This series profiles the best and brightest designers in Aotearoa’s in-house design studios, this week we spoke with Reuben Shalome, from Ravensdown Ltd a large agricultural co-operative.
Can you describe the creative path you took to get where you’re at now?
Too much dawdling! I’ve always enjoyed the arts but was never the best student. I was also quite lazy so no surprise when I left Uni and didn’t have much of a portfolio (you can read more about this on Revolution Creative. I went back to study in 2004 (Whanganui) to hone some computer skills and from there it was small steps leading to my current job at Ravensdown. Part-time/freelance work to Mac Op short term contracts to Mac Op full time to Junior Designer to Graphic Designer at small company to Senior Graphic Designer at big company.
Where are you based and what shape does your creative team take?
I am based in Chch working for Ravensdown Ltd. I’m in the marketing team which has 15 people including a dedicated digital team (doesn’t include the huge IT team!) The roles include Brand Manager, Events co-ordinator, Comms staff, Digital Manager, Analyst, Marketing Assistant…but only one graphic designer! About 120 staff in Chch and over 700 nationwide.
What does a typical day at Ravensdown Ltd look like for you and what do you enjoy most about working there?
I work on all touchpoints throughout the company. Internal and external, so no two days are the same. We’ve been slowly moving away from the traditional print media and doing more digital work. This includes ads and online brochures and less mailouts. I still do a lot of posters for our large store network and print ads for specialist papers like Farmers Weekly. Today I’m working with the Sustainability Manager and designing icons that can be used across multiple platforms as well as print and then later to be animated. My current large projects are a Wallplanner, Calendar and pocket diary. Turns out, with a customer demographic of over 50’s, they love the old school diary to carry around on farm. This will be a print run of 16,000. I enjoy the variety of work and the autonomy that I have. The company culture is great and very encouraging which, having worked for some shitty places, means a lot more to me nowadays.
Do you have a campaign or project you’re particularly proud of?
I tend to not like my work looking back. Always love what I’m currently doing! It might not sound sexy but project managing the signage across our 70 stores over the course of a year makes me very proud. This was us rebranding ALL the old signs and came with quite a few challenges (people and location and budget!)
How much of your work is internal (supporting your colleagues) vs external (public) focused?
Probably 40% internal and 60% external.
Do you ever suffer brand fatigue working with the same visual language and or messaging if not how do you keep things diverse?
Great question! We’re always evolving. The challenge is consistency across the brand. There’s always some wayward employee who has brutalised a powerpoint template or created their own newsletter against brand! It’s the sheer scope of work that keeps brand fatigue at bay. And learning! Ravensdown are big on training so I’m supported in studying more about digital marketing and leadership. The Innovation Team recently launched a new product called ClearTech which means all new collateral for marketing. We have launched a mapping platform called HawkEye which has a different branding. And then there’s the sustainability work. Always something new to keep brand fatigue at bay!
Does Ravensdown use your in house studio exclusively or do you collaborate (or compete?) with external design studios from time to time?
Mostly in-house. We have a bi-annual publication called Ground Effect, which is done by Libby and Ben. We have our events at fieldays nationwide, working alongside Libby and Ben, Displayworks and Adgraphix. We also outsource some video work. We collab with animators and various other designers such as Upshift in Nelson and Kerry Argus (Designworks were responsible for our rebrand). Plus Laura Griffiths for copywriting!
Are you working on Mac or PC and if Mac do you face any challenges working in a predominantly PC based environment?
PC all the way. I don’t see much difference (back in my youth I was an ardent Mac-head!)
What tools do your creative team use for digital asset management project planning and productivity?
Assana, Adobe Creative Suite, and of course Office!
Given you are servicing the rural industry where the landscape is important… How does the New Zealand environment shape your ideas on creativity/design?
Rarely. It’s mainly about animals! Get the wrong sheep and you’ll hear about it from the stakeholders. Get the wrong crop and you’ll never hear the end of it!
Do you have any other advice for designers who aspire to follow a similar path as yours?
Be open to working in a corporate. The budgets are bigger! Never stop learning. Never give up.
I would just like to add, for creativity I set my own personal projects and enjoy writing. I’ve built a large following on social platforms for creative writing and it’s here where I enjoy an outlet to express myself. I think this is vitally important for everybody’s mental health. It helps to set yourself challenges.