Hot New Things 2020 – Carym Wharerau, Victoria Unviersity

9 months ago by

Each summer DA profiles a selection of the top design graduates coming out of our tertiary institutions.
We welcome these talented emerging professionals to our industry, learn about their passions, final projects and dreams for the future.

Today we speak with Carym Wharerau from Victoria University


Was there someone (or something) that inspired you to pick design as a career path?

I’ve almost always had a knack for designing, drawing, and creating stuff from an early age, so I feel like it was just a natural thing for me to want to pursue a career in design really. Regardless, there’ve been plenty of people and things in my life that’ve helped to boost my curiosity.

Credit absolutely has to go to my Design and Visual Communications teacher from High School who was, and still is, the biggest supporter of my work and constantly encouraged me to take the thinking box and absolutely burn it! The biggest thing I learnt from her was to always take risks in design.

Another person that inspired me to pursue a career in design is Andrew Patterson, whom I was lucky enough to be selected by to participate in a trip to Silicon Valley (San Francisco, US.) It was from this experience that I began to see, literally, what was going on in the world of technology and how design operates on a global scale. Visiting tech giants such as Facebook, Google, IDEO etc. allowed me to see how the status quo for design is being challenged.

Another big (and sorta weird) moment of “revelation” for me wanting to become a designer stemmed from the show Art Attack that I used to watch RELIGIOUSLY as a kid!

You completed your full time studies at the end of 2019. Can you tell us what your final year’s project focussed on?

My final year’s project focused on the creation of a Visual Narrative as inspired by May Swenson’s poem ‘The Pigeon Woman.’ Given the glum and sorrow impression that the poem ascribes the old woman, I wanted to focus on this narrative component and amplify it through visual mediums. So, I made an animated short-comic!

Both appealing and impactful, the story tells of an old woman and her daily routine of feeding the “motely city pigeons” every day. Ultimately, the story pokes at the idea of loneliness and how we must all remained connected with our elders, as well as ourselves.

What were some of your most exciting or unexpected discoveries to come out of your project?

My most exciting and unexpected discoveries that came from this project was the amount of work it actually takes to make a fully functioning, fully realised comic. Prior to making, and learning about making comics, I had a general idea of how comic operated. Since finishing The Pigeon Woman I’ve acquired a better more critical eye for comics and being able to try and understand the messages and design decisions that the artist has made.

What did you love doing most?

I absolutely loved creating the animated components of my short-comic, and although it was entirely time-consuming and I may or may not have caught eternal sore-neck-isis, I enjoyed bringing the characters to life and creating a story with them.

What was your biggest challenge while studying and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge studying is being able to remain creatively active. I think that every designer and artist can relate to this, but more than often do I find myself completely drained of creative motivation, which ultimately affects my ability to make both genuine artworks as well as timely artworks that aren’t submitted 5 minutes before presentation day haha. I do understand, though, that this is something I’ll need to learn to exercise, it’s just a matter of learning to separate deisng from work and making it a hobby of mine again!

How has your ability and confidence progressed since the beginning of your studies?

I sometimes struggle to notice the improvement in my work because I’m constantly challenging and critiquing myself and the work I make, but looking back at when I first started tertiary education, both my technical abilities as well as my ability to think more critically have definitely improved as a result of the learning opportunities that I’ve been exposed to (lectures, tutors, projects etc.) I can confidently say now that my design matters and that it’s not too shabby really!


How do you see your work and practice developing, and what are your main aspirations?

I feel like in order for my work and my practise in design to develop I need to continue to ask more questions and learn to listen and read the world and things around me a lot better. More specifically, I plan on exercising this by remaining connected to and learning more about my Māori heritage and from the people around me, but also keeping an open mind.

My aspirations are to get out in the world and see as much of it as I can. 

Which piece are you most proud of and why?

I feel most proud of my animated short comic as it is a project that I knew would be a big challenge given the technological restrictions and my lack of knowledge about animated short-comics. Since finishing the project I’m happy that I was able to take what I saw in my head and actually construct and show it to other people, regardless of the many obstacles that were involved haha.


What does your dream job look like?

I can see myself being some sort of creative director in an indigenous space, a brand and/or product designer, or either a graphics and design teacher at my old High School.

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 chose to study at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Design because of the culturally diverse and creative city it is situated within (Wellington) and I was sure that I would remain creatively inspired given the array of things constantly happening in the city. VUW’s School of Design also has a great learning atmosphere and I know that my design will be appreciated.

Where to next for you? What does 2020 hold?

In 2020 I will be taking off to Penn State University USA for a semester to see what design is like in a completely different climate to New Zealand’s!

I will also be completing my Bachelor of Design Innovation after three years (yay!) my eyes set on completing my Masters in Brand Design at Lécole de Design in France in the coming years!


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