2024 Hot New Things: Briea Bentham, Whitecliffe

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 Briea Bentham, who recently graduated from the Fine Art – Design programme at Whitecliffe College. 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?

I’ve always had an interest in design with everything I pursue. From creating assets in my work roles, to expressing myself through art and even lending a hand to friends with quick design favours, graphic design has been a consistent passion of mine. 

When I finished high school, I was initially drawn to being a geneticist. I embarked on a short course at Otago University, only to discover that design resonated with me on a much deeper level. The creativity, problem-solving, and expression in design captured my heart and led me to where I am today.

What did your graduating project focus on?

My final year project from Whitecliffe College was ‘Breez’, a brand of non-alcoholic beverages, Breez. Breez is committed to providing a refreshing range of non-alcoholic options for those who live very busy and energetic lifestyles with balancing work, socialising, friends, family, exercise and self-care. Drinking can interfere with someone’s ability to reach their full potential. The main mission of Breez is to demonstrate that drinking at social gatherings is not essential and that you can have non-alcoholic drinks and still have fun.

Why did you choose to study at Whitecliffe?

I chose to study at Whitecliffe because of my deep admiration for the institution and the remarkable art its students consistently produce. Ever since my mum and I used to drive past the campus in Parnell, I was captivated by the beautiful building and intrigued by the creative energy coming from within. While exploring various educational options, I found myself continually drawn to Whitecliffe.

What truly set Whitecliffe apart for me was its emphasis on smaller class sizes and the opportunity for more personalised interaction with lecturers. In my first semester, being immersed alongside fellow fine art students in core classes provided a solid foundation in the fundamental principles of fine art. These principles became the foundation which I could build and refine my artistic journey throughout my time at Whitecliffe.


Moreover, the diverse range of courses and electives offered added an exciting dimension to my studies. Exploring subjects like screen printing, delving into the history of design, dissecting pop art, and unravelling famous art movements not only expanded my knowledge but also infused a sense of joy and exploration into my educational journey.

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

What I enjoyed most about my course and what I can take away now that I’ve completed it is the immense confidence I’ve gained in my design abilities and in crafting effective brand identities through visual elements. The support from our lecturers helped me understand how to integrate typography, colour, imagery, and other elements to represent a brand’s values cohesively. Learning this process was both inspiring and fulfilling. Now, I feel prepared to tackle real-world design challenges with creativity and strategy, knowing I can create meaningful visual experiences that resonate with audiences. This course has not only improved my design skills but also deepened my understanding of branding, leaving me with a sense of purpose and fulfilment in translating abstract concepts into tangible visual identities.

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

During my studies, I discovered a passion for packaging design. My projects KIWI BBQ, Malthouse and Breez became exciting as I was able to create unique visual brands that I hadn’t been able to before. From creating the logo to figuring out how to package the products became a fun challenge to navigate. With the help of my lecturers, I was given amazing pointers and tips to make them more effective. 

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

Choosing a project that truly inspired me was a major challenge during my studies. Despite having many ideas, I struggled to find one with enough substance to last the semester and make a significant impact. Additionally, managing my time was tough, especially during my final year when I worked 40 hours a week alongside completing my final project. To overcome these hurdles, I tried to complete as much work as possible with the lectures in the studio, prioritising tasks, and making time in the weekend to finish any outstanding work for the week. 

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

Yes, my inspiration for choosing graphic design as a career path began from my design teacher during intermediate school. She recognized my talent and advanced me with more specialised design projects. As I worked on these projects, designing things for my school and winning competitions and awards, my passion for design ignited.

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

The piece in my portfolio that I’m most proud of is KIWI BBQ. It stands out as my first branding project at Whitecliffe, where we were tasked with creating a distinct chicken wing brand within a unique niche. Drawing from my New Zealand background, I found inspiration in the concept of Kiwiana-flavoured chicken, which I believed would be a captivating selling point. Once I conceptualised the brand, the surrounding imagery including the logo, colours, patterns, and overall look and feel fell into place seamlessly, fueling my pride in the project’s cohesive and compelling execution.

What’s next for you?

What’s next for me involves a combination of freelance work for clients and my role as a designer at Metlifecare. I’m committed to continuous growth, actively developing my skills and growing my understanding of design. I’m also working on personal projects with the goal of selling my designs in the future. Looking ahead, I aspire to collaborate with brands and ultimately establish my own design company specialising in brand design and packaging.

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

To see more of my work and get in touch, you can explore my portfolio www.brieabenthamdesign.com, which showcases a variety of projects. Feel free to reach out to me via email at brieabentham@gmail.com with any questions or inquiries. I’m always happy to connect and discuss my work further.

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