Now and Then with Sam Harris of Hula

9 months ago by

Written by Annie McCulloch and brought to you by Portfolio Recruitment

Now and Then is a series where we catch up with designers who have been recently placed, via Portfolio Recruitment, to get their thoughts and feedback about their roles and their work. This time we’re catching up with Sam, who is a junior designer at Hula.


Thanks for being involved in our Now & Then series Sam. You’ve been at Hula now since March this year and it’s your first full time permanent job since graduation. So far, how is it going? Have there been cool projects you’ve been involved in?

Going great! Awesome team to work with and learn from. Joining a relatively new agency and being involved in the branding and positioning is a unique experience I definitely didn’t expect to encounter in my first role!

One of the first clients I worked with was Documentary Edge, who host New Zealand’s Oscar qualifying documentary film festival. Helping develop the rebrand for such a cool local organisation was a great intro project for me to learn from.

Other than Doc Edge, I’ve been involved with brand guideline work and other internal projects for NZMP (Fonterra’s ingredients and solutions brand). This has been very insightful to be involved with – as a brand of this scale.


What lead you to study design? Did you consider studying anything else?

Both my parents work in advertising, so it began at high school with me naturally falling into and enjoying creative subjects. I have always had a keen attention towards the way my immediate environment was designed since I was young. What I would describe as an invigorating feeling from experiencing both great and poor design in everyday encounters.

From early glimpses of architectural study at high school, my interest shifted towards Graphic Design as I felt it was a more accessible medium for my creative practice. I then chose to enrol at AUT, studying Communication Design.

Architecture would have certainly been my second pick, and it’s a discipline I’m still interested in studying or being involved with later in life.

When you graduated, what were your expectations of the local job market? How did you approach your job hunt?

During high school and the first years of university I wasn’t giving much thought in regard to my expectations post-study. It was only in my final year I began to start to actively seeking out opportunities, through work placements / internships alongside my study.

I came to the realisation that I had to begin a transition for myself out of study. I wanted to avoid getting dropped in at the deep end once I graduated. Laying some groundwork with work experience certainly helped make this possible.


Who are your design heroines/heroes?

Firstly the cheesy answer is my parents (my father designed the original Body Shop logo whilst a student at Art College). Other names would be Otl AicherMies van der Rohe and Dieter Rams across their respective disciplines.

What is one thing you’ve learned in 2021 so far that has helped strengthen your love of design and confidence as a designer?

Since starting at Hula I have been given some great projects to work on. One thing that has really helped me is seeking feedback and being open to any improvements that need making. This is directly tied to confidence for me, as I know this is the approach needed to grow.

I can already look back and see how much I have improved since I started. I’m really excited to see where I will be at in 10 years from now.


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