Featured Graduates

Richard M. Burson

May 2015

We chat with Richard M.Burson a young gun creative at McCarthy Design in Christchurch. Richard who completed his degree at CPIT tells us why we need to stop cluttering our minds with design porn, how he became ambidextrous and what a typical day at McCarthy looks like!

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I studied at CPIT school of Art & Design here in Christchurch. It was a good time. I did break my collarbone for the second time modelling for a photo shoot there though. Had to get a metal plate and a bunch of screws put in straight after graduation. Because of that it kind of ruled out getting a job in a studio during my six month recovery.

So I took on freelance work. I’d meet clients via Skype and leave out the detail that one of my arms was completely unusable. I only charged for half of my hours while I taught myself to design left handed. I even managed to struggle through an illustration job. And it worked out pretty well. By the time I was out of my sling I had a good bit of work to show and got picked up by Strategy Design & Advertising soon after as my first studio job.

Tell us about where you are today and what you love about your job!

Today, I am at McCarthy Design. I’ve just clicked over one year here actually. We’re based in a beautiful loft space in town. We share the space with a bunch of other creative kids and a small pack of dogs. As well as the work coming out of the studio, the culture of the place stood out to me when I was approached by the owner and creative director, Stephen McCarthy. Put simply, I’d say we’re good people doing good work. The love of the craft sits perfectly along side the love for a good laugh. And as much as that’s something I love about my job, it’s obvious our clients love it too.

What does a typical working day include for you right now?

It’s actually quite hard to sum up a regular working day here. It will always start with coffee, checking the news, a few specific design blogs, and clearing out emails, but from there on out each day can look totally different.
I’ve had days where we’ve all been so slammed with work the only way to get through was to drop tools and go bowling. There will be days where I’m jumping from meeting to meeting receiving briefs, presenting creative, and eating sushi. Other days I’ll be out of the studio directing shoots. But the majority of days I’m in with the team designing, talking smack, throwing small tennis balls to dogs and having a cheeky 4pm vino.

What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?

1. To make it in this world, you have to really want it.
2. Do your best to get yourself on the path you want to be walking along in ten years time. Make time to test the waters and put yourself in different situations to find what sits right. You may find the path for you is different to the one you’re currently on.
3. A project with a good budget doesn’t inherintly have a better chance at producing good creative. Never rule out the little guys just because they don’t have as many tokens.
4. Just because there’s a Red Bull fridge behind you doesn’t mean you have to drink them all. That’s written literally but read it metaphorically if you like.
5. Be nice and work hard. Being a dickhead doesn’t have to be in a designer’s job description.

What advice would you give students starting out?

Three things.
One: Don’t be too precious with your work.
Two: If you truly believe in your idea, stand up for it.
And three: Work faster.

The first two may sound contradicting, but they’re not. When concepting ideas, go broad; don’t find one idea and grow emotionally connected. Because it might be shit and then you’re going to feel like someone told you your baby is ugly. Look at all ideas and prove that the one you believe in is the right one. Do your research, do your work, and let the other ideas only strengthen and prove the better ones are the right direction.
And the third one is crucial. You may think your eight week deadlines are unreasonable, but those are unheard of in the real world. And I think that’s a good thing. Half the allocated time or double your creative roll out. You wont get bogged down in the research faze, cluttering your mind with design porn. You’ll instead teach yourself to be more productive with your time and have more work to show when your competing for those junior creative roles.






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