Elam grad takes her art to NZ’s biggest gallery – the street

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AUCKLAND, Tuesday: We often encounter interesting tales in Phantom Billstickers’ weekly Phan Mail e-letter. This week’s edition – featuring a self-penned piece on wannabe artists and painters who still manage to hold down a proper job – is pretty cool.

Phantom managing partner Jamey Holloway says: “Quite a few art school graduates seem to wind up working at Phantom Billstickers. We like to think it’s because of our creative DNA and long-standing role as cheerleaders for New Zealand culture. And of course, it helps that we’re placing original works of art in that gallery called the street, every week of the year.

Typical of these is Roosje van der Werff, who works as creative lead out of Phantom Auckland: “I was completely besotted with this idea of becoming a painter,” she writes.

“We have a reasonably small in-house creative team at Phantom so what this involves can be incredibly varied,” she says.

“In one day I could be designing our latest print and web ads, shooting a band with their poster for social, and working with clients on an off-the-wall idea for Phantom Labs.

“I’m working on pretty much all facets of the business so there’s a lot of time spent understanding everyone’s needs and making sure everything we produce fits our brand’s values and sensibilities.”  

“I was completely besotted with this idea of becoming a painter when I was a kid. I thought it was the most romantic thing in the world and imagined myself living in Paris and eating croissants and painting every day!

“I think that I was told quite a few times by teachers and other kids that I was good at art so that pretty much sealed the deal for me. By the time I left high school I knew I loved making art and design so I headed to art school with no real idea of what I would do after that.” 

“There was a project at art school where we had to choose and research a social cause and then design and screen-print street posters for it. A couple of friends and I ended up plastering these fizzy, colourful posters all over the city. I remember feeling we were doing something super powerful and cool when I walked down the street a couple of weeks later and saw people engaging with the prints we’d made.

“Fast forward a few years, and I’d finished up with Elam and was looking for a new role. When I saw a design job going at Phantom I already knew the brand because I would stop at their K Road sites on my walk through the city every day to check out the latest artwork and gigs.

“I got a buzz from seeing my work on posters and knew this was something I wanted to have a go at. 2 1/2 years on, I’m still loving it.”

“I thought about the buzz I got from seeing my work on posters a few years earlier and knew this was something I wanted to have a go at. Two and a half years on, I’m still loving it.”

“There are heaps of campaigns that stand out. I’m a big fan of bold, simple creative, so aesthetically I really like the current Deadly Ponies and Remedy Kombucha campaigns.

“I love the interactive campaigns too. Street posters are a special advertising medium because of their ability to circumvent advertising cynicism, and adblockers, and insert themselves into the everyday experience of the viewer in a really organic way. They’re at street level, inviting you to interact, so a well-executed, interactive installation will provide a tangible reward for the participant.

“I’ve seen brands do some really cool things in this space. Lewis Road’s sampling campaign was one of my favourites. It was a simple concept executed well: reward-driven, fresh and unexpected.

Creative and interactive builds don’t have to be complicated to hit the mark.”

Can you name a client or category that’s crying out to be on street posters? “To be honest, I can’t think of many brands that wouldn’t do well with street posters. It’s a wonderful format to test the waters with your most daring creative ideas.

“I do think there’s more that designer fashion brands could do to showcase their season launches and new products. I also think tech companies often overlook the benefits of traditional out-of-home media.

“Jamey Holloway says that a person needs to see a brand message seven times to really take it in. I completely agree with this.

“In today’s over-saturated advertising climate, a campaign needs to reach people in a multitude of ways, and at different stages of their days and different states of consciousness, to really work. You can’t do that effectively if you only ever reach people when they’re killing time scrolling on their devices.”

What advice would you give someone creating their first street poster campaign? “Go big and go bold. Be clever with your messaging; consider context and think about how you can utilise the intimacy a viewer gets with street posters, that you can’t achieve with other media.

“The best campaigns reward the viewer’s attention, whether it’s with the hit you get from looking at something beautifully designed, from a good punchline or a special deal.”

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