coming Thursday at BizDojo.
Refreshments thanks to Sunshine Brewery.
Hi Pete, can you tell our readers how you first got started in the industry?
I was encouraged by a friend to leave school after 6th form (Year 12) to follow my passion of art and design at Wellington Polytechnic’s foundation course in Visual Communication Design. I went on to the Bachelor of Design, I was intrigued by their association with the Architecture School, because that had been an interest of mine. I took an active interest in all the courses but had no real major — I just did the papers that interested me… Illustration, 3D graphics, motion graphics, typography, Graphic Design, Advertising.
My first job was for an ex-Wellington Design School graduate in London working on mainly Middle Eastern Annual Reports. I went between NZ and the UK for a few years on my OE and then settled back in Wellington at Clemenger BBDO for 13 years which fulfilled my hybrid interests in creativity and design. I then went on to Ocean Design which was an opportunity to talk and learn more about growing brands and culture. Now at Xero I’m using all of those skills to drive the internal creative team to take the work to the next level.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
I should say designing the New Zealand Passport, it was a great opportunity and I’m really proud of the story-telling that went into it and also the chance to work on a document of some importance. I also took a bit of pride around the typography and print treatments in a corporate profile for Format Printers. But really I’m most proud of the teams and designers that I’ve worked with and helped to develop over the years.
What excites you about what you do?
There’s that moment in the creative process, where that idea you’re trying to crack has been tied up in your head — sometimes maybe for days — waking you up, distracting you from completing simple tasks and sometimes even sentences… then that exclamation. The breakthrough, where the ideas start flowing. That moment is what excites me.
There’s also those moments as a design leader when you see your team get excited about a project and it’s about creating and fostering an environment for those moments to happen.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
I’m not a trivia buff, but I do have an unhealthy appetite for popular culture and I’m always looking for the origins of the idea or a movie or a piece of art — I’m glad Wikipedia didn’t exist when I was younger. Nostalgia inspires me also, I have these old 1940’s hardback comic book annuals from my Dad, the pages are falling out — I remember colouring some of the panels with crayons when I was a kid — there’s something in that simple illustration style that I look for and am inspired by; limited colour palettes, use of shadow and light, bold lines.
What can people expect from your talk at our upcoming Design Assembly Conversations event?
I’ll be chatting about what craft means to me and what I’ve observed throughout my career of when craft is allowed to shine, when it’s the expectation and not the exception.
Thanks for your time, Pete. We look forward to hearing more on Thursday evening.
Find out more about Kelly and her upcoming Wellington workshop on Saturday April 8th by clicking here!