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 July 2019
By Anthony Behrens

Just do it.

I've always meant to make a newsletter for my business, but I've avoided doing it for a number of reasons. Amongst them:

  • It's kind of spammy
  • It feels self-centred
  • I'm busy, OK?

But...after much humming and ha-ing I've finally decided to crack open Mail Chimp and give it a go. I’ve justified this by:

  • NOT being spammy and actually asking you if I can send it to you...who knew it would be so easy!
  • I've tried to make The Mosquito, No. 1 interesting and focused on things other than my ego.
  • Sometimes it's just good to make the time to try new things...so I did.

Here goes…

Anthony Behrens

Winter testing a new Sony on Mangahuia in the Ruahine (just above Rangiwahia Hut). The white grass isn't covered in snow - it's covered in ice.

Great cameras, great service

Before the advent of really good and relatively cheap digital cameras, offering an efficient and reasonably priced photographic service wasn't really an option for designers. But technology, as it tends to do, has changed all that.
You can pick up a good mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera for less than $1000. True...its lenses will set you back more, but...they’re lenses...and lenses are fun.
When I made the decision to invest in camera gear, Sony had just brought out its Nex 7, a little mirrorless DSLR camera that was light and produced beautiful high resolution images without too much technical skill. Since then I've bought three other Sony cameras and a host of compatible lenses. Coming from newspapers where Canon and Nikon had dominated for years, I was nervous about investing in what I saw as a non-traditional and therefore untested brand of camera, but I reckon my gamble paid off.
My cameras aren't only easy to use and relatively light - they're tough, which is a good thing because I put them through hell. They have all been out with me in some of New Zealand's most inhospitable environments. They've had to suffer high humidity, alpine storms, freezing temperatures and hundreds of kms of soggy mountain river journeys.
As tough as my cameras have been, these conditions do take their toll. But it's been Sony's service team here in Palmerston North that has made my decision to go with Sony such a valuable one. I abuse my cameras and Kim and the team at Phototronic Services offer a fantastic recovery programme for my unfortunate gear. 
Phototronic Services are the only authorised New Zealand service centre for Sony digital cameras. Having them in the neighbourhood has made a scary investment in some expensive equipment a painless experience.
If you're shopping around for a good camera with great back-up service - give Sony a go.

Going native

Designing logos for a new business is a tricky job that is made a lot easier when a client knows what they want and trusts their designer to get it right. Many logos just need appropriate text styling and simple icon development, but some require illustration work that not all designers can offer.
There are some really good royalty free illustration options out there - but sometimes a client needs a bespoke illustration. This is often the case in New Zealand where our indigenous flora, fauna and language mean that icons designed in India or the US won't cut the mustard for a New Zealand brand.
SwampThing has just developed a new logo for Kristen White and her new dietician business Kōtare Wellness. The Kōtare is New Zealand's Kingfisher.
I will often use Adobe InDesign to draw icons, but when things get complicated Adobe Illustrator needs to be cranked up. Here is a visual history of the process Kristen and I went through to get things just right:

Using mācrons

Speaking of New Zealand design - macrons can be difficult when using Māori on websites. This handy site makes things simple - just click the macron you want, copy and paste.
 

I assume that this little tip will work on MailChimp too. Feel free to let me know how it goes in your browser if the example below is broken:

Manawatu vs Manawatū

The version on the right should have a macron at the end.
 

Here's an interesting story about Manawatū's macron that is a great example of how difficult it is to get it right on the web. Note that the story doesn’t contain a single macron - at least not on any of my browsers.
 

Manawatū's Macron
Print test for new clothing brand Whiowhio.nz

DTG gets good

My first story was about the changes technology has brought to the design industry. This story is about another piece of technology that's about to change things too...in the screenprinting industry.
Digital teeshirt printing has been around for years, but the quality was never that good and the price was never as competitive as traditional screenprinting.
Epsom have just changed all that with their impressive new printer the Epson Surecolor f2160. SwampThing's signwriter Graphics HQ has just bought one of these little beauties and I'm going through the testing process now. By that I mean I've had a few teeshirts printed by Sam at GHQ and my whānau and friends are doing their best to ruin them. I'm pleased to report that they've being totally unsuccessful so far.
The print quality is amazing, the colours are crisp, bright and unlike traditional screenprinting, limitless.
Graphics HQ have opened up a new print website, printroom.nz, where we can all go to order custom tees. Of course the final product is only ever as good as the original artwork...
Check out how to order a nice new custom tee here:

 

printroom/customise


BTW...you may be asking what DTG stands for...Direct to Garment of course!

This video is never going to get an Emmy...but it should give you an idea how cool the New Epson SureColor F2160 is.

The joke brand that took off

Palmy Pine Pulling Posse. Catchy huh?


The Palmy Pine Pulling Posse (PPPP) is the name of a random bunch of people who like to kill pine trees. That random bunch of people includes me. Because I’m a designer who obviously has too much time on his hands, I came up with the name and the logo as a bit of a joke - to my great surprise it's a joke that's caught on.
Since we started we have found ourselves quoted in all sorts of media and now feature in Te Papa's new Te Taiao | Nature exhibition. All going well our doings will be featuring in an up-and-coming Potton and Burton book about conservation volunteers.
There are people all over the country doing this sort of work, but giving the group an interesting name and logo seems to have given us (possibly undeserved) attention. We've only removed 10,000 pine trees from a tiny 10 hectare piece of the Ruahine Forest Park. This may sound a lot, but believe me, it's a drop in the wilding pine ocean.
Conservation work is a great antidote to my desk job, but this project has also been a really interesting insight into the power of branding in the internet age. I have no doubt that if we hadn't given ourselves an identity, very few people would have ever heard of us. Making that identity "catchy" has amplified the effect.

And now for a laugh

A quick cartoon about the "creative process" from one of my favourite clients...Brent Putze
Visit the website SwampThing made for him to read more of his cartoons here:
Putze Comics
For best results check it out on a big screen...


Design Review:

Speaking of great illustrators and design, check out the Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design
The episode about outrageously gifted illustrator Christopher Niemann (E01) is amazing. The one about graphic guru Paula Scher (E06) is as good - my favourite scene is the one where she draws a graph that explains the client/designer relationship. It's very true...but I probably shouldn't have told you that.

I skipped the episode about Tinker Hatfield - Footwear Designer - because...shoes don't really do it for me...but...don't let me stop you.

Thanks for giving up your time to read this. I hope it was useful, or at least a little entertaining.
If you think there is anything that I can improve on, or if I've done something annoying, let me know.

Feel free to unsubscribe anytime...I know you're all busy.
 
More SwampThing work
Copyright © 2019 SwampThing Design and Photography, All rights reserved.


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