As you would expect Shaun was born in 1961 in Te Kinga, New Zealand. He was drawn to art, design, calligraphy, printmaking, music and sports as a kid. The American Field Service programme, the underlying principles of cultural exchange and study abroad seized him as a teenager, which eventually saw him an AFS scholar graduating with honours from a high school in Dallas Texas in 1978. After a couple of years of graft as a skilled factory labourer and attending night classes to get his entry portfolio up to scratch, he went on to the Graphic Design course at Auckland Technical Institute for 3 years full time study. After graduating he was drawn to the Advertising business working in Auckland, Christchurch, Hong Kong and Reykjavik as an Art Director, typographer and studio production artist. A fantastic career grounding with people with brains enough to create great ads that sell, who don’t diminish them with poor layout, typography or pictures. Professionals from whom he learned design can look great but still not sell anything. In advertising he learned what you say is as important as how you say it.

While in advertising the message must sell or all creativity is wasted, Shaun saw that in screenprinting, the medium of the workingman’s artist, was a platform from which a designer can become successful without the need for a big budget, a corporate job, or the backing of business clientele as a freelancer. In 1986, in particular, in a co-creative effort with his wife, design pARTner Chrissie Terpstra, they set about screenprinting Teeshirts on the kitchen table in their flat, then selling them direct from a stall on summer weekends at the Christchurch Arts Centre Market.

Screenprinting had been a passion since he had been encouraged to take it up as a hobby as a teen by his dad. The response to their designs at the market affirmed that screenprinting is the people’s art, and he saw that in an era of mass production and consumption, the handmade and precious are symbols of rebellion.

At the Christchurch Arts Centre Market in the summertime Surface Active retailed their screen printed tee-shirts. Some were hand painted and stencilled to order.

‘Ocean - New Zealand’ one colour children’s T-shirt print on navy blue and jade green fabric.

Bjorn and Rowan are wearing ‘Ocean – New Zealand’ one colour print on navy blue and jade green fabric. Drawing board charcoal pencil on coquille board art, ‘puff’ printed emboss effect ink.

Returning to Christchurch after their O.E. in the spring of 1988. he and Chrissie launched their graphic design and screenprinting firm called Surface Active art-to-wear. They employed two ‘screen gems’ to share the hand-pulled screenprinting work, and also several very impressive individuals to make sales at the weekend Arts Centre Market.

Summer weekends were retailing at the Market and winters were for designing new teeshirts and touring countrywide to sell at The Great New Zealand Craft Shows.

Shaun enjoyed co-creating with design pARTner Chrissie, and drawing wildlife art in various natural media; charcoal pencil, pen and ink, cut and paste collage, woodcuts… progressively, beginning in 1990, he developed a bespoke workflow mixing drawing board manual separation illustrative methods with digital design.

‘Kiwi - New Zealand’ one colour T-shirt print on black fabric.

Chrissie models ‘Kiwi – New Zealand’ the first mixed digital and drawing board graphics print. ‘Puff’ printed emboss effect ink.

As well as time at the drawing board and the Wacom tablet using the natural media app Painter, he valued being hands-on making the prints with the squeegees, selling at the weekend Arts Centre Market to engage with customers supporting their work, developing marketing strategy with Chrissie, and managing the pre-press and print production required to translate designs separated by hand to reproduce beautifully on T-shirts.

On the marketing side for each summer season he and Chrissie designed and produced a mail order catalogue that doubled as a mailout to their retailers countrywide as well as their domestic and international database.

Shaun saw the digital design writing on the wall when he wrote his thesis “Computers and Design” in 1983, so in 1991 he leapt at the chance of learning to use a friend’s PowerMac and was thrilled to become the proud owner of his first PowerMac in 1995. It was clear to him that the only career advice his visualising tutor, Ray Downham, ever gave “the key asset of your design career is going to be adaptability” was spot on. A decade later to continue developing a career in graphic design he needed to educate himself in Photoshop, Freehand, digital pre-press and typography. He had learned how it was, then had to leave it behind. Can’t get to the moon and back on a horse.

Designing cool stuff in-house and freelance in the Surface Active design studio developed his digital design disciplines and skills.

In 1998 he became a shareholder and in-house designer for a Christchurch dotcom Digital Proofing startup company, AbsoluteProof, a part-time role he worked in until 2009. This lead him to freelance for several Christchurch technology startups involved in the local “incubator programme” also known as the technology barbecue, creating logos, advertising, promotions and packaging.

Packaging carton for MyoPace EMG Equipment for Physiotherapy

MyoPace EMG Equipment for Physiotherapy carton.

2002 saw Shaun & Chrissie wind up their teeshirt screenprinting firm and Shaun took up a position as Creative Director/Mac production artist at a start-up Christchurch Brand Management studio.

Having helped grow Tattoo from a 2 to a 6 person studio, at the end of 2004 he took up a position as inhouse designer for the Trans-Tasman Private Aviation, Air Touring and Affluent Travel firm Pionair. He enjoyed working inhouse for a diversified growing company tremendously. His role at Pionair included digital photography. This demand for professional photography reignited Shaun’s enthusiasm and his adept and cost-effective photography has become one of the services that contributes most to the distinction of MagentaDot Brands’ work today.

Composite air-to-air image of Pionair Australia’s Convair VH-PDV sporting her new fluid livery.

Composite air-to-air image of Pionair Australia’s Convair VH-PDV sporting her new fluid livery.

It was a bad day for Pionair in October 2008 when their Private Air Charter operations in Australia was hit hard by the Global Financial Collapse. All their contracts with the mining industry were scrapped in one fell swoop and the firm he joined was wound up less than 12 months later as a consequence. Out of that crisis, and with the support of Pionair and a set of loyal clients, sprang the original idea for establishing MagentaDot Brands which he has been developing since May 2009.

Shaun never brags but he has won a few awards and competitions over the years, including a bronze Axis award for typography and a brace of coveted Pride in Print Golds for design, print finishing and print production.

His career is a creative and skill driven journey sparked by human curiosity, continuous development and adaptation. Design is a classic discipline of endless potential, the air in the studio is thick with ideas, where he shows more and talks less.


At MagentaDot brands blah, blah, blah, blah, expect, blah, blah, your visual communications to work hard, blah, blah, blah.
advertising, identity, B2B, illustration, packaging, photography, websites.
Phone: +64 21 067 6176
  email: shaun@magentadotbrands.com