2024 Hot New Things: Catherine Pascual, AUT

1 month 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 Catherine Pascual, who recently graduated from the Communication Design programme at Auckland University of Technology. 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!! My name is Catherine Pascual and I’m a young designer and marketer from New Zealand with a Filipino heritage. My creative mind is constantly buzzing, and I have a deep passion for visual communication. Over the past three to four years, I’ve had the privilege of working on various design and strategic marketing projects alongside talented individuals and esteemed clients. 

When it comes to design, my style can be described as vibrant, organised, and meticulously detailed. I have a profound appreciation for analog methods of work, such as screen printing, drawing and painting. Moreover, I find immense excitement in delving into the realms of branding and image-making but I’m eager to explore new horizons and follow my curiosity wherever it may lead. Thank you for viewing my creative journey so far, and I hope you enjoy exploring my work.

What did your graduating project focus on?

“To Begin Again and Again” is a practice-led design project that visualises virtue formation through an illustrative narrative. Specifically, the project explores the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. The story portrays the researcher’s experiences and challenges in learning the cardinal virtues by encountering four symbolic animals and navigating through her flaws. The theoretical contexts in which the research is situated include Catholicism and psychological habit formation.

While the tale addresses the reality of human imperfection, it is ultimately one of hope, encouraging the reader to view human vices (defined as bad habits or mistakes) more opportunistically and forgivingly. It advocates for perseverance, rather than perfection, of virtue formation – a reminder that is more important than ever in a high-standard society

Why did you choose to study at Auckland University of Technology?

To be honest, AUT was my plan B but hey,  hear me out;  sometimes those turn out to be the best options you could have ever chosen. However, my original pursuit was an engineering degree at Auckland University. In my final year of high school, I became conflicted and in the final moments of 2019, I decided to completely switch everything and study design and business at AUT because I had heard great things in terms of practical application and experience. And it was the best decision I had ever made.

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

Off the top of my head, absolutely the people. All my teachers and peers whom I’ve met over the 3 years have been nothing but a pure joy to work with. I’ve met some of my closest life-long friends and loved ones on this creative journey and I’ve expanded my skills to an extent that wouldn’t have been possible without the plethora of talent surrounding me. I think it was important for the teachers to embed a sense of collaboration in our studios without that crippling sense of competitiveness and comparison. Everyone had their unique design skill sets whether it was typography, publication design or image-making etc. Everyone was so open to helping each other get over the finish line with some pretty amazing work. It’s been an absolute honour to see my cohort become star designers and I just can’t wait to see where their futures take them.

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

In my final semester, I dug up my passion for creative writing and fused that with my love for illustration to create a book for children (but really, it could be any age). Despite being one of the most challenging times of my studies, I came to realise that I truly loved storytelling. The art of taking a concept and distilling it into a beautifully simple message for all to understand was such a fulfilling process. I didn’t think I would love creating books so much as I thought I was going to land in a branding realm with my marketing background. But hey, that’s just the beauty of an undiscovered plan B, isn’t it?

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

At the end of almost every semester, I would hit a roadblock due to my perfectionism tendencies and I think this is a challenge that a lot of designers go through. I would hyper-fixate on details so much that it would begin to affect other aspects of my life. Though it took a while to realise this, I started to train myself to accept when my work was good enough and not perfect because perfection will always be unattainable. Though it’s still a work in progress, I’ve become much better at letting go of end results and being happy with giving a project my best try, considering the time, energy and resources available to me then.

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

In high school, I was inspired by my teacher who also studied at AUT because she believed in me and helped me to consider design as a study path. During the actual study period at AUT, it was all my teachers and peers who inspired me to push the pursuit. It was the constant immersion in creative work, in listening to their experiences, in listening to feedback and improving and in that constant collaboration that I spoke of before that made me think: oh yeah this is where I want to be and what I want to do. I want to help people in any way I can with people who have the same drive and intention.

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

My latest book, “To Begin Again and Again”. It was a wonderful brief because we had the freedom to explore topics that we were interested in and I had the opportunity to explore an area within my life that is really important to me. I think the outcome was simple but for the people that have read it so far, it served as a reminder of hope and forgiveness and hearing that was all I wanted out of that project.

What’s next for you?

Well! I still have a marketing internship left to go for my business degree! But after that? No idea. Just kidding, kind of. I’ll see if I want to pursuit being a teaching assistant at AUT for one semester but then after that, I want to get some industry experience and try to land a junior designer job at a studio. On the side, I want to work on more books.

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

I’d say the main platform would be my Behance account (https://www.behance.net/catherinepascual) where you’ll see all my university work! If you want to read more about my graduate project, here’s the 2023 AUT Art and Design online exhibition: https://artanddesign.aut.ac.nz/student-work 

Otherwise, flick me a message on LinkedIn or Instagram (cath_pascual) saying you came from Design Assembly! I’ll always be happy to chat.

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