‘Paua Aotearoa’, adults and kids T-shirt, four colour print on navy and black fabric.

Surface Active: Making waves in a sea of sameness

Surface Active art-to-wear: T-shirts in the spirit of fun.

Surface Active made in Aotearoa, T-shirts main neck label.

Surface Active T-shirts main neck label.

‘Adelie Penguins, Antarctica’ adult’s and children’s two colour T-shirt print on white fabric.

‘Adelie Penguins, Antarctica’ adult’s and children’s two colour print.

As an illustrative graphic designer, writer, desktop publisher; I was a design pARTner with Chrissie Terpstra in an in-house craft garment screenprinting studio, the medium of the workingman’s artist.

By the mid 1980s T-shirts 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. If you mail 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Waitui Single Malt Manuka Honey Golden Bay Whiskey full packaging label system, front, back and top. Waitui is a small batch Whiskey, barrel aged 4 years. Hand crafted in Takaka, New Zealand.

Waitui single malt: name, logo & packaging

Waitui logoWaitui, a Small Batch, Single Malt, Manuka Honey, Golden Bay Whiskey, a unique New Zealand made prestige product, one of the few true ‘Honey whiskies’ made in the world today—in Takaka, Golden Bay.

Waitui, previously named ‘Bush Whiskey’ required renaming, rebranding and packaging to a standard that properly reflects the product. The result of the rebrand and repackaging has been outstanding at achieving the client’s goals; greatly increasing sales volume, profitability, and enabling the product to be distributed to prestige Whisky specialist retailers such as Whiskey Galore in Christchurch.
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