Beyond the Software

Preparing for real-world success as a creative professional

Creative professionals are master craftspeople of the digital world.

In the same way that a builder is a master of the hammer and nail, creative professionals must be masters of the computer software and hardware used in their line of work.

For a digital designer, that might include a Macbook Pro with the latest Adobe Creative Suite.

For a CGI specialist, it might be a high-spec computer equipped with render farm technology.

For a photographer or videographer, it includes the latest camera equipment and editing software. 

There’s no question that it’s important for creatives to be skilled in the tools of the trade. 

That’s why NMIT makes sure Creative Industries students get plenty of hands-on experience with the latest tools and technologies.

Our award-winning Creative Industries building has high-spec computer labs, workshops, a professional music recording studio, a video production room and more.

NMIT Design Tutor Stefan Hanspach says while it’s important for students to learn how to use the instruments that are relevant to their industry, there’s much more to becoming a successful creative professional.

“Being able to use the tools of the trade is important,” he says.

“But a creative professional must go beyond these tools.”

Training the creative muscle

Hanspach says the tools - software and hardware - are simply ways of bringing creativity to life.

A camera can’t create a movie without a filmmaker. A guitar can’t create music without a guitar player. A piece of software can’t create a website without a designer.

So while the tools are essential, Hanspach says creativity is the most important skill students develop at NMIT.

“I think what we teach is more the creativity - being creative. Then we use the tools to apply creativity.”

Hanspach has more than 20 years’ experience in the Creative Industries, both in his homeland of Germany and in New Zealand.

He founded his own design agency in Berlin in 2000 and has experience in industrial, product, and graphic design.

Creativity has been the common thread throughout his successful career, which is why he’s so passionate about teaching NMIT students how to tap into their own.

For some students, creativity comes naturally. But others have to work a bit harder to unlock their creative potential.

American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said: “You can’t use up creativity, the more you use, the more you have”.

NMIT provides the perfect environment for students to experiment with different art forms, explore new ideas, and exercise their creative muscles.

Tutors encourage students to express themselves creatively - whether it be through music, art, design, photography, or writing - so that it becomes second nature.

NMIT offers 22 Creative Industries programmes and another 20 short courses, many of which are available online.

The wide range of programmes and flexible study options means there’s something for everyone, from complete beginners to more experienced learners.

Students don’t only learn theory and technical skills at NMIT, they actively use their skills to create.

For example, music students don’t only learn how to operate a recording studio. They actually create and perform original music.

Graphic design students don’t only learn how to use Photoshop. They create their own digital images and designs from scratch.

NMIT Bachelor of Arts and Media graduate Luke Hippolite had already developed a portfolio of commercial graphic design work before completing his studies.

It’s common for NMIT Creative Industries students to graduate with a body of work that they can show to prospective employers or clients, giving their career a boost from the beginning.

Students also have opportunities to showcase their work publicly in NMIT’s on-campus gallery.

The art of communication

The other skill that’s essential for becoming a successful creative professional is communication, Hanspach says.

As a designer, he had to learn how to communicate effectively with clients so that he could clearly understand briefs, produce what they wanted, and present the finished product.

“Being able to interpret and respond to real-world briefs, to understand what the client wants, is a key skill that is needed to turn a creative talent into a profession,” Hanspach says.

Without communication skills, it is difficult to get steady work as a creative professional.

On a recent NMIT webinar, called Opportunities in the Creative Industries, graphic designer Bryce Wastney said creative professionals have to see themselves as problem solvers first and foremost.

“Just to be clever with graphics and a camera doesn’t necessarily instantly turn into the phone ringing and you getting job opportunities.

“You need to understand what a client needs you to do, what the problem is that they need you to help solve. At the end of the day, you’re helping solve problems.”

NMIT understands the importance of communication to a successful career in the Creative Industries.

Our core Creative Industries programmes, including the Bachelor of Arts and Media and the New Zealand Diploma in Arts and Design, include dedicated communication courses.

Students learn how to investigate and apply digital communication strategies in a contemporary creative industry environment.

A real-world education

Hanspach says NMIT works with the local community to source real-world creative briefs for students, which requires them to put their communication skills into practice.

“We sometimes give them real briefs and those real briefs can be done in consultation with a real client,” he says.

For example, graphic design students at NMIT have worked on real briefs for clients such as Nelson City Council, local schools, and community events.

This requires students to work within the constraints of a real brief, which includes communicating with clients, presenting completed projects, and meeting deadlines.

“One thing that's really important is to be prepared for a presentation that you give to a client and knowing what the relationship is between yourself, as the creative person or designer, and the client,” Hanspach says.

Image of Luke Hippolite
Luke Hippolite with graphic design work for Mahitahi Colab

Hippolite learned about the importance of communication first-hand when he worked on real-world briefs while studying graphic design at NMIT.

He was assigned several briefs from real clients, including Nelson business venture Mahitahi Colab and NMIT’s annual BAM art exhibition, during his final year of study.

He says every project helped him to 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.”

The projects that students work on in class are also designed to simulate real-world briefs as closely as possible.

It all comes back to NMIT’s commitment to preparing work-ready and world-ready graduates.

NMIT also has special courses in critical thinking where students learn to critique and analyse creative works.

Through presenting their work to tutors and fellow students, they learn how to provide feedback and critique effectively, which helps to further develop their communication skills.

It’s clear that becoming a creative professional is about much more than mastering the tools of the trade.

It’s about learning how to harness creativity, communicate effectively with clients, and produce high-quality work within set constraints.

At NMIT, you get a well-rounded education that prepares you for real-world success as a creative professional.

You won’t only graduate with a valuable qualification, you’ll have the practical skills and knowledge that are needed to launch your Creative Industries career.

Close drawer

a page loading spinner