5 Minutes with… Elliot Stansfield
Hi Elliot, can you tell us a little bit about who you are, what your background is, and how you first got started in the industry.
I’m a graphic designer and typography geek working for my own practice, Stansfield Design Studio. I studied Visual Communication at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts with a great year group before moving to the UK soon after (graduating in absentia). Luckily, I have dual citizenship so they couldn’t kick me out long term. I got started in the industry through a boutique design agency, Design Junkie, based in the north of England. It was a little like being in the right place at the right time. They were located only 100m from where I was living and the day I realised there was a design studio up the road I had just finished putting together my portfolio. I knocked on the door and spent the next 3 years working on a range of multi-disciplinary design with an awesome team.
Tell us about Stansfield Design Studio, where you’re based, what you do.
I started the practice when I returned to New Zealand earlier this year and I’m currently based in Nelson as I hadn’t seen the sun in 3 years (kidding, it’s not that bad). I specialise in branding and web design, two disciplines I’ve always enjoyed working in. Currently, most of my clients are based in Christchurch, Sydney & New York which makes for some unique briefs.
Is it just you, or do you have a team of designers that you work alongside?
Just me! However most of my projects involve collaborating with developers and illustrators. Luckily, I have a good network of talented creatives who do great work and I can trust to give valuable/honest advice. Polly (the dog) is also great for bouncing ideas off, although she hasn’t disagreed with one yet.
When and why did you decide to go out on your own?
It was always in the back of my mind that being independent could be a fun challenge and when I decided to return to NZ it seemed like a good opportunity to give it a go. My first client was Bacon Brothers down in Christchurch. They had been running a burger stall at the Farmers Market for a few years and were opening a burger bar in the new 181 High Street complex which had been rebuilt after the quakes. I owe their team a lot as they told everyone about the work I did and quickly generated a bunch of new projects which became the foundation of the studio.
What are some of the best bits and also the challenges about running your own studio?
It’s easy to get excited about the freedom that comes with being independent but there’s also a number of new responsibilities that take up a lot of my time. You have to put on a few different ‘hats’ before you can begin a project and end up spending a lot of time not necessarily designing anything.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
One of my clients in the UK was a startup Estate Agents, Martin Thornton & Co. They needed design input on almost everything (branding and digital experience through to interior design) and we quickly developed a strong understanding of their values and goals. We produced a clean typographic brand which contrasted in many ways with the existing marketplace. I think why I’m proud of the work was recognising the tangible effect that design had on their business. You could see how each artefact, design decision and subtle touch made an impact. They went from strength to strength and continued to come back for design advice as they grew.
What excites you the most about what you do?
The idea that design can play such a pivotal role in people’s lives, though I think design is still often undervalued. It’s exciting to see the ways good design can positively impact everyday life; perhaps where it’s needed most currently is in the political sphere.
Where do you find inspiration?
I think New Zealand design is easily holding its own internationally, and I try to keep up to date with the great work other kiwi studios and designers are doing. Film is also one of my favourite sources of inspiration, sometimes a great scene can influence an entire project.
And finally, where to next for you? What does the rest of 2017 hold?
In August I’ll be taking the practice north to Auckland where I’ll also be working closely with a leading homewares company to help develop their brand and digital experience. I’m also hoping to finish some personal projects that have had to take a backseat so far this year.
Thanks loads for your time, Elliot!