Birds-eye view portrait of Surface Active t-shirt’s design pARTners, Chrissie Terpstra and Shaun Waugh, wearing Harlequin and Jewelled Gecko tees, against a white background, shot in a studio in 1996.

Surface Active: Making waves in a sea of sameness

Retrospective: Surface Active 1986–2003— t-shirts in the spirit of fun.

By Shaun Waugh, Surface Active—New Zealand wildlife art t-shirts | 29 September 2021
Shop for men, women and kids at our New Zealand-based store or our U.S./Europe-based worldwide store.

Surface Active well made in New Zealand t-shirt neck label.

Surface Active well made in New Zealand t-shirt neck label.

Back in 1986, as an illustrative graphic designer; I was a design pARTner with Chrissie Terpstra in our ‘auto printmaking’ garment screenprinting studio and clothing brand, Surface Active Artwear.

We learned over the next 17 years together aboard the good ship Free Enterprise, in what began as a shared hobby screenprinting on the kitchen table, that hand-pulled screenprinting is the medium of the hard labouring graphic artist. From the drawing board, to the darkroom, to the shirtfront with squeegee in hand, to folding great drifts of cotton, employing up to four people, manning our stalls at the weekend Christchurch Arts Centre Market, The Waiheke Island market and The Great New Zealand Craftshows from Cape Reinga to Bluff… busy, busy, busy.

Overview

Of course we were big fans of the humble t-shirt. By the mid 1980s they had become hot promotional items, garments on the outskirts of fashion, and a relatively new medium for the Graphic Designer’s art. What had for a long time been considered a poor medium for Graphic Design grew to an almost essential one.

All you have to do is walk down the street anywhere in the world since the early 80s to see what a ubiquitous promotional vehicle they have become.

Back in the day, if you mailed out 100 potential clients a direct mail brochure perhaps 200 people will see it. But mail out, or better yet, sell 100 T-shirts, and assuming they’re at all decent looking, you launch 100 walking billboards.

Keep on reading!

Tree fern, New Zealand t-shirt

Feel like a walk in the forest downunder? It’s hard to avoid the familiar sight of tree ferns, or punga, no matter where you go in New Zealand. Cool and bushy, this attractively umbrellarific all-over printed t-shirt design is repeated on the shirt back. Available in adult sizes XS–3XL on forest green or black shirts.

Shop using this link to the treefern design in our store to receive a 10% discount, use promo code: “ARTYKIWI”.

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Weta New Zealand. Insect dinosaur.

Celebrate your love for nature and wildlife with this art print featuring New Zealand’s largest native insect, the weta. Don’t say “oooh!”, say “aaah!” for this is one of the best-looking weta you’ll ever see. The recently rediscovered Bluff weta can be found in scree and on rocky bluffs at Mt Somers in North Canterbury, and all over this t-shirt.

Designed by Chrissie and I and printed in the USA and Europe. Available as an ‘all-over’ teeshirt design for adults, and a two-sided placement print design version for adults and kids.

All purchases storewide made using this link to the weta design will receive a 10% discount that is applied automatically at checkout. Promo code: ARTYKIWI.

For our New Zealand customers we have established this Digitees Surface Active store so your weta t-shirts can be printed in New Zealand, with a fast turnaround, shipping in 3–5 days + courier, and bulk order discounts are automatically applied if you order more than five items.

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Spotted shags are the best kind

Storewide 10% off, shop here, use promo code “ARTYKIWI.”

This t-shirt wildlife art print features a trio of Banks Peninsula spotted shags during breeding season, when nature gets heavy-handed with blue-green makeup and punk hair-dos. It is a multimedia design featuring a woodcut portrait of the birds and an airbrushed sky.

With their distinctive spotted feathers, bright blue-green colouring and tufted crests, these spotted shags/parekareka are thinking of romance (and fish.) What else does a shag do in it’s pre-nuptial plumage?

Shop for the double-sided version here with the big print on the back, and the single-sided version here with the big print on the front.

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My kind of shellfish

Just for you a Paua Pacific t-shirt 10% off link is here, use promo code “ARTYKIWI.”

These black and navy tees with the double-sided Paua Pacific print are perfect for the summer. For a 10% discount use the promo code “ARTYKIWI” here:

Cool, clean Pacific waters produce the bright iridescent colours of the paua shell—a watery treasure of New Zealand to keep you cool. 

This art print is a composite of a charcoal drawing and hand-separated paua shell pattern printed in 6 colours which gives the paua design a shimmering quality. Illustration based on a photo by Rod Morris.

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Awesome New Zealand nature inspired t-shirts

Surface Active storewide 10% off, storewide, here, use promo code “ARTYKIWI.”

What a way to spend lockdown! As Surface Active’s graphic designer I built this new collection of awesome New Zealand Nature Inspired T-shirts from a mix of our legacy drawings, photolitho artwork and some new hand-rendered digital illustrations.

To celebrate the launch of Chrissie and my new store we’d like to share a storewide 10% discount offer. You can shop here https://surface-active.myteespring.co/?pr=ARTYKIWI to get your Surface Active teeshirts, use promo code “ARTYKIWI.”

The jewelled gecko is available here, and the kiwi is available here.

Surface Active: making waves in a sea of sameness.

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New Zealand Artwear fresh daily—Paua Pacific

Loving these black and navy tees with the double-sided Paua Pacific print. Perfect for the summer. For a 10% discount use the promo code “ARTYKIWI” here, note, (the discount offer is good storewide.)

Cool, clean Pacific waters produce the bright iridescent colours of the paua shell—a watery treasure of New Zealand to keep you cool. 

This art print is a composite of a charcoal drawing and hand-separated paua shell pattern printed in 6 colours which gives the paua design a shimmering quality. Illustration based on a photo by Rod Morris.

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New Zealand wildlife art t-shirt store

Celebrating the Surface Active artwear store launch with a sweet launch offer—10% off storewide

To celebrate the launch of Chrissie and my new collection of Surface Active New Zealand wildlife artwear t-shirt store we’d like to share a permanent storewide 10% discount offer. You can shop here to get your Surface Active teeshirts. Use the promo code “ARTYKIWI”.

So Chrissie and I have run our New Zealand wildlife art screenprinting company and clothing brand since 1985. Our brand is Surface Active—Artwear from New Zealand. As design pARTners we create wildlife T-shirts in the spirit of fun. Our subject matter is native flora & fauna, landscapes and Kiwiana—designs that celebrate some of the unique and beautiful assets of New Zealand, our country that we love.

We have had many requests to make our most popular T-shirt designs available again. So I made it my lockdown project to complete the job of launching our brand new Surface Active Teespring store.

From whales to wetas, paua to penguins—please browse through our store to see if there’s something for you.

All the best,

Design pARTners: Shaun Waugh (boss), Chrissie Terpstra (bossier)

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A coolie steps off a wooden cargo boat gangplank. These magnificent Makassar schooners called Pinisiat at the port of Sunda Kelapa, Jakarta, Indonesia.

The right picture: Sunda Kelapa

As photographer & picture editor I demonstrate how to choose the right picture

A self assignment; visual anthropology at Sunda Kelapa, old harbour of Jakarta, Indonesia

The practice of self assignment can be one of a photographer’s most useful exercises. It is a highly personal experience in which the photographer becomes his own audience—there is no client to please, no specific requirements by which the photographs will be judged. It serves as a way to test your abilities should they ever be offered the “dream” assignment. This is an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. Some good images may be captured in the bargain. The purpose beyond any such practice should be to move beyond the ordinary, to break the photographic cliché.
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Events Management Group branding

EMG Events Management Group was a Christchurch firm established to support the performing arts and project manage the creation and development of large and small scale events such as outdoor theatre for the city council’s parks & recreation department, conferences, conventions and bespoke corporate events such as product launches and fundraisers.
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