2024 Hot New Things: Olivia Peterson, Media Design School

4 weeks ago by

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 Olivia Peterson, who recently graduated from the Bachelor of Media Design programme at Media Design School. 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?

Hey there! I’m Olivia, a designer passionate about optimising experiences. Recently, I wrapped up my Bachelor’s in Media Design majoring in Interactive Design at Media Design School. Storytelling is a skill I always strive to improve, and I thrive on weaving narratives into impactful, visually captivating designs. I love blending the creativity of design and experience together, creating compelling solutions. I’m always curious, constantly pushing the limits to tailor my creations to fit diverse design challenges. My curiosity fuels understanding the ‘why’ while drawing inspiration from the world around me.

What did your graduating project focus on?

I grew up in a religious but loving household, however strict rules limited my freedom. Because of this, discussions regarding reproductive and sexual health were not had. Consequently, my sexual education was lacking, which left gaps in my knowledge as I entered adulthood. Despite this, I’ve since educated myself through and now I want to share this knowledge with girls like me.

A significant lack of basic anatomical knowledge in women is evident, with 44% unable to locate the vagina on a medical diagram and 60% unable to identify the vulva from a recent study. This knowledge gap raises concerns about women’s ability to advocate for their healthcare needs, highlighting the importance of consistent sexual and reproductive education in schools. In New Zealand, the sexual education curriculum spans from year one to year ten, but its implementation varies across schools, often due to teacher confidence and knowledge gaps. Addressing these issues, and providing comprehensive, relatable female reproductive wellness and sexual education are crucial for improving reproductive health outcomes.

To address these challenges, I present, Girls like me: A guide to female reproductive wellness. This guide promotes self-empowerment and provides essential insights into reproductive and sexual health. The book encourages young women to embrace their womanhood and advocate for lifelong well-being. The resource pack includes an instructional brochure and vibrant stickers as positive reinforcement. The girls like me website offers a platform to explore the mission, purchase the resource pack, and access the free Ebook.

Why did you choose to study at Media Design School?

I chose Media Design School for several reasons, but what really stood out was its amazing reputation and the intimate atmosphere created by its smaller class sizes. Being able to have quality, individualised time with my lecturers was a game-changer – something that’s not easy to find elsewhere. Beyond the academics, what sealed the deal for me was the genuine warmth of everyone at MDS. The sense of community within our tight-knit cohort made the whole journey feel like a shared adventure rather than just a degree pursuit.

What did you enjoy most about your course, or what do you feel you can take away now that you’ve completed it?

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my course was the freedom to shape and mould my creations. While adhering to project briefs, I was encouraged to present solutions that were genuine, unfiltered, and born from my creativity. These ideas were backed by insights and research, teaching me a valuable lesson: creativity knows no limits when the purpose and the story behind it drive my work. Understanding this connection between narrative and purpose has been pivotal. It taught me the huge influence of a well-crafted story and purpose has in shaping a successful design solution. I’ve learned that strong foundations lay the groundwork for beautiful design solutions.

Were there any exciting or unexpected discoveries to come out of your studies?

Wow, that’s a loaded question! Throughout my studies, it felt like a continuous journey of self-discovery, revealing aspects about myself, design, and the creative industry that were completely new to me. I was thrilled to explore hidden talents I’d always longed to delve into, such as illustration and coding. Embracing leadership positions and repeatedly stepping out of my comfort zone during presentations paved the way for the confident designer I’ve become today.

What was your biggest challenge while studying and how did you overcome it?

One of the enduring challenges I faced during my studies, and likely one that will persist, is the battle against imposter syndrome and the trap of comparison.

I often remind myself that “comparison is the theft of joy,” yet I struggle at times to take my own advice. Throughout my studies, I noticed I frequently went on different design paths compared to my peers. It often had to remind myself that this difference was not only acceptable but actually beneficial. I hoped it would offer a fresh and distinct design perspective, pushing the boundaries in new directions.

Imposter syndrome plays a curious role in my daily life. On one hand, I marvel at the incredible opportunity of pursuing a career in design, almost feeling it is too good to be true. As designers, seeking inspiration is crucial for growth, but it tends to be a double-edged sword. While it provides insights, it can also create self-doubt and the longing to be as proficient as others in the field, which all the more drives me to keep learning to be a better designer everyday.

Was there someone (or something) that inspired you to pick Media Design as a career path?

As a child I had a strong imagination, always creating things and drawing designs that I would take to my Dad (who is a mechanic) to build for me while I closely watched to make sure it was done right. I took all the creative subjects through school as well as subjects that were about helping people. I always wanted to ‘help people’ for my job and the love that comes from that and my love for design in the creative industry has led me to where I am now, pursuing a path that brings the beauty of design with the ability to serve people and solve people’s problems, in terms of helping them. 

When I was a kid, my imagination was on overdrive (probably still is). I’d dream up designs and creations, then rush to my Dad, who’s a mechanic, with my sketches, making sure he built them just like I envisioned.

In school, I dove into creative classes but also explored subjects focused on helping people. I’ve always had this itch to lend a hand and make a difference. Combining this desire to assist others with my passion for creative design led me to where I am now.

I’m on this path where I can blend the beauty of design with problem-solving and storytelling. It’s about finding ways to serve people by tackling their problems creatively. That’s where my purpose lies – using design to make a real impact on others’ lives.

Which piece in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?

My final capstone project, titled ‘girls like me,’ stands as my proudest achievement so far. It symbolises not just the culmination of my learning journey but also serves as a tribute to my younger self. This project emerged from a personal experience, addressing a problem I encountered, and aimed to share my story to assist others facing similar challenges. The goal was to confront and resolve issues faced by ‘girls like me,’ transforming these obstacles into opportunities for growth and empowerment.

Throughout 16 weeks, I poured my heart into writing, illustrating, and designing a book. Venturing into publication design fulfilled a long-life dream, and I am proud of the outcome and the doors it has opened for me. ‘Girls like me’ has helped me refine my design skills within my areas of expertise. It allowed me to articulate a narrative through a purposeful design solution that I hope one day will help the younger generations. 

What’s next for you?

Right now, my immediate focus is on crafting a brand new portfolio that not only showcases my work but also narrates my journey as a creative individual. Simultaneously, I’m eager to embark on my design career, aiming to find a role that aligns with my skills and aspirations within the design world.

I am also dedicating effort to take my capstone project and have it published. The goal is to see it displayed proudly on our educators’ shelves in the near future.

How can people get in touch or see more of your work? 

I always happy to chat so feel free to reach out to my email at info@livdesignz.com or find add my on https://www.linkedin.com/in/olivia-peterson-24a8a523b/

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