Take 10 with… Vaughn Davis
During categories 3 and 4 of New Zealand’s COVID response we launched Take 10 with… to do a pulse check on how our community was feeling, working, what you are missing, and learn about your hopes for the future. We think the format has merit as we transition into practice in the post-COVID landscape, and we had feedback that you really enjoyed the series so we tweaked the questions and invited more of our friends and peers to participate in these candid profiles of Aotearoa designers today.
Vaughn Davis, creative director and owner, The Goat Farm.
How did you get into design?
The usual route: 10 years as an air force pilot then into advertising. I’ve always enjoyed writing and drawing – especially cartoons. I was lucky enough to be sent by the air force to Canterbury University and ended up cartooning, writing and taking photos for student newspaper Canta. That more or less sowed the seed for what I’m doing now and saved me from becoming an airline pilot.
A Martin Baker Mk9 ejection seat from a Phantom jet. Similar to the one Vaughn used to sit on when while training as an RNZAF pilot, lives in the corner of The Goat Farm office.
What do you love about design?
Design and advertising give you the experience of quite literally seeing your dreams come true. Thinking something up in the shower or while walking the dog, then working with amazingly talented people to bring it to life is something few other jobs offer.
How are you feeling right now?
Great! We’ve never been involved with so many new ideas and new businesses. Crisis makes for creativity and you can just about smell it as you walk down the street.
What lockdown experiences would you keep going forward?
TGF was born out of collaboration, cloud and BYOD… so lockdown was an easy slip back to our roots. We love our Karangahape Road office, but this has reminded us that its main value is social, so we’re looking for ways to make more of that.
How does your workload compare to before the COVID-19 Lockdown?
We were lucky enough to have some big projects on and that, plus a bunch of Covid-related stuff, meant it was a busy time for us. Amazingly, we’ve picked up more new clients during lockdown than we did in the six months prior.
Tell us about your current workspace. Are you still working from home? Or if you are back in your studio how has your workspace adapted?
We’ve recently moved to a studio on Karangahape Road overlooking Myer’s Park. It’s a great part of town and we love the space. While we collaborate with lots of other people, we have a small core team so work around one long table. We had it specially made and while it’s great to work at, moving companies loathe it.
What are you enjoying about the ‘re-opening’ of levels 1 & 2, which local businesses (or services) did you miss and enjoying reconnecting with?
I’m personally looking forward to getting back into the recording studio. We do a lot of radio and TV and I personally love directing voice talent. Our go-to, Big Tree Studios, has been incredible at wrangling everything remotely but I’m hanging out for that first live booking.
What’s your one tip right now?
Try to hold on to at least some of the positive changes we made in lockdown. It would be easy to slip back and lose the goodness.
What do you hope for the Aotearoa design community going forward?
That we support each other, especially people let go by the big agencies. That we continue to value or work and convince clients of it. That we keep showing clients the light, and don’t give up if they sometimes choose the darkness.