Magnum is a full-service advertising, design and marketing agency based in Auckland’s Freemans Bay. Chris Waters recently joined the team as Creative Director after spending many years in Australia. Design Assembly was delighted to have the opportunity to talk with Chris and find out more:
Hello Chris, you’ve recently taken up the role of Creative Director at Magnum. What are you most looking forward to?
Magnum is a fantastically agile and diligent company with a strong history in design and marketing services. I’ve been integrated into the business to head up brand strategy requirements, along with managing the consistency of brand implementation for our clients. It’s a beautifully varied role that offers scope for business development, networking within the Auckland business scene and creating brands for clients who understand the value of what a brand is and what it can mean for their business.
For me it’s the opportunity to further develop my skills, whilst continuing to solidify Magnum‘s position within the market.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you first got started in the industry?
My career began through an apprenticeship as a Gravure reel-fed printer. I loved the job and my time being involved with it, but it got to a point when I considered that it wasn’t something I wanted to do up until retirement. The logical step for me was to get into the creative sector… I was always creative growing up and enjoyed drawing, arts, crafts and those types of activity.
I undertook a full time course in graphic design and on completion basically door knocked on design companies until I got my start. From there it’s been a progression of new opportunities and advancement in my career that has subsequently bought me to Magnum.
You’ve been based in Australia for the past 10 years. What initially caused you to go there, and then to stay for so long?
I was working for a design firm and one of my clients was the NZ branch of an Australasian company that was headquartered in Sydney. They approached me to ask if I was interested in taking on the Marketing and Brand Manager role for their business. It offered a great challenge and I was intrigued by the opportunity to delve into a corporate environment. The chance to experience a new city was also appealing so we took a leap of faith… quite literally.
It was a wholesale business and when the GFC hit, things got pretty rocky because for many businesses, their first instinct was to cut out the middle-man and go straight to market, therefore it impacted on our day-to-day operations. Inevitably it led to redundancies, of which I was one.
I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason and as it transpired it led to me starting my own company – Watershed Creative – with a focus on brand development and design implementation. Again it offered a challenge along with endless ups and downs, but I loved it. Every day was different, every day I was learning and every day I was challenging myself. I learnt business and I learnt plenty about myself as a person and these are things that I can apply in my life today and into the future. Over time I built up a great network of connections and relationships that filtered into the business and project opportunities.
About a year ago, my wife and I started thinking about where our future lay and the draw was to head back to NZ for big picture reasons around family, friends, lifestyle and Kiwiana… that we wanted our son to experience – just as we had growing up.
How does the Australian experience feed into your current role?
As mentioned before, the learning curve for me whilst in Australia was steep and the experience invaluable. It’s put me in good stead in many facets of my life, both professionally and personally.
I believe the main thing I’ve learnt is how best to engage and interact with clients and prospects alike. I understand the value that I bring to the table for any project and I have the confidence, through collaboration with clients and our team here at Magnum, in delivering strong concepts for clients that they will love, something that resonates with their business, is relevant and that they will have pride in taking to market. I understand this more now based on my experience in Australia, because it was in Australia that I took on personal development after I realised that your mindset really does shape your direction and success in life.
How do you feel about being back in New Zealand?
The short answer is that we love being back. It feels right and it’s comfortable. We were somewhat apprehensive about coming back because we really didn’t have much to come back to, no jobs, no house etc. but we are firm believers that if you put yourself out there, things work out. Now we are established, settled and content.
Being back I am able to relax because I know this is where we’ll stay and I’m open to any scenario and opportunity that presents itself.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
I was involved in an awesome project of rebranding KARI – a community based organisation that caters to Aboriginal people, with a focus on foster care, family support, youth programs and education. They are a fantastic organisation with a great cause but they were somewhat disconnected from their purpose and vision. It was a privilege to work with them to create an engaging brand that allowed them to connect more strongly with their community, as well as being more confident in seeking corporate affiliation and support through big business and sponsorship.
It’s received positive feedback both internally and externally and I’m very proud of the final result.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
I’m a big fan of reading brand review type-sites such as BrandNew and LogoDesignLove, to see what other designers are creating as well as learning more about design in general. I really enjoy reading about brand projects that explain the thought process and directions that were explored to determine the final result.
On more of a broad range I think Pinterest and Behance are nice sites to gain inspiration for specific brand projects.
Where can we see more of your work?
I have a personal portfolio page that can be found at https://chriswaters.myportfolio.com
Plus, I am currently involved with revamping the Magnum site which is currently undergoing a refresh; so watch this space for its new role-out happening soon.
Thanks for your time Chris, and all the best for your new role!
See more from Magnum at: magnumltd.co.nz