We speak with Luke Johnston, Creative Director at BrandAid. Luke tells us how he convinced a studio to let him come work after hours to build his folio up until he got his break with them. He also tells us some lovely advice for young designers not to be too hard on themselves – Your taste in design will probably outdo your ability for sometime. Just keep pushing!
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design? Both my Grandfathers were amazing with wood so they were constantly creating things which always fascinated me, and I have always enjoyed the creative process. I remember making walky-talkies with my brother made out of bits of wood and drawing on all of the buttons and speaker grills, for some reason they never worked that well though, unless you talked really loudly. I guess I have always been creative so I don’t remember ever making a conscious decision to take this direction, it just naturally happened.
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started? After finishing studying in design I worked making pizzas (and drank too much) for 6 months, which lead me to realise that perhaps this was not a wise career option. From there, I convinced a company to let me come in and use their computers at night in order to build up a portfolio of work. The Creative Director would see me in there at all hours of the night working away and eventually suggested that maybe I should come in during the day.
Are you involved in any mentoring/teaching/workshops and if and how it shapes your practice? Yes I guest lecture at the Otago Polytechnic and sit on the permanent external advisory committee. I always find lecturing really interesting as it is the only time when I step away from my work and talk about what I do, so it gives me a different perspective, which is always good.
Tell us about any collaborations you have been working on. We put a team of people together for each project based on the skill sets required, so collaboration is the norm. The people work with are all over the place, we are currently working on a project with a team of people based in Dunedin, Sydney and Auckland.
What advice would you give students starting out? Your design taste will probably outstrip your design ability for the first few years. I look back and cringe at some of the work I did when I was younger and I am still never totally happy with anything I produce, but I guess thats why I am still doing it, so don’t be too hard on yourself but at the same time keep pushing yourself to do better.