Getting under the hood with… Joel Kitto & Stephen McCarthy

9 months ago by

Our next Under the Hood is this Thursday 28 January 2021. Thanks to our event partners Adobe, you are invited to join us online as two designers walk us through how a design project worked and an Adobe rep shares tips and tricks to improve your daily workflow.


At the upcoming event Joel Kitto is going to walk us through a recent McCarthy project; in the lead up we learned more about the projects milestones, studio methodology, their agility, peer recognition and how McCarthy celebrate in their successes.

Stephen McCarthy tells us;

One of our designers Joel Kitto will be running the talk. He was hired as a designer (we don’t really have titles junior, intermediate, senior) after a short internship when he finished his study at Ara. He’s been a part of our team for four years and lead the project we’ll be sharing – Christchurch Arts Festival.

What insights to the McCarthy methodological approach, vision or philosophy can you give us? 

We’re a tight-knit team with differing skills, processes and aesthetic sensibilities, yet we all come from a place of wanting the best for the project or client. We’re prepared to have honest conversations with each other about the work. The fact that we’re mates means we can quickly move on from robust discussions without lingering hurt feelings.

What was the most challenging part of the project and what lessons did you draw from it? 

Capturing the imagery for the five different hero shows. They each needed to work within the overall festival concept, direction and aesthetic, but also speak to the narrative of that individual show or performance.

Was there an ‘Aha!’ moment in the project when things clicked and feel into place? 

Yes, when we managed to track down Bret De Their – the designer from the 1973 and ’75 festivals – and have him join us in the studio.

McCarthy is a highly celebrated studio and you have been recognised with a number of awards recently what does this peer recognition mean to you?

The awards are a nice way to see how you stack-up against other well-regarded designers. Obviously it’s nice to know that others think your work is good too.

How has the studio adapted to the challenges of the past year? 

To be honest we came out of 2020 okay. We had to make some adjustments to the business and change the way some things were run. But from a work point of view, 2020 was just as enjoyable as previous years.

The pandemic response has created a reset in our practice what do you hope for the future of design in New Zealand? 

To trust ourselves more as individuals and embrace the inner quirk each designer can bring.

Do you have a favourite feature or shortcut in Adobe Creative cloud programs?

Yes, we thoroughly enjoy the Check Spelling feature in InDesign (cmnd-I)

And finally, what do you enjoy most about the Christchurch creative scene? 

Smash palace –  Friday


Up Next...

Fresh from the Field — Imagine What’s Possible by Onfire

With a practice focused on Fast-moving consumer goods, Onfire is undoubtedly a leader in the market. They have a rigorous understanding of the competitive retail sales environment and ensure brands dominate their categories, while commanding attention in crowded supermarket aisles. This Fresh from the Field spotlights Packaging, Identity and custom typography (and type design!) for…

More from 'Design Schools'...

2021 Hot New Things: Dannah Soriano, Media Design School

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, developing creative confidence and ambitions for the future. Today we speak with Dannah Soriano from Media Design School. Was there someone (or something)…