Now and Then: Sanyukta Mohatta

5 years ago by

Written by Annie McCulloch, Portfolio Recruitment
Now and Then is a series where we catch up with designers who’ve been recently placed, via Portfolio Recruitment. We get their thoughts and feedback about their new roles and their work. Our latest Now and Then is with Sanyukta Mohatta (San), a Graphic Designer at Youthtown.

Wonderful San! Thank you for being involved in Now and Then. You’re originally from Mumbai, India. How did you find the transition from being a designer in India, to doing design here in New Zealand?
It’s actually been a refreshing change for me and has come at the right time of my design journey. As a young designer, I was inspired by India’s colourful and vibrant aesthetics, but I’ve now reached a stage where I aspire to simple, minimalist design, which is definitely more prevalent in New Zealand. I’m really enjoying the transition, and it’s already been a great learning for me! 

We know that it’s not an easy market to break into and you stood out as different from a lot of other designers from overseas. Tell us how you went about that?
The best way to enter a new market is to have a design portfolio that shows you’re ready for the transition. Having always enjoyed experimenting with new design styles and brands, I was fortunate to have a mixed and varied portfolio to work with. I spent a lot of time researching design trends in NZ, online, through design events and general observation. I also shared my existing work with other designers here and got some great feedback, which helped me refine projects to have a stronger NZ appeal. It was an exciting challenge, which not only landed me with a neater portfolio of work, but also helped me to connect with the local design community. 

What are some of the major differences between design in NZ and design in India?
In an over-saturated market like India, brands tend to go over-the-top with their fonts and colours in an attempt to “stand out.” The bold artworks may appeal to some, but they lack the universal appeal of NZ design. Overall, design in NZ is much neater and on-point, with simple fonts, clean colour palettes and sharp, punchy communication.

Another major difference is that people here seem have a greater appreciation for the design process. In India, timelines for design work are often quite unreasonable, allowing little or no time for strategic thinking. However, I’ve noticed that in NZ, people value the amount of work that goes into seemingly simple design work, and deadlines are usually way more realistic! 

And what are some of the similarities?
The most exciting similarity for me is that both countries have distinct traditional art forms, and it’s fascinating to see the unique design styles they inspire!

Design is also a growing industry in both countries. Design education is gaining popularity and people in both countries are branching out into more specialised areas of design and communication. 

Youthtown is such a fantastic organisation. How have you worked to keep the brand relevant, in a youth oriented market, and up to date over the last almost two years? Do you work with external creative agencies much?
Youthtown had recently refreshed their brand with an external agency and my initial focus was to roll out the new branding cohesively. I had cheerful township illustrations and playful colours to work with, and had some fun incorporating them into layouts across marketing collateral, including signage, sales packs, uniforms, newsletters, events and digital comms. My aim is to ensure that our creative output is always on brand, youthful, energetic and engaging across all media.

Being a non-profit, our budget rarely allows us to work with external agencies. Our marketing team of three, all have varied backgrounds and skill sets, and work hard to produce all creative work internally. 

What do you love about what you do?
My favourite thing about being a designer is that it never gets boring! I enjoy dabbling with different aspects of design and love the versatility that you can bring to your work. Being part of an ever-evolving industry, I find myself continuously learning new and exciting skills to keep up with the latest trends and requirements. 

You’ve now been living in Auckland for two years, after initially working in Wellington on arrival in NZ. Where is your favourite place, or what is your favourite thing to do in the region?
Wellington with its cool art and murals has a strong creative appeal, but the pace and big-city feel of Auckland is definitely more me! I enjoy sunsets on the beach and leisure walks along the waterfront. Blue Springs near Putaruru and the Cathedral Cove walk on the Coromandel Peninsula are some of my favourite spots so far!  

Youthtown is a nationally operated, not-for-profit organisation. Youthtown’s Sport, Outdoor, OSCAR and Youth programmes provide skills and knowledge that develop young people, giving them the confidence to make good decisions and build resilience. Their values, Mastery, Independence, Belonging and Generosity are incorporated into everything they do.   

Find out more about Youthtown at:

And to help further develop your own creative career visit:


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