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Interview with Rebecca Burt

Home > Designer Interviews > Rebecca Burt

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Rebecca Burt (RB) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Rebecca Burt by clicking here.

Interview with Rebecca Burt at Sunday 3rd of May 2020
Rebecca Burt
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
RB: I didn’t always want to be a designer – I took art at school but I didn’t know much about the design industry when I was a teenager and it wasn’t discussed as a career option at school. I was always creative but my interests were diverse. I thought I may like to be a Wildlife Photographer, work with horses or animals or be an Aircraft Engineer. In my earlier years I made and sold jewellery as a side-line business for a while, to raise money for a classic car restoration I was doing. I found it very satisfying to get paid for something I enjoyed creating. Later on I became involved in the graphic design industry which became my happy place. I did a basic design course and then I worked from the ground up. I do not have a design degree. I gained valuable knowledge and experience from many years of full-time employment in top-end design agencies. Eleven of those years was continuously at one agency, working closely with the Creative Director and learning from all the really talented designers in the team.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
RB: Kotare was formed in 2012. I work for myself but I have a really great network of talented folks I can pull together for larger projects. The main focus of the work is strategic brand identity design and packaging design for smaller and medium sized businesses. I am also an experienced retoucher and I really enjoy this side of the practice. I’ve had over 20 years experience in FMCG markets so this is where Kotare focus generally. Retouching is very specialised and not often required by my business clients, so I sometimes worth with other design agencies if they need that service.

FS: What is "design" for you?
RB: Good design brings value to peoples lives, it helps us navigate our way. Good design adds functionality, helps us to communicate effectively and solve problems.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
RB: I love packaging design because it’s tactile. Any project that focuses on messages of environmental protection and animal welfare are very satisfying because i’m passionate about these causes.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
RB: I don’t have a favourite, but I am fond of the Passion of the Card - Lead light Series I entered in the awards, because the beauty of this project is in the story. At the time of the creation of these products I was involved in a business with my then partner Evan Reiman. The design series was a range of self-promotional business cards and memorial to Evan’s father, who was the last person in New Zealand to complete an apprenticeship in creating lead light windows. Evan’s father was an important role model in his life and taught him everything he knew about the screen printing trade. The business Flexicon is no longer in existence and I am no longer involved in these products. Sadly, Evan has now also passed – so they have now become a double memorial and tribute. Not everything we create as designers is about the hard-sell or work we can even charge for. Some are just for passion and good design is timeless.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
RB: A subsidiary logo I think.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
RB: Apple products.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
RB: There are no particular times I feel the most creative. Going out in nature will help me to feel inspired.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
RB: The idea behind the work. I spend a lot of time thinking and getting the strategy right first.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
RB: Depends on how the project is going.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
RB: It always feels really satisfying when a design project is realised. It feels good to see a client happy and rewarding to know I have created something useful for them.

FS: What makes a design successful?
RB: It just works. Take a brand identity for example – It’s really clear and simple and you quickly understand what it’s trying to communicate. Information has been cleverly distilled down to the essence. A clear and effective wayfinding design can be the difference between getting lost or getting to your destination on time.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
RB: Do I understand clearly what it’s communicating? Has it solved a problem or delivered a solution? Is it aesthetically balanced and pleasing?

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
RB: Very important. It’s not just about aesthetics, how will the design influence the audience? Be sensitive to cultures and ethical practices – do your research. Environmental protection is everyone’s responsibility. Clients usually give the briefs and have a lot of influence in the final outcome of a project, so discussions of sustainability are important conversations they should be having with their designers.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
RB: I think Augmented reality will offer more opportunities for the design industry to expand into. Traditional packaging will hopefully continue to develop new environmentally sound solutions and minimise waste.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
RB: I get inspired by walking in nature and around the neighbourhood or city - this is where I try to get ideas flowing first and inspiration comes out of left field.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
RB: I don’t really know how to describe it – I think it’s quite structured and simplified.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
RB: I was born and live in New Zealand. It is very beautiful and we have a rich cultural heritage. I have had briefs where clients have specifically wanted to incorporate or represent an aspect of our culture or landscape beauty into the work. It’s a special place and they wanted that to resonate. The level of design talent here is very high and we have a lot of amazing design studios and incredibly talented people, and this is definitely a positive environment for any designer working here. New Zealand is a long way from a lot of other countries – in a positive way this has created a culture where we are creative, resourceful and problem solvers, but the opportunity to travel to other places for design inspiration and exploring can be limiting - this would be the only disadvantage.

FS: How do you work with companies?
RB: I always listen and ask lots of questions first. They know their business better than I do. If it is appropriate, don’t just take a brief and charge for work done – first find out what problems they are trying to solve and have discussions around that. They may have assumed that refreshing their brand or even overhauling it could fix lagging sales, but that may not solve their problem and their money may be better spent in other areas such as their online purchasing experience. A design partner isn’t just about creating visual assets - it’s about providing effective solutions for their business.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
RB: A good designer will listen, question, challenge & solve. You’re paying for their intellectual creativity and ability to create effective solutions in a timely manner. I think It’s important for the designer to be empathetic during the design process and open minded. Be wary of any designer who claims to know ‘exactly what your new logo will look like’ after the first meeting. The work is about your company - not how it will look in their portfolio.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
RB: My 1962 Ford Consul Capri would have to be my favourite item, and I do love my mac.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
RB: Listen and never stop learning, questioning and discovering.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
RB: Being paid to do what I love and making a positive difference to my clients businesses is very satisfying. It can be frustrating if you engage a new client who doesn’t want to prepare a proper brief for a project and has a ‘just do it’ attitude - you can’t come up with solutions if you don’t know the problems, or even know the story behind it.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
RB: Keep it simple. Don’t overwork it.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
RB: Creativity, communication, listening, typography, colour theory, composition.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
RB: Nature and the outdoor environment to think - this can include gallery visits or anywhere i’m drawn to. Web to search information. Pen and paper to sketch ideas and create. Photoshop and Illustrator for building.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
RB: That entirely depends on the project.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
RB: “How much does it cost to design a logo?”

FS: What was your most important job experience?
RB: Eleven years at the same agency, learning from the best and how all the processes worked. This gave me a solid foundation to move forward.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
RB: Mainly small and medium sized businesses. I can also work with other agencies when I do retouching projects.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
RB: I love packaging design because it’s tactile. Any project that focuses on messages of environmental protection and animal welfare are very satisfying because i’m passionate about these causes.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
RB: Keep on designing and broaden my horizons. I would like to travel to Scandinavia one day. Some of my ancestors are from Norway – a book was written about their migration to New Zealand in 1873, so i’m really interested in learning more about this part of the world and their design culture – some beautiful graphic design has come from Denmark, so I would like to visit there.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
RB: I work on my own. I can organise a team for larger projects if needed.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
RB: I can’t as they are client-confidential.

FS: How can people contact you?
RB: Through my website www.kotarecreative.com or SM Channels.


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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