Now and Then with Tash Vranjes from HeyYou

6 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. Annie recently had a chat to Tash, who is a Senior Art Worker at HeyYou.

Tash! Thank you for your time and being involved. At the beginning of 2020 you had been working at Portfolio, and became a very dear member of our team. By the end of 2020, you were imbedded in the team at HeyYou. Covid meant we lost you, but it was HeyYou’s win as you have become an integral part of their business. You started there as Senior Art Worker, but we knew as well as they did you’d become so much more in a short period of time. 2022 is already looming!

What have been the major challenges present to you and the team over last 18 months?

Well there is that obvious one – lockdown. Working from home has had its challenges. Let’s be honest, it’s far easier to get distracted at home! Whether it’s kids, pets, housemates – it can be harder to focus. But thanks to technology and the awesome HeyYou family it has been pretty seamless and very productive.

My personal challenge has been missing out on those little convo’s with colleagues that can solve a problem in minutes. In the office I’m loitering around desks, asking questions, making sure things are ticking along as they should be. That’s harder in lockdown, as I can’t just look around and see who is working on what. The upside is that we can use it as an opportunity to think outside the box to make things happen.

You have worked for some of the most well-known agencies in Tāmaki Makaurau, including True, .99 (now Proximity), and now of course, HeyYou! How much of a difference do you find, in the workings and details of the different types of agency?

If you had asked me this question 3 years ago, I would have approached it from a very different view point and would have likely said, oh they’re SO different. And they are. But it’s because of the nature of their outputs, rather than the way they go about getting there.

They both require strong strategic direction and creative minds that can conceptualise something that not only represents a brand, but resonates with consumers too. The inner workings of process and structure are not that different.

There are a couple of key differences though;

  • Timelines do tend to be a little more generous in a design studio. Ad land – especially in a retail agency, can be quite reactive and that can mean tight deadlines.
  • And, as a general rule design studios are smaller – there might not always be a dedicated writer or producer etc, so designers (and suits) can wear a few different hats, and I personally think that can be beneficial for everyone.


Is there a project you’ve worked on recently, that you can share, that has been particularly fun and fulfilling?

Just one? Haha! The hero in my eyes (for various reasons), is the Yellow/Robyn’s Undies campaign.

Not only did we bring a brand and product to life in the form of Robyn’s Undies, but we paired up with Yellow to get the online shop going, created a TVC, and digital & OOH campaign that delivered results across the board. Design and advertising coming together in a seamless way. The shiny red cherry on top was that all profits from the first batch of sustainable underwear went to The Aunties charity.


But because I can’t stop at one; when I started at HeyYou, the team were at the tail-end of the brand and packaging design for Awildian Gin, which tastes great and the label is a beauty



Last one I promise! The Sky Home of Entertainment activation has to get a mention. This was such a fun project to be involved in and really showcased what you can do when you have some great creative minds onboard, and a client that allows that creativity to be realised.



As a creative art worker, how have you seen technology, or creative platforms change and develop over the years, and affect the role of the Mac op in a studio? 

My answer to this will give away how many years I’ve been in the industry – but needless to say tech has come a long way. The integration between design programmes is pretty smooth these days, and it makes life easier for the many hands that are often involved in a project. It also means if you know one programme inside out, you’ll find learning another that much simpler, so it’s great for upskilling.

Then there is the sheer speed of the good old Mac (and the internet) which has increased productivity across the board. Back when I started out, approval of a 12 page catalogue meant you had sign-off, but still faced a long night ahead spending hours (literally), generating hires PDFs and emailing them page by page to printers because of file limits and no such thing as WeTransfer!


Do you have any advice for young designers out there who are perhaps wondering if changing tact into the Mac op/art working space, is a good move?

There really is no right or wrong here. If you’re a designer that loves the technical side of things, or you simply get satisfaction from a well set up file, you can do both. Many designers can take their work from concept right through to production, and having a true understanding of the process can really help with initial design thinking. And of course, agencies and studios will always appreciate a candidate that has many strings to their bow.

Ultimately my advice is to not focus on a title and more on what you enjoy and what you’re good at. Play to your strengths.


You are an avid podcast listener. Have you been listening to anything really good of late? What are your all time recommendations?

I thought you’d never ask. Though fair warning – I almost exclusively listen to True Crime podcasts. I’m not sure what that says about me… I’ll give you my top 3, otherwise I will go on for days.

Man in the Window, about the Golden State killer is one of my all-time faves. As is the Australian podcast, Teacher’s Pet. The latter is quite long, but so worth a listen, and personally I am still adamant he did it. Lastly The Dropout, an in-depth look at Elizabeth Holmes and her (fraudulent) company Theranos.

Oh and the Dr Death series. That has to be on my list.


What else have you done to keep yourself as sane as possible during this long 2021 lockdown, outside of your work?

The same things as most I would imagine.. getting out for fresh air, zoom calls with loved ones, yoga for some mental sanity. Oh, and wine and cheese.

As I write this, Auckland is in day 80-something of lockdown, and it can be tough. But I’m trying to be kind to myself, because right now I think that’s the best thing we do, that is something that is within our control.


Thanks again for your time Tash. One final important question. Cats or dogs?

By and large, I am not a fence-sitter, but in this case I will have to be. I grew up with cats, and I currently live with one crazy Russian Blue, but there is something about the goofiness of dogs that gets me, so I’m going to say both!


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