Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Rebecca Burt ("RB") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

RB : I did a basic design course and then I worked hard from the ground up. I gained valuable knowledge and experience from many years of full-time employment in top-end design agencies. Eleven of those years was continuously at one agency, working closely with the Creative Director and learning from all the really talented designers in the team. I do not have a design degree. I have also spent time working in the screen printing industry.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

RB : I’ve always enjoyed being creative. I made and sold jewellery as a side-line business for a while, to raise money for a classic car restoration I was doing. I found it very satisfying to get paid for something I enjoyed creating. Later on I became involved in the graphic design industry which became my happy place. I find the process of creative problem solving motivating and finding creative solutions to help others rewarding.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

RB : I chose to be a designer.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

RB : I focus on strategic brand design and packaging design. I’m also a retoucher.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

RB : I’m not a design legend. Listen and never stop learning, questioning and discovering.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

RB : Great designers are good listeners ask questions and are empathetic during the design process. They think more and simplify everything.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

RB : It just works. It’s really clear and simple and you quickly understand what it’s trying to communicate. Information has been cleverly distilled down to the essence. A great design execution will make me smile.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

RB : Good design brings value to peoples lives. For example, a clear and effective wayfinding design can be the difference between getting lost or getting to your destination on time. Our everyday lives and experiences are positively enhanced with good design.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

RB : Posters or anything really for the protection and conversation of wildlife and the environment, for an organisation like National Geographic.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

RB : A project on wildlife protection.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

RB : I don’t have a secret recipe. I think being a good listener is really important and to be empathetic. Be open minded and don’t take constructive criticism personally. Always try new angles and don’t fall into the trap of ‘same old’ approach.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

RB : I like the styles of Josef Muller Brockmann and Saul Bass.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?

RB : I don’t have a greatest design, but I am fond of the Passion of the Card - Lead light Series I entered in the awards, because the beauty of this project and what makes it great is in the story. At the time of the creation of these products I was involved in a business with my then partner Evan Reiman. The design series was a range of self-promotional business cards and a memorial to Evan’s father, who was the last person in New Zealand to complete an apprenticeship in creating lead light windows. Evan’s father was an important role model in his life and taught him everything he knew about the screen printing trade. The business Flexicon is no longer in existence and I am no longer involved in these products. Sadly, Evan has now also passed – so they have now become a double memorial and tribute. Not everything we create as designers is about the hard-sell or work we can even charge for. Some are just for passion and good design is timeless.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

RB : Never stop learning and keep discovering. Be open to new ways of doing things.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?

RB : Wildlife Photographer or had an animal sanctuary.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

RB : Design is here to add value, functionality, communicate effectively and solve problems.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

RB : My Creative Director.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

RB : I listened and learnt from designers that were/are better than me. I did a basic design course, started from the bottom in the industry and worked my way up. I didn’t have a design degree (i’m not saying a degree is not valuable or important), so I worked really hard to prove myself. I made plenty of mistakes. That’s how one learns.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

RB : I’m not a design master. My biggest obstacle is believing in myself.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

RB : Clearly and showing some of the workings and thinking behind the process, so the client understands your rationale.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

RB : A packaging design range for a new product.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

RB : To see my clients thrive and my work being effective and making a positive difference for them and their businesses. I would also love to make a difference somehow, with designing messages around conservation and animal welfare.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?

RB : Professionalism, reliability and trust.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

RB : By solving problems and designing better solutions - even new ways of doing things. Design can help us engage and communicate ideals and messages better. It helps us navigate our way.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?

RB : A new packaging range.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

RB : Any project to do with animal or environmental protection as I am passionate about these things.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

RB : For more people to understand the value of good and effective graphic design and the importance of this investment in business. No more expectations of free pitching. More stringent policies around product creation and packaging for the protection of the environment.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

RB : I think augmented reality will offer more opportunities for the design industry to expand into. Traditional packaging will hopefully continue to develop new environmentally sound solutions and minimise waste.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

RB : Each project is different and timings vary.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

RB : I start by asking my client questions.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

RB : Keep learning and try new things. Enjoy the process.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

RB : I think it can work both ways, however good design is timeless.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

RB : Finalising work at final design and production stages.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

RB : I work on a Mac and mainly use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

RB : They all have a unique role to play and come together to create the whole experience.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?

RB : What is the story behind the work.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

RB : Appreciation.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

RB : I work alone, but my ideal design partner would be someone who challenges, questions and has a different design approach.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

RB : My Creative Director and co-workers is where I learned about the process of design.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

RB : I’m not a master designer. I developed my design skills at the coal face in the industry, working many years under creative direction and learning from other talented designers.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?

RB : Sir David Attenborough.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?

RB : Pretty humbled to be honest. It’s an honour to have won.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

RB : Favourite colour is pink. My favourite place is anywhere in nature (New Zealand is beautiful). I always look forward to strawberries and summer fruits. I like plant based foods. I love all seasons but would have to pick Spring. My dog is my favourite being and I don’t have a favourite brand.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

RB : Solving a design problem always feels good. I motivate and get inspiration by walking with my dog in nature.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

RB : No.

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?

RB : Make wise and responsible choices when purchasing and do what’s kind for the environment. Support local talent and businesses as much as possible.



Leadlight Series Self Promotion

Leadlight Series Self Promotion by Rebecca Burt

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