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!

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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)

Read More
Antarctic Centre Adelies on ice Antarctica design on a white and a dark blue T-shirt

Cool T-shirts for Antarctica

WILDLIFE ART FOR THE ANTARCTIC CENTRE – Surface Active design pARTners’ good art achieves standout 1991 competition win

Christchurch is the gateway to Antarctica, has been for well over a century. The International Antarctic Centre was established in 1990, the visitor ‘Antarctic Attraction’ was opened to the public two years later.

Getting Antarctic people to vote on the Antarctic T-shirt designs

In 1991 the Attraction’s “Antarctic shop” merchandising and trading manager invited New Zealand’s leading souvenir T-shirt screen printers to each enter a set of Antarctica T-shirt designs into a competition, speculatively, to be judged and voted on by staff members of the various national Antarctic programmes based in Christchurch—hundreds of world-class scientists, explorers, transport support staff and the likes involved in preparing for their work in Antarctica. The brief was wide open, wildlife art designs, historical designs pertaining to Christchurch’s involvement with the 1912 epic of Captain Scott’s race to the Pole.
Keep on reading!

Orana Park Chapman’s Zebra screen prints on front and back of a navy T-shirt

Wildlife Park T-shirts for Africa

Our 1992 competition winners, a range of wildlife art t-shirts that celebrate an international wildlife conservation success story: Orana’s African savannah top five


ORANA WILDLIFE PARK, MCLEANS ISLAND, CHRISTCHURCH


The retail market of the garment trade is tough, for an open range zoo like Orana Park, with one foot in the quality recreational experience sector and the other in the tourism sector, trading is highly seasonal. The competition for the customer’s discretionary spending dollar and the fact the park is a charitable trust that generates 95% of its income from gate takings and their ‘Trading Post’, demanded that the very best way of developing the Park’s new T-shirt range be used for this custom T-shirt design and print project.
Keep on reading!

Poster Mr Fungus International Comic Mime

Fungustic slaprobatics: a poster for Mr Fungus

A poster for New Zealand‘s loudest mime

After training in London at the Desmond Jones School of Mime and earning a living on the competitive streets of Covent Garden and at various international busking festivals, at age 25 Fergus returned to New Zealand to work full time as an entertainer. He needed a logo and self-promotional publicity kit to enable him to market himself and provide to talent agencies. This poster is a photo montage produced using old school paste up and photolitho methods. Inverting the chair handstand ‘fungustic slaprobatic’ trick into a free-falling Mr Fungus was to play with the audience with a sort of Irish parachute sight gag, and making a poster that could be hung “correctly” upside down and still not make sense.
Keep on reading!

Verso of Mr Fungus business card

Mr. Fungus logo & card: make a big impression at close range

Graphics must be purposeful

Recently returned to settle back in Wellington from the U.K. in 1991, having done his time entertaining Covent Garden and international festival audiences, Fergus Aitken was a busker, a young exponent of clowning, juggling, mime and the bizarre who needed a logo and a business stationery promotional kit to advertise and promote his comic mime character Mr Fungus. More broadly he needed to promote his availability for various performing arts roles and as a mime workshop teacher in community, school and tertiary education settings. The first project, a card, would be handed over personally or included in direct mail campaigns to various audiences, where it would be viewed mainly at very close range.
Keep on reading!