Meet our Friends… Nick de Jardine
Based in Wellington, New Zealand, Nick de Jardine works with a diverse range of clients and collaborators from across the globe. Nick has over seventeen years of industry experience and founded Grafik in 2011. He has been recognised by a number of design industry awards including five gold pins, two AGDA awards and twelve Awwwards. We caught up with Nick to learn more about his journey, practice and hopes for the future.
Kia ora Nick, What is your background and how did you get into design?
My love affair with computers began when I was introduced to the Commodore 64 in 1989. This liaison continued with the 486 and Bulletin Boards, and then things got serious when the World Wide Web emerged. So I guess you could say I got into design through this “new internet thing”. It was an exciting time.
I made my first website back in 1997 for a school project — I was 16 at the time. The subject matter was ‘Nine Inch Nails’, everything was aligned centred; everything was moving (gifs), and everything was un-styled!
I later went on to study Information Systems and Multimedia at University. After my first taster, the internet became my spirit animal.
As a “team of one” you wear a lot of hats! What does a typical work day as designer, developer, account manager and strategist, look like for you?
I get to the office at 8 am. Because I work with clients in different timezones, I get stuck into email straight away as I want to catch people before they finish.
From there, I usually have 2—3 projects that I am working on at any given time, all in different stages. Naturally, my day gets structure around these stages. I like to switch between coding and design to keep my mind fresh, and my enthusiasm elevated.
Evenings I usually tinker with projects — this is my favourite time as I tend to take more risks.
I do often partner with other studios, so am not always working alone!
What do you see was the biggest benefit to you personally having creative ownership of all these aspects of a project?
Working with the client, I can quickly adapt and evolve the website without endless internal processes getting in the way. I have a direct understanding of the clients business and therefore, better knowledge of the design problem.
Often my best ideas come through tinkering and quickly just trying something out — something I found very hard to do in a team approach where roles are strictly defined.
What is the biggest risk you have taken since founding Grafik?
My most significant risk was birthing Grafik in the first place. It was 2011, and I had just had my first kid, recently purchased a house, was the sole income, and had no clients. Pre Grafik, I used to think about the perfect time to go out on my own — but later learned this does not exist in any capacity. You just have to do it!
What’s something you wish you’d known about web development before you learnt it the hard way?
I once took a job in a large IT firm purely for a high salary. I lasted about two months before the boredom got to me. I learned that for me to be happy, it’s about being able to be creative, and getting paid is really just a bonus.
What project are you most proud of and why?
I’m not a person that has favourites. As long as I am continually learning and creating, I am happy.
As well as the design services above you also sell a series of posters on your site, can you tell us about these artworks and how they came about?
My style is heavily inspired by print design, I find print layouts much more refined. From using this as constant inspiration, I developed a fondness for posters, so an idea developed late at night — that I could make some extra cash selling them. The first few posters I made went very well and sold out. Then New Zealand Post changed its pricing. Overnight sending an A1 poster tube overseas went from about $15 to $50! That killed my side business, thanks a million NZ Post!
How does your workload compare to before the COVID-19 Lockdown?
It’s very much the same, if not slightly busier. There was a big spike when we came out of level 3 (with restaurants wanting click-and-collect facilities). I could work out of a cupboard if needed, so Lockdown presented a reasonably familiar scenario.
Finally, I appreciate we are navigating uncertain times so predictions are difficult at the moment – but what do you think will be the most critical factor to shape design practice in the next 2 years?
A long-overdue acceptance of allowing either full or part-time work from home. Who would have known that if you treat your staff like adults, it results in a happier and more productive workforce!