Creative gold: how Auckland designer Marigold Janezic found inspiration in collaboration

Marigold Janezic of Gold Creative is a South Islander born and raised, but has also lived in Western Samoa, Brazil and Ireland. After travelling and exploring, she returned home to Aotearoa to settle in Auckland near the beautiful Waitakere ranges. The beauty of the New Zealand bush and bird life are an ongoing inspiration for her – and she challenges herself to try and put her stamp on this popular design theme. For Marigold, the creative way to meet this challenge has been collaboration, and she has found a fruitful creative partnership with Ronja Schipper of Re:purpose. Together they produce the beautiful Birds of a Feather card range.


 

 
What do you make?
I design New Zealand flora and fauna inspired greeting cards and digital art prints. I am one half of design collaboration Birds of a Feather – which has taken wings to the point that you will now find a selection of our designs in stores all over New Zealand.

How did you get into your craft?
I’m a professional graphic designer and I love my job, but I always wanted to start a side project which could allow me to design for pure fun. My initial idea was to create greeting cards as client thank you gifts – serving the dual purpose of giving me a chance to showcase a different aesthetic while giving them a token of appreciation.

First, I tried initiating this project on my own, but I lost momentum all too easily, so I asked fellow designer Ronja Schipper (of Jacinda’s feather earrings fame – Ed.) to join me and our collaboration Birds of a Feather was born. Designing and running the project as a team is inspiring and motivating – together we keep it fresh and fun. The intention of the designs is to showcase New Zealand flora and fauna, with a focus on our native birds. Our approach is simple: choose a limited colour palette, select our birds, set a deadline. We get quite excited about the palette – aiming to select one which gives us a fresh or unique take on our birds and plants. The collaboration works well – being accountable to each other makes us work hard and keep to the timeline. The designs are often tweaked and modified a little after the first reveal – to help the range cohesion and often at this stage we influence each other stylistically.

When the cards are fresh off the press, they are collected from our local printer and we start collating them all by hand. It’s so rewarding seeing the finished packs take shape!


 

 

 
After the success of our Birds of a Feather card range, I felt inspired to take my birds into a new context. Many of my clients and friends commented that they loved them so much they didn’t want to give them away or that they had put them on their wall… so I thought some art prints might be well received.

With my art prints, I take elements from my card designs and I open up the colour palette, but I don’t aim necessarily to make the colours true to life – I want the overall feel of the finished piece to be playful & cheerful. I have such fun designing them… I have lots of new material to work with and there’s a new range under development right now – soon to be released.

“I am attracted to pattern and the play of positive and negative space, so all of this is in my mind when I am creating.”

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Yes, I studied a Bachelor of Graphic Design at AUT and loved every minute of it. It was a long time ago now (time flies!), but I remember those student days with great fondness – we all had such passion and energy. I recall the feeling of starting my first job and feeling amazed that I could get paid to do something which I loved so much.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I have always loved drawing by hand and I do try to do that as much as possible, but now most of my work is done in Adobe Illustrator, on my computer. It is an amazing programme – it really is just drawing, but in a virtual space.

My next step will be to buy a pro iPad with the incredible programme Procreate and a stylus pen. I’ve had a play on one of these and it was just amazing! I think it would speed up my process and open up new possibilities.

When I am not on my computer I also love dabbling in water colour, acrylics and oil paints. Lockdown has been such a great time to get creative.


 

   
Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces
I build up my creations layer by layer and inevitably do multiple versions of each design along the way – keeping earlier versions in case I wish to go backwards – I very rarely do though. I like to ‘explore’ around an idea and try lots of possibilities before settling on the final composition. It always starts out pretty rough in the beginning, then when the composition is decided upon, I revisit every single curve and fine tune the shapes until its perfected.

What inspires you?
My inspiration comes in many forms; sometimes a colour palette catches my eye – maybe on a wrapping paper, or a fabric pattern, or wallpaper… sometimes it’s a plant I have spotted while walking or even a magazine clipping can trigger an idea. I often have creative ideas when I run or walk alone – it gives me space to think and process some of my thoughts.

I find constant inspiration and beauty in nature. I have a luscious, fruitful garden at home and living near the Waitakere ranges gives me plenty of native bush inspiration close by. I like to go to art galleries when I find time and I follow a lot of creatives online – both locally an internationally. My three young daughters also inspire me with their artistic abilities and their unique and quirky perspective on life.

“You can’t use up creativity, the more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou.

Describe your creative process:
I start by ‘drawing in’ – gathering sources of inspiration, photos, colour palettes. I am constantly photographing leaves, flowers and birds as I see them. It is hard to take good bird photos and many aren’t seen locally, so I gather images from a variety of different sources get a good feel for a bird… sometimes my best reference has been to take photos of taxidermy at the museum – in particular for my Huia design!

Once I decide on a pose for my bird, I start to build up layers of colours, feathers and shading until the design starts to take shape. Then I create leaves and flowers from the New Zealand bush to accompany the bird or birds. Initially leaves and flowers are quite literal in their interpretation, but once I take them from their original context, and play with the scale and arrangement of shapes, they take on a life of their own and some become motifs which I will use again and again.

Once I have a few elements I bring them together and start working up a composition. I am attracted to pattern and the play of positive and negative space, so all of this is in my mind when I am creating.

Sometimes I need to take some time away from the design to help me see it clearly again. With a bit of distance, I can return and finish it with better clarity of mind.


 

  
Describe your workspace:
Ideally my desk space is pretty clear and clean (a luxury which sometimes escapes me when I get super busy!). I have worked from home since before my children were born, so there was little change for me over lockdown – apart from trying to juggle work and home school at the same time! While working I like to listen to music or Radio New Zealand is great for a bit of company.
 
I like to be surrounded by things which inspire me – art, classic New Zealand posters, my own work in progress and Crown Lynn pottery with flowers from my garden. I am lucky to have a studio space which looks out to my garden, so sometimes I even spy birds on the fence line or in our kowhai tree – a particular favourite with the tui! We have also spotted fantails, kererū and even ruru in there over time.
 
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
I was delighted recently to receive this feedback during lockdown: “Thank you so much for going above and beyond! This was such a special gift thanks to those little extras that you put in…”

It really meant a lot to me to personalise this special mother’s day gift with gift wrapping and a personalised note, knowing how isolated from loved ones many people have been lately. I was thrilled with the feedback I got – I love the close and personal contact with customers.


 

 
What are you currently listening to?
I’ve been listening to Aldous Harding lately. I absolutely love her voice, lyrics and style.

Recommend an album:
I have so many favourites – it is hard to choose! One which jumps to mind is Home, Land and Sea by Trinity Roots. This album is so beautiful, and it really sustained me when I was living overseas – listening to it always brought me home in spirit and made me feel so proud to be a New Zealander.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
When I was born my maternal grandmother gave my mother her copy of Magic for Marigold by LM Montgomery (better known for Anne of Green Gables). This was her childhood copy and is dedicated with a beautiful message from her sister Christmas 1931. Then she in turn dedicated it to me when I was born. I enjoyed the story as a youngster, particularly as it would be many years before I even met another Marigold and it fascinated me that the main character had my name.

What are you reading now?
I am reading The Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash – I’m not that far into it yet, but it’s a novel about a family called the Winters, who live in the Dakota building at the same time as John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The Dakota is famously the place where John was murdered in 1979 – though the novel is set a year before that and he’s really only in the background of the narrative. It’s a great read so far.


 

 
Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
I don’t have any one single hero or heroine – that would be hard choice, but I thank every woman who paved the way for our generation of women to have the freedoms and choices we do today. I love to read the books Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls to my daughters. Each page has a short story about a real woman who has achieved great things despite adversity – from politics and activism to academic pursuits, sporting achievements to artistic brilliance. It’s incredibly inspiring and invites a lot of discussion about complex topics like racism and gender equality… these topics can be difficult to distill into simple explanations for my little ones – but I try! 

A favourite quote:
“You can’t use up creativity, the more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou.

Tell us about your pets:
We have two cats, Ziggy and Pipi – they couldn’t be more different to each other – Ziggy is shy and cautious and Pipi is outgoing and super friendly. They are both very affectionate pets and often try to sit on my lap or walk over my keyboard while I am working to get my attention.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Stay true to your passion and confident in your ability and it will show in your work. I would recommend a good social media presence – I particularly like Instagram, though I confess am relative newbie, I love the way it’s mostly visual and it displays images in a portfolio type layout.

Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade and/or locally made goods?
It’s now more important than ever – supporting our local economy has taken on a whole new meaning since lockdown. I feel like everyone wants to support local businesses by spending money in a way that supports our fellow New Zealanders. By buying local we are helping other families to flourish in what will be a difficult financial time to come.

On an environmental level too – handcrafted gifts are, generally speaking, more ethical and sustainable. They are items to be cherished and make meaningful, long-lasting gifts.


 

 
What does it mean to you when someone buys your creations?
I get a little buzz every time someone makes a purchase – I’m just always delighted that someone else likes my work.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a pair of hand-made glittery resin earrings from a gallery – I have a weakness for shiny things! I was visiting my sister in New Plymouth and we both bought the same earrings – so I also think of her every time I wear them.

“By buying local we are helping other families to flourish in what will be a difficult financial time to come.”

What’s in store for the rest of 2020?
I am excited to have some new bird art print designs underway, which I am planning to launch very soon – so keep an eye on my shop! I am also considering large poster designs in addition to the art prints, and there will be Christmas themed cards later this year too.

Ronja and I will be starting our new Birds of a Feather card range soon also – and I always look forward to that!

Special offer for Felt readers!

Marigold is kindly giving her Felt customers 10% off any of the lovely cards, tags and prints in her Felt shop for the duration of her feature fortnight. Just purchase before 5pm Monday 22 June, and enter the code NZBIRDS10 in the voucher code field at step 4 of checkout. Thank you so much Marigold!

12 thoughts on “Creative gold: how Auckland designer Marigold Janezic found inspiration in collaboration

  1. What a beautiful talent you have! I particularly love your piwakawaka print and your cards have such a personal touch. It is really special to see a New Zealand artist that speaks Aotearoa’s unique beauty without a spot of kiwiana kitsch or cultural appropriation. There is so much love in your work Marigold x

  2. I really enjoyed reading your blog and wanted to say how much I love my Huia print. Best birthday present (to myself) ever. Thank you so much. I am busy trying to chose which one to buy next.

  3. Marigold has been my client for almost 5 years now and i have always seen her work so hard on her designs… I absolutely love this blog so inspirational.. How can this not be Marigold is a creative being.. i have used her past design cards as a thank you card for my clients and they have absolutely loved it, the birds are beautiful amazing colour choice brings a feeling of home.. I’m totally ordering more for xmas this year can’t wait for all your new and inspirational creativity..

    Much Kat from Purity salon

  4. I really enjoyed reading about your process and love that you surround yourself with New Zealand posters, pottery, books and music. You have definitely risen to the challenge of showcasing our incredible flora and fauna in a very distinctive way. I look forward to what you have in store for the future. All the best.

  5. Your work is fresh and bold at the same time. I am looking forward to receiving my order so I can send some to family overseas. I know they will be well appreciated.
    I thought your comment about losing momentum working on your own was interesting. Definitely better having someone to work with to keep you motivated and focused towards an end goal.

  6. Marigold, it is so inspiring to see your beautiful work and read about your creative processes. Your creations are stunning and so unique. Congratulations on all your success!

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