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With Mahitahi, the partners wanted a brand identity that emphasised connection and collaboration. They approached Luke at the beginning of 2018 upon a recommendation by Bachelor of Arts and Media tutor Klaasz Breukel.
Luke took to the task with energy, drawing on his Māori heritage to come up with the resulting logo, inspired by flax weaving. For Luke the chosen design represents the unity and strength of the Nelson community.
The project was the perfect start to a productive and successful year for the go-getter which saw him develop close to 10 brand identities and a handful of clean and contemporary vector illustrations for his final project before graduation.
Coming up with ideas seems to be no trouble for Luke who relishes the process of stripping a message down to its essential meaning. “I love contemporary design where it’s very clean and very cleanly laid out,” he says.
Influenced by pioneers like New Zealand illustrator Greg Straight, Luke says he’s found his niche with vector illustration. “I like the commercial aspects of it,” he says. “I enjoy art that serves both a purpose and communicates with the public. That’s what I’m interested in doing with my work.”
As well as his work with Mahitahi Colab Luke developed the brand identity for the annual BAM art exhibition. The striking yellow and black loudspeaker design literally and figuratively amplifies the work of NMIT design and art students, of which Luke is a part of.
Each project had its highs and lows, but Luke says they helped him become a better communicator. “I’ve taken on more client work and each time you just get better and better at communicating your vision across to the client. It’s a conversation but it’s also a negotiation, definitely. The client may have a certain idea in mind but you may have something different. It’s about learning how to communicate how your idea would benefit them the most.”
Did we mention he’s only 21 years old? Oh, and that he has juggled study alongside a part time job with Speedy Signs on Haven Road?
Luke enrolled at NMIT under the Half a Degree for Free deal for students who are one or two years out of school. “I thought that was a great opportunity and it saved me a lot of money for sure.”
It’s been a “steady climb” from first year tertiary student to graphic design graduate. He arrived with a love of drawing but had “zero experience” before enrolling on the three year programme. His work today is illustrative, crisp and includes animation - a digital production technique he took to from day one onward.
“The great thing about Level 5 is you do experiment in and try out a bunch of classes that you may have not tried before,” he says. “I learnt a lot in my first year, especially about software and programmes that I use a lot today.”
Luke says that study became more self-directed from Level 6 onward. “You have all this freedom to choose and develop your own projects across the semester and then they start to introduce you to exhibitions which is something that most artists will come across.”
What will Luke miss most about his time at NMIT? “My classmates,” he says. “I feel like I’ve created friends that will be friends for life.”
Luke leaves NMIT with a startling portfolio of work and a massive head start but he remains cool, calm and collected about the future. “Now is when the real stuff begins," he says.