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Art and Design

Talia Brown

Was there a moment, or story behind the first time you fell in love with design?

As a kid I was always drawing or making stuff. I remember my older sister used to write stories for us and I’d illustrate them. Then in high school I had Ian George as my art teacher for three years in the Cook Islands. I loved his class - any spare time I had I was in there trying to be an artist.

What role does creativity play in your life – from graphic design to other forms?

Creativity is play and fun, it’s a way to unwind and release. You can get everything out of your head and make something new, something beautiful, or interesting at least.

I still like making stuff and have been getting back into painting and sketching now that the kids are older. Love getting out with my camera. I generally have something on the go – like this summer I’ve had a bunch of sewing projects with my mum, sisters, and daughters.

What is a highlight of designing for you?

The first time you do something new and then see it out in the wild is always a buzz. Like the first billboard I worked on, or website, or book cover. Seeing people respond to work I’m proud of is really satisfying.

On inspiration – where do you find it, personally and creatively?

Personally, it can be anything really⁠—something I’ve seen on a walk, a poem or book I’ve read, a piece of music. My kids spark a lot of ideas too. Creatively, in the last few years I’ve loved working with and learning from Raymond Sagapolutele, Emily Mafileo, Elizabeth Kumaran and the other artists who are part of the ManaRewa collective. Renee Bevan, my jewellery tutor, is amazing. If you can get into her classes at Nathan Homestead, you should.

What is a piece of music (or musician or song) that has made an impact on you?

It’s hard to pick just one! So many songs are associated with events and have stories that go with them, haha. Nineties hip hop and RnB are a staple. Jazmine Sullivan, H.E.R., Giveon, Isaiah Rashad are all in heavy rotation lately.

In terms of getting through the last couple of years, which have been pretty rough, I’ve leaned on worship music like Hillsong United’s Another in the Fire or PJ Morton’s All in his plan.

What is a piece of advice for people interested in starting out in creative pursuits in New Zealand?

Just do it. Just start. Don’t be scared to try. Be open to feedback but be true to you.

Is it important to you to buy local / Made in New Zealand products?

It’s especially important now with the impact of Covid. There are so many talented, local, indigenous makers and business owners with beautiful, high-quality products and services. They need our support. You have no idea what a difference one sale can make to a small local business.

What does community look like to you?

Community, to me, is doing life with others – it’s being there for each other to support, celebrate, mourn with, laugh with. It’s knowing people have got your back and making sure you’ve got theirs.

How do you relax and find a sense of balance in life?

I’ve learnt to carve time out for me, doing things that I like and refresh me. That might be a walk or run, it might be a creative project, or catching up with a girlfriend. Chill out days are super-important to me – where I can just curl up with a book or binge a show and ignore the outside world.

What do you enjoy about raising a family in NZ?

I’ve got five kids, ages range from 10 to 22. One thing I’ve appreciated is that the kids have been able to grow up close to their extended family. They’re tight with their cousins, their grandparents are just down the road and we can visit any time. The whole family comes out in force to celebrate or gather round as needed.

There’s so much you can do and see with kids in NZ, we’re spoilt for choice. I love exploring with them and finding activities they enjoy – seeing them come alive doing something they love, or I make them try something they’re not sure of and on the way home they’re telling me that was the “best day ever!” We’re lucky that so many activities are free – the parks & playgrounds, beaches, hikes, galleries, museums, local council events.

What are you grateful for?

My kids and family, good friends, good health, steady income. A thousand things big and small.

When was a specific time of your life when you experienced gratitude?

I’ve learnt gratitude is an ongoing process. My faith is very important to me, and we’re taught that “the joy of the Lord is your strength”. In hard times though, joy can seem impossible, and God can seem far removed. A workmate, Kate, gave me a gratitude journal just after the first Covid lockdown. That gift came at a time when life seemed hopeless and dark. Using the journal every morning helped me be thankful for all that was still good in my life. Practicing gratitude helps me find joy in the everyday and the strength to keep going.

Why have you contributed to Great Full (supporting our project for Cure Kids)?

I think it’s important to give back. I’m so blessed with my kids. This is something small that I can do to help other families, other children.

Talia contributed to Great Full’s Jams project by lending her artistic design talents to Sol3 Mio's '3 Little Birds' artwork. Visit her website:
Photography by Raymond Sagapolutele