We’re the co-founders and directors of Curative, a creative agency that only works on projects that create positive social impact. We always say ‘Do what you love, love what you do’; and we’ve worked hard to create a studio, a team and a portfolio of projects that allow us to do just that. Every day we challenge ourselves to take on briefs that scare us, to talk about topics that others won’t, to start conversations that challenge people’s thinking, and to have a lot of fun doing it.
We are constantly inspired by the awesome people we get to work with; many of whom are working to tackle some of the toughest social issues we face in New Zealand. Their passion is infectious, and just chatting with them helps spark lots of our ideas. But, we also make time to go to events where we know we’ll meet and hear from interesting people. Whether it’s TEDx, CreativeMornings, Festival for the Future, The Feast, Design Assembly, Designers Institute, Semi-Permanent or something else, there is normally someone from the Curative Crew in the room soaking it all in. And, we read all sorts of blogs; 99u, Fast.co, The Cool Hunter, ffffound, juxtapoz, hi-fructose, design observer, Best Awards, Campaign Brief and even Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and good ol’ Twitter.
There have been so many lessons along the way, and we’ve tried to capture some of them on our blog - little learnings for big thinkers. But, if we could sum up the top five, they would probably be:
1. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Running a business like Curative, we’re often presented with lots of opportunities to participate in cool creative things. We’ve had to be really intentional about how we spend our time; if we tried to do everything we wouldn’t last long!
2. Make time to reflect. When you have a lot on, it can be really easy to just jump from one project to the next. But now we consciously build in time to share, and reflect on what’s worked, what hasn’t, what we’ve learnt and what we’d do differently on projects - it really strengthens our work.
3. Keep learning. The moment you think you know it all, is the moment you need to move on. We are always hungry for knowledge, and we’re always looking to try new things. This is what keeps our work fresh, and our team happy. If you’re learning, you’re growing.
4. Reframe failure. We try to make Curative a safe place to make mistakes, to experiment, and to push our skills. We’ve learnt that it’s okay to get things wrong, in fact nothing will ever be perfect. Sometimes it’s the things that don’t go quite to plan that teach you the greatest lessons.
5. Celebrate. Whether you win or lose, it’s important to celebrate the effort. A slice of cake, a glass of wine, a high-five, a dance-off or some digital detox time; we think it’s important to reward hard work, to acknowledge the people in your life, and to share the thrill and relief of completion, achievement or a personal win.
Every week we receive emails from eager comms and design students looking for internships, all willing to work for free. And while we think that is awesome, we believe that for an internship to be of value to both parties, then we need to invest our time in them. And time is at a premium here. So, rather than taking on interns year-round, we offer a Social Change summer internship once a year. This is always a paid position as we believe that everyone’s time should be valued. And, because we’re paying them, we put in the time, energy and effort to get as much out of our interns as we can. Having a focused and dedicated time for interns, makes for a much richer learning experience for everyone.
We would love it if every creative person fought for better briefs. If the questioned the intention of the work that they do, and they push for positive social outcomes. But we appreciate that commercial implications don’t always make that possible. But, we do believe that no matter what you’re working on, you can be conscious in the decisions that you do have the power to control. Think about the environmental impacts of the way you print and produce your work, consider if the packaging your designing just looks nice, or if it’s really necessary to preserve the product. As designers, we can guide the decisions of others, and help people lean toward ideas that will be better for people, planet and profit.