Hot New Things — Ashleigh Connelly, Ara

3 years ago by

Welcome to Hot New Things 2019 – an opportunity to profile a selection of the top design graduates coming out of our tertiary institutions. This week, we speak with Ashleigh Connelly from Ara, Institute of Canterbury.

Ashleigh Connelly
Bachelor of Design – Visual Communication
Ara, Institute of Canterbury

You completed your full time studies at the end of 2018. Can you tell us what your final year’s project was about and what you focussed on?

My final year’s project is a mental health campaign called Zeal. It is designed to motivate young New Zealand Women to support their Hauora/Wellbeing by regularly exercising, thus promoting the use of exercise as a form of ‘mental medicine’. The intentions of the Zeal Campaign is to help Young New Zealand Women find a balance between their physical and mental health and ease their journey into adulthood. The Zeal campaign is driven by socks, promoting movement, starting at the feet. Zeal socks are a daily, tangible object, that provides a motivational cue for movement. The socks (hidden under our shoes), emphasise the importance of what ‘lies beneath’ (mental health), rather that the visible aesthetics.

How has what you’ve recently been working on influenced your design process, and what momentum does it bring to your practice?

My current project has influenced my design process greatly. One design process component that I discovered would strongly influence the success of my project, was how effectively I connected and communicated with the demographic and target audience. This process involved a lot of research and refinement to ensure I was visualising my project from the eyes of the audience.

What were some of your most exciting discoveries?

Throughout my final year at Ara Institute of Technology, I discovered a love and passion for illustration design. I have loved exploring various illustration styles, to create different vibes and to build different emotion. I love the personal connection one can develop with a project through creating a unique series of illustrations. Additionally, I loved exploring and discovering new printing medias and techniques, which opened my eyes to a whole new way of visually communicating.

And also some of the challenges along the way?

One of the biggest challenges that I have faced along the way has been to maintain my confidence with my ideas and concepts, particularly when working with clients. Additionally, I have had to learn the importance of having an open mind throughout the design journey and not get attached to any particular ideas or designs. Design concepts are forever evolving and it’s vital to enjoy the development process.

What did you love doing most?

I have loved having the opportunity to put together a project on a topic that I’m hugely passionate about. Personally, I rely on forms of exercise as mental medicine. I recognise how important it is for me to regularly exercise, in order to maintain a healthy mind. Exercise helps with my motivation, mood, stress management and mental clarity. I have learned to love the design development journey and uncertainty of a projects end result. Building ideas and concepts has become a part of design that I love the most. The sprouting of ideas builds excitement and momentum for the creative side of a project. I have found some of my most exciting ideas have grown from a design brief that didn’t have an easy journey.

Where do you go to find inspiration (websites, resources, designers, etc)?

I find a lot of my inspiration grows from keeping my eyes open and recognising things around me. I also love to look through design magazines, Instagram, Behance and Pinterest to keep up with the latest and greatest in the design industry.

Why did you choose to study at your design school, and what do you feel you can take away now that you’ve completed your course?

I choose to study at Ara because of the small one on one teaching opportunity and the accessible tutor help. As I am a very hands on learner, all the equipment and recourses available at Ara grabbed my attention. I knew they give would give me the opportunity to try news techniques and expand my design skill base. I’ve enjoyed how Ara has allowed me to explore my natural curiosity for design and experiment with non traditional design principles and methods, in the search of my own style.

Where to next for you? What does 2019 hold?

On completion of my studies in 2019, I hope to continue working with a group of creative, passionate, like minded people that will naturally help expand my design skill base and professionalism. I am excited to start my design career in the big wide world and explore the design industry further.

‘I am always doing what I can’t do yet, in order to learn how to do it’ (Vincent Van Gogh) |



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