5 Minutes with Sarah Maxey, ahead of this year’s SPARK event

4 years ago by

Sarah Maxey is one of the many talented creatives taking part in this year’s SPARK festival held at Wintec from August 14–17th. #Spark17 features a wide range of presentations, workshops and events. Tickets are at NO COST and available via Eventbrite.

Ahead of this year’s SPARK, Festival Director, Megan Lyon, spent a few moments chatting with Sarah:

1. What do you do?
I’m a graphic designer.

2. What project, personal or professional are you most proud of and why?
I’m most proud of staying in business as a sole trader continuously for almost 20 years. I’ve worked mostly on uncommercial work for the arts sector and self-initiated projects. In a tiny country like New Zealand, that has been an incredibly tough road to travel.

3. What’s the best thing about what you do?
I like all the processes that surround a piece of work – the thinking, planning, reading and talking. Also the doodling, experimenting, procrastinating, watching the telly, etc. Doing the actual work is just sheer bloody hard work (and it doesn’t get any easier). I’m fortunate to share my workspace with a group of wonderful people – there’s a lot of inspiring conversation and sharing of ideas and books. And giggling.

4. What informs your practice? Where do you go for ideas, information and inspiration?
My inspiration comes from outside the graphic design world – from reading, looking at art, listening to podcasts, talking to friends. My heroes all come from other disciplines: poets, essayists, journalists, artists, graphic novelists and comic book artists, stand-up comedians, self-taught or ‘outsider’ artists and the art of children.

5. Name a designer or creative that you admire and why?
I’m hugely inspired by the work of British stand-up comic Stewart Lee, who also writes political satire for The Guardian. He is such a master of the genre that he is able to bend and subvert it into something quite transcendent. His material is often as heartbreaking as it is funny, a combination that I admire in all artforms. I’ve also been reading feminist essayists Rebecca Solnit and Maggie Nelson, numerous comic book writers/graphic novelists, but most notably Anders Nilsson, Leanne Shapton and Brecht Evens. If pushed for a graphic design hero I’d choose those that work outside of commercial concerns: in the UK Daniel Eatock and in New Zealand Catherine Griffiths, Kerry Ann Lee and Luke Wood.

6. If you weren’t a graphic designer, what would you be doing?
I’d be a struggling writer of some sort.

7. What are you working on this year?
I’m about to launch into my Masters thesis, studying at Canterbury with Luke Wood. My research is around publishing as art practice and the designer as author.

8. What can people expect from your talk at SPARK?
I’m planning to talk about my self-initiated book projects in conjunction with my post-grad study at Canterbury University.

If you’d like to hear more from Sarah, or have the opportunity to work one-one-one, she will be on the panel for the Design Industry Breakfast kicking off at 7.30am on Tuesday 15th August. She will also be running a Hand Lettering Workshop from 3–4.30pm on the same day.



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