5 minutes with…Ryan Shields, Visual Designer

2 months ago by

Ahead of our next Wellington DA Event: EOY Wrap Party, we had a chat to one of our speakers, Ryan Shields.

Ryan is creative visual designer type. He loves making work that is playful and beautifully crafted. He loves when work makes people smile, makes a difference and makes a compelling story. He believes that ideas have power. They anchor our thinking and guide our creativity. They inspire our audience and connect us together.

What does your business card say?
Nothing. I don’t have one. Are they still a thing?

Can you describe the creative path you took to get where you’re at now?
My first job out of uni was working at Clemenger BBDO. I left after a year, pivoting away from advertising into design. Following that, I bounced around a bit. Working inhouse, freelancing and in studios. And now I’m working with the team at Strategy Creative. Each time I have progressed in my career, it’s been a consequence of curiosity and a willingness to learn new skills. It’s an attitude and a habit that’s opened up a lot of doors for me.

Who or what inspires you?
My best work happens when I bring a playful attitude to the project. I get a lot of joy from combining unexpected ideas together, iterating different solutions, trying out new ways of creating, and breaking a few rules. I find that designers and studios that I am drawn to – Jessica Walsh, Kessels Kramer, For the People, Collins, Nari, Erin Jang – they all seem to share this playful spirit.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Being a designer is great because you get to dip into all these different worlds for 3-6 months at a time. One day I’m figuring out how to get people excited about airports, the next it’s signing young women up to give rugby a try, then it’s getting foodies frothing over catering, then it’s helping new parents struggling with their mental health to find support. Every day it’s something new.

What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
That would be the rebrand Strategy Creative did for Zany Zeus. I’m proud of it for a couple of reasons. The first was that we had a fantastic strategic idea – Crazy Craft – to build the creative on. That really opened up a lot of thinking when it came time to designing and crafting a compelling brand story. The second reason was figuring out how to develop the brand character and illustrations in a way that honoured the Greek heritage but still felt contemporary. Unfortunately shortly before we were set to deliver the work, the business got liquidated and it all fell through.

Best piece of advice for others?
Focus communicates, but playfulness engages. Do both well and you’ll be ok.

What has been the biggest challenge since starting out in design, and what did you learn from it?
Seeing great work killed. It can be pretty painful. You do a lot of soul searching – asking yourself how things might have gone a different way. What could I have done to fix things? Wasn’t it going so well? Did I misunderstand something? I’ve learned that design is an ongoing exchange of trust. The client trusts us with their money, their brand, and their feedback. And we need to honour that trust. One of the best ways we can do this is to listen. Often that means reading between the lines and having collaborative conversations about what’s next. When clients feel heard, and understood in this way, they are better able to trust you to do great work.

Ryan’s portfolio can be found here: makebelieve.co.nz
Ryan’s writing: ifiwasntmeidwanttobe.wordpress.com
Ryan’s drawing: instagram.com/a_badly_drawn_life


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