Hot New Things — Nina van Lier, AUT

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 Nina van Lier from AUT.

Nina van Lier
Bachelor of Design (Communication Design major)

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 project ended up as a photo book – almost one metre long when open – called “Ngā wai o the Waitemata” and it mapped out the awa in our central city. It all started with a project earlier this year, where I went back to Te Auaunga (Oakley Creek) around where I grew up, and I came to understand actually how much our urban actions are impacting our central city awa, and how in need of restoration they are. Ko te wai te ora ngā mea katoa. Water is is the life giver of all things, but in Aotearoa the state of our fresh waterways doesn’t reflect this sensibility.
How has what you’ve recently been working on influenced your design process, and what momentum does it bring to your practice? What were some of your most exciting discoveries?
I think working on such an extended project has taught me patience and to pay attention to the micro details. Feeding off the energy of the project, and how fired up I’ve become about the land we live on and our role as kaitiaki has given me huge momentum in my practise. I am exciting to have some time over summer to be photographing and curating, to continue what I have started with my final project. 
And also some of the challenges along the way?
Photographing on location, especially with water, is always a challenge. I would have to visit sites multiple times and get to know how the light fell through the bush so that I could time my shoots with the light. Another pretty typical design challenge would have been synchronising my ideas – of course at the start I had all this research and different approaches to the photography, and all these important messages that I wanted to communicate, and curating those down to a cohesive work took up a big chunk of my design process. 
What did you love doing most?
Ofcourse I loved the on-site photo shoots – how could you not when my project took me to all our beautiful urban bush, streams, and creeks. But apart from the obvious, I really enjoyed the final production processes; binding my book, screen printing the cover, making the postcards for exhibition. Outside of uni, It’s quite rare to be able to follow the design process right through from start to final production and I loved the satisfaction of being able to construct the vision that I’d had for months. 
Where do you go to find inspiration (websites, resources, designers, etc)?
I spent hours at the start of my final project in the library looking over photo books, design magazines, reading snippets of Susan Sontag… Talking to the people around me and bouncing ideas off them, or gauging their opinion on something is a big part of my idea generation. I do a lot of staring into space too haha. Local artists and designers are a big inspiration for me, from young people my age to the accomplished and legendary creatives that I look up to – and it’s pretty cool in New Zealand where our industry is small enough that it’s not unlikely at some point you’ll cross paths with one of your design or photography heroes. 
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? Where to next for you? What does 2019 hold?
I have always pictured myself at design school, I was that kid constantly making things. My aunty and uncle had a big part in guiding me into exactly what I wanted to do in the creative industry, and they introduced me to graphic design when I was twelve or thirteen and from there on out I was set on the communication design degree. When I first was deciding where to go for uni, I was tossing up between Auckland and Wellington – and I think I’ll head down to Wellington next year, though I am waiting to hear back about a few internships in America so we’ll see how that goes. 


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