Creative Talk with Rebekah Taylor, Creative Director of Rise Creative
Rise are an agency with a focus on sustainability, eco-packaging and social change. We find out when Rebekah had her epiphany moment, her career journey via New York, the creation of Rise & Shine to where her career and life with Rise is today.
At what point in your life did you have your epiphany moment that design was going to be your career?
As a child I wrote a note saying that I would be a designer when I grew up & put it inside a time capsule (an ice cream box) to be opened 10 years later. So I guess I always knew that is what I wanted to be, designing from an early age.
How did Rise Creative come about?
I first visited New York at 18 years old and subsequently moved there at 19 years old. For me NYC is the mecca of design, music and art culture in the world. I studied at School of Visual Arts in Manhattan specialising in Design, Photography and Web Design. I was part of an amazing community of artists, musicians and breakdancers in New York City. When I returned to New Zealand I started a creative community called Rise & Shine with my buddy Morgan Hammond. Rise & Shine curated many events involving performances from live musicians, DJs, artists, fashion designers and dancers. This went on to inspire a community programme through Rise Creative. We hosted a yearly event where youth from low socioeconomic areas in Auckland can learn artistic skills from some incredible artists we know.
Rise the name came from my half of that dynamic duo – Rise & Shine. Rise – the design agency started in 2009 after working with various design agencies in NZ & overseas.
Your work and design style is quite distinctive, do you look for clients who will suit your design?
Our design style is fine arts based as I have fine arts training. I prefer to collect art books over design books for inspiration. At design school, the teachers regularly asked if I would prefer to be a visual artist as I always pushed the boundaries of the traditional medium. For example, I made a book inside a block of resin and another ‘book’ as a revolving billboard.
Fundamentally we are storytellers and our medium is whatever we feel best suits telling the brand story. Our clients are mostly in the music, entertainment and fashion, or natural health and architectural industries. All of our clients appreciate the textural element we bring to the brand and design solutions.
Most of our clients have come to us from recommendations from other clients and friends. We also approach potential clients that have a sustainable ethos and display integrity through their product or service. Rise is about using our powers for making positive social and environmental change.
Rise Creative enjoys working collaboratively on projects. Do you have a regular team of collaboratives or seek out new collaborators project dependent?
We have been very blessed to meet and work with some incredibly talented people. We work with various illustrators, story tellers (copywriters), cultural advisors, developers, typographers and marketing geniuses throughout our work. The way we compile our team depends on what the concept is and how we can tell the brand story through the best medium. We do have a regular pool of people we work with, however we are always keen to meet new people and collaborate with them if the shoe fits.
Do you envisage growing your core team?
Yes we are in another growth phase and searching for designers and someone to lead our creative team. We are looking for people that are passionate about changing the world in a good way.
Do you have a mentor you call on? Or a mentor figurehead in the industry who inspires you?
I am incredibly inspired by Elon Musk. He is so intelligent and is utilising technology as a sustainable platform through solar energy and innovative transport system designs. I also am inspired by artists working with nature, such as Alan Goldsworthy. I wrote my thesis on divine design - design inspired by nature. I am blown away by the mathematical forms in space and seed formations having the same pattern of growth form. Historic graphic designers such as Tibor Kalman have been so influential and I love the humour in Genevieve Gauckler’s characters. Local NZ artist Anna Leyland (who was part of Rise & Shine) shows a very refined balance between design and art and is super talented.
We have had the privilege to work with Johnson Witehira, a Maori graphic artist has brought great cultural knowledge and such a high level of design to our collaborational work.
Ahh so many inspirations! I have learnt so much working within the local industry with Rachel Doughty from One Design, Grenville Main from DNA and I am inspired by my family – my father who runs 12 businesses and loves it & my brother who is an incredible children’s book writer. Rachael Clark – my design partner has been so great to work with, we feed off each other conceptually.
Let’s talk work and family. The balance is very important to you. How easy it is to find the balance?
It is hard! But we make it work. My children inspire me, my older daughter has an incredible imagination and she is more talented than me, artistically, than I was at her age. My little daughter, who is four, is very aware and still sees nature as magical.
If you could, would you change the course or path you have taken in your career?
Nope, I love what I do.
If you could pick any career / job, what would it be?
Besides design... I did want to be like Scully on the X-Files who investigated science fiction phenomena.
What would be your favourite project to date?
Great Barrier Island Environmental Trust Brand Identity. I loved travelling with my family to Great Barrier Island and presenting the Trust’s brand identity.
Being able to see the native birds and witness the untouched, beautiful landscape was truly special. Every one of us threw up on the boat over to the island, except me, so I presented to twenty people covered in baby spew. They didn’t seem to notice and loved the design.
What advice would you give graduates / design students who are about to embark on their own journey?
Read, research and find out as much as you can about the backstory before even putting a pen to paper. The richness of a brand story is in the history and the nuances of where it came from.
2018 will be….
Exciting! We have some great projects on the go and seem to have established a niche and a name for ourselves in industries working with sustainability, eco-packaging and social change. We are passionate to keep building the 21st century skills of empathy, collaboration and critical thinking. Oh and lots of break dancing!