2024 Hot New Things: Maddie Shaw, Wintec
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 Maddie Shaw, who recently graduated from the Bachelor of Design Visual Communication programme at Wintec. You can find out more about Aotearoa NZ creative study options by visiting our design schools page.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello, I’m Maddie, a 21-year-old recent graduate from Wintec School of Media Arts. Throughout my childhood, my love for all things creative led me to develop a strong passion for photography and graphic design. The realisation of my interest in Graphic Design struck during high school, thanks to introductory courses that sparked my curiosity.
My educational journey at Wintec has been transformative, playing a pivotal role in shaping who I am today. From conceptualising innovative projects to executing intricate designs, I’ve refined my abilities to bring creative ideas to life. This period of growth extended beyond just developing my artistic skills; it fostered a sense of self-assurance. I discovered that greatness isn’t solely reserved for the naturally gifted, but for those who are willing to put in the hard work.
What did your graduating project focus on?
MRS Design was a self-initiated project aimed at starting a unique business within the next few years. I took on this project with the initiative to create hypothetical wedding invitation sets and a sample pack to help couples with their invitation choices. This project stemmed from my experience as a wedding photographer, where I’ve seen the importance of design in telling a couple’s story.
The goal was to fill a gap in my portfolio as well as creating a sample pack that showcases different design options, materials, and choices, leaving a lasting impression on the wedding industry. I wanted to stand out in the market by offering a unique perspective. Using my knowledge, I planned to provide diverse, custom options and employ a range of different design practices that I had learned throughout my three years at Wintec. I aimed to attract clients who, like me, see wedding invitations as a way to express themselves and their values.
Why did you choose to study at Wintec?
During my time at school, I found that my strengths distinctly leaned towards the artistic classes rather than the academic. I was drawn to creative expression and found fulfilment in exploring various forms of art, including photography and graphic design. Recognizing my passion for these creative pursuits, I sought an educational environment that could provide a practical and hands-on approach to developing my artistic skills.
Wintec stood out to me as an institution that not only acknowledged the value of artistic expression but also offered specialised programs, such as the School of Media Arts, which aligned perfectly with my interests. The emphasis on practical, real-world experience at Wintec appealed to me, as I believed it would provide the ideal foundation for honing my artistic talents.
What did you enjoy most about your course, or what do you feel you can take away now that you’ve completed it?
I’ve enjoyed every aspect of my course, especially in the last two years where I believe I found my style and passions. The opportunity to explore captivating electives like typography and motion graphics has been particularly rewarding. Delving into these subjects, along with successfully collaborating on numerous real-world projects with a variety of clients, has been truly fulfilling. The creative freedom I had in projects according to my vision was both self-motivating and rewarding, enabling me to pursue my passion, expand my skill set, and discover new interests along the way.
The hands-on nature of the degree, coupled with the approachability of the lecturers, made the learning experience incredibly enriching. Over the past three years, I’ve gained valuable knowledge, from mastering the basics of composition, typography, and colour to fostering openness to different possibilities. The guidance I received within the classroom helped broaden my perspective, building my mindset to be open to new ideas and constructive criticism. Now that I’ve completed the course, I feel equipped with a diverse skill set and a mindset that values both creativity and adaptability.
Were there any exciting or unexpected discoveries to come out of your studies?
Exploring various electives over three years revealed exciting discoveries in illustration, screen printing, type design, and motion graphics. While I enjoyed and learned alot from all my elective choices, I would have to say that type design was a design practice I never had the chance to explore before. Prior to this exploration, I didn’t have much interest in typographic practices, However, learning more about the different styles, personalities, typographic history, alongside designing my own typefaces using Glyphs completely changed my perspective. This experience sparked a genuine interest in typography, making me more aware of typefaces in everyday life and prompting a newfound appreciation.
In my fundamental design courses, I took interest in engaging with brand identity projects, such as logo and packaging design, as well as some publication designs. Witnessing the transformation of the final design from the digital development to a physical form was something I loved to see. I found a passion for integrating illustrative and bold elements into my work, acknowledging their versatility in communication and their ability to bring designs to life. As I progress on my creative journey, I am committed to exploring and perfecting my style, with an expectation that it will continue to evolve through ongoing practice.
What was your biggest challenge while studying and how did you overcome it?
One significant challenge I faced was managing multiple projects and assignments while holding myself to high standards. I found myself working at my screen nearly 24/7, sacrificing sleep, and putting immense pressure on myself to meet my own expectations. In my final year, the workload became exceptionally hectic, and I raised the bar even higher, becoming my own critic. This self-imposed pressure created stress as I struggled to meet the expectations I had set for myself, resulting in a skewed work-life balance where my studies took precedence over everything else.
Juggling an internship after class added another layer of difficulty, leaving little time for at-home study. Late-night sessions became the only option, potentially leading to burnout. Balancing coursework and an internship required careful time management and resilience, further underscoring the importance of finding a sustainable work routine.
To overcome these obstacles, I gradually learned to take a step back and trust the process. I realised the importance of moving away from the screen, being present, and seeking inspiration from my surroundings and conversations with others. Taking breaks proved crucial in preventing burnout and prioritising my health. Surprisingly, stepping back also led my design in alternative directions, creating outcomes I hadn’t initially considered in the beginning of the creative process. It was a lesson in patience, taking small steps, and trusting that things would always work out in the end. Despite the challenges, I enjoyed the entire journey. My passion for the project motivated consistent effort, and I learned to embrace and navigate problems, accepting that not everything could be under my control.
Was there someone (or something) that inspired you to pick Bachelor of Design Visual Communication as a career path?
Looking back, there were a few reasons to pursue a Bachelor of Design Visual Communication as a career, but initially, my path was inspired by my experiences at Cambridge High School. In years 11 to 13, I began taking classes in both photography and design.
As I progressed through my senior years, my dedication to design and photography was recognized, and this acknowledgment became a pivotal moment for me. It went beyond a simple pat on the back; it was a validation of my skills and a moment that solidified my decision to embark on a path in graphic design.
A significant highlight during this period was receiving two scholarships, one for design and another for photography. These scholarships not only acknowledged the hard work and passion I invested in my creative pursuits but also served as a testament to the enduring values of dedication and commitment that I continue to uphold to this day.
Which piece in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?
I have a lot of work that I am proud of, but no doubt my Freelance Project would be one of my favourites by far! Tote Burger was one of those projects that allowed me to experiment with a different style which I have ended up falling in love with.
The creative freedom granted by my client played a crucial role in shaping the project’s success. The client’s trust in my abilities enabled me to push boundaries and exceed expectations, creating something that went beyond the ordinary.
Tote Burger not only showcases my design skills but also represents a collaborative process that fostered innovation and artistic exploration. This experience reinforced my belief in the power of creative collaboration and the ability to push the boundaries of traditional design, ultimately resulting in work that I am exceptionally proud of. Being able to now see my designs coming to life in a real world perspective is truly rewarding, and it fuels my excitement for the possibilities of what I can achieve next.
What’s next for you?
Currently, I remain open to the possibilities ahead, understanding that the ideal role may not materialise instantly. My aspiration is to contribute my skills in a design agency setting, where collaborating with a team of creatives to advance design ideas and work towards shared goals excites me.
In terms of my career journey, I am enthusiastic about stepping into the industry and embarking on the next chapter of my design adventure. Actively applying for design jobs, I am filled with a mix of excitement and nervousness. My dream is to join a like-minded design studio that not only fosters a great team culture but is also fervent about creating expressive, engaging, and detail-driven design.
How can people get in touch or see more of your work?
I aim to set up a portfolio via website or Behance in the near future. Meanwhile, you’re welcome to explore my Instagram account @mrs_des.ign, and if you’d like to get in touch, feel free to reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org