Culture, heritage major focus now

Last updated 05:00 03/04/2014
Warren Pohatu
CREATIVE EYE: Warren Pohatu, 52, pictured with one of his works, has his own graphic design business, Warren Pohatu Creative.

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Warren Pohatu, 52, lives in Glen Eden with son Manaia. He talks with reporter Monica Tischler about his work as a graphic designer. 

How did you get into graphic design?

During school, my teachers showed me what it was all about.

I then studied at the Wellington Polytechnic School of Design in the early 1980s and completed a three-year degree.

Where has it taken you?

My first job was hanging pictures and designing exhibition signs at the Wellington Art Gallery.

It was a good foot in the door.

When my partner became pregnant I moved to Kawerau.

After six months of working as a labourer in the local paper mill, an advert for a graphic designer popped up.

Using a computer, I had to create training manuals by illustrating equipment like tree cutters, valves, trucks and then scan them in to the computer.

That was in 1984 and quite frankly I didn't think computers had a place in design.

I was trained to do everything with pens, paper and a ruler but over time I learned how to draw directly on the computer using Photoshop.

I've worked for Saatchi and Saatchi on a Tip Top campaign and Coca-Cola and McDonald's as well.

I've designed a couple of Happy Meal boxes.

Do you come from a creative family?

When I was 20 I was interested to know where my talent came from.

There are so many people to credit. I spent 30 years researching my genealogy and there are about eight master carvers over a few generations.

What makes a good graphic designer?

As a designer you have to handle a rejection rate of 75 per cent.

You'll pitch four ideas and three will get scrapped.

You don't have to be a good drawer, you just have to be full of good ideas.

What's the best thing about the job?

Being able to touch the minds and hearts of people - especially through my recent work of writing and illustrating books and calendars.

And the worst?

Deadlines and budgets. I was always stressed and under pressure.

Do you get to travel?

I did some work with Tahiti Tourism and I went there a couple of times a year to research and take photos.

Graphic design has heaps of opportunities because the programmes are the same anywhere in the world.

What does the future hold?

My work's done a full circle where it's now about my culture and heritage.

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I'm so passionate about my genealogy and I want to share that with my family.

I want to continue writing and illustrating books and calendars as well as doing a bit more freelance work where I can pick and choose what I do.

Visit Facebook.com and search "MaoriBoy Productions" to view Warren's work.

- Western Leader

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