Stories from the archive...
Envisage is a commercial vehicle for my creative abilities. Learn more about my innovative past, successful present and exciting future.
Simon concentrated on academic subjects at high school in Auckland, focusing on maths, English and science. It wasn't until after his graduation in 1987 that he decided to study graphic design at a tertiary level. His thinking back then was, 'I want an office job, but I also want to build things with my hands'.
Having no real portfolio, it was a small miracle that he was accepted into the new Applied Art and Design course at Taranaki Polytechnic. Simon quickly realised that creativity came naturally. His course tutors, talented professionals from the USA, inspired him with an open-boundary approach to design solutions. In his final year (1989), Simon took a research trip to LA then New York and produced an acclaimed documentary video about his growing illustration and design portfolio.
In 1990 The Auckland University of Technology (AUT) accepted Simon into the final diploma year of the immensely popular Art and Design Department. This was the first time that a design student had ever successfully cross-credited into the course, a testament to his creative talent. In his final year at AUT he conducted research into computer animation, interactive multimedia (pre-internet), story boarding and off-line video production. While still a student, he freelanced for TVNZ and UniTech and consulted for the AV department within AUT. He was the first student at AUT to graduate with distinctions in all assessments, and was presented with a special award by advertising legend Marco Marinkovich. Simon was ready for 'business time'.
Throughout 1991, New Zealand was still suffering from an economic hangover due to the 1987 share market crash. Unemployment was relatively high; the job market tight; and the new era of digital design had just begun. Simon was quickly employed by the National Business Review as an editorial artist, primarily to harness the power of the newly released Macintosh computer. It was within this highly corporate and deadline-driven environment that he learnt the most important lessons of his professional design career.
His intuitive approach to designing on a Mac soon caught the eye of a completely new type of media business. North Shore Auckland based Microdot Media Imaging (now PMP) was the first digital prepress studio in New Zealand to offer design, scanning, film output and offset printing all under one roof. Having the very latest in graphics technology at his fingertips, Simon was in his element. From 1992-93 he produced dozens of eye-popping designs within timeframes that new clients had never thought possible.
In early 1994 at the age of 23, Simon formed his own design company. This decision was made after exhaustive research, commitment from two key clients and fashionable office space on offer in Ponsonby. He named his company Envisage Design, drawing on the fact that true creativity requires commercial vision. Things moved pretty fast in those early days of freelance digital design.
Creative demand was hot, and new clients were quite literally queuing at his door. Almost immediately his client list included the Cook Islands Tourism Authority, Auckland City Council, Anchor (now Fontera), Personal Investor, Swerve and Real Groove Magazine.
By 1997 with his flourishing business now established, Simon purchased his own office space. He moved into a New York style suite of offices located in the historic Lister Building on the corner of Lorne and Victoria Street, central Auckland. The prestigious address added credibility to Envisage Design, and his list of corporate cliental continued to steadily grow. It is important to note that Simon was (and still is) a one-man-band.
New Zealand experienced a mini recession around early 1998 that quickly recovered as a consequence of the dot com boom. This ill-conceived economic upswing did not last, and by 2002 the New Zealand economy was floundering yet again. This time, the situation was reversed by a hyperactive property (and consequent) investment market. By skill or default, Envisage was a creative studio at the centre of extraordinary economic circumstances.
The next eight years saw Simon's marketing, publishing and emerging web technology skills continue to be in extremely high demand. Businesses within financial and corporate advisory sectors approached him on a regular basis, to take advantage of his creative talent. To keep up with demand, Envisage continued to research and invest in new technologies. This, added with a disciplined workflow technique, helped streamline production and by 2007 Envisage had an enviable portfolio of completed works. Not bad going for a solo freelance designer.
In 2008, sharp economic intuition determined a dramatic lifestyle change for Simon and his family, Having designed for so many years in the financial industry, Envisage recognised that some sort of adjustment was about to happen. Thanks to overseas investment, the NZ recessions of 1998 and 2002 were too shallow, and the economy was living (quite literally) on borrowed time.
Simon fulfilled a dream to leave Auckland and live in the 'lifestyle city' of Nelson. Sure enough, many financial institutions ran dry and by 2009 the world was gripped by a massive financial crisis.
Simon counts himself lucky to be a successful freelance designer in the creative capital of Nelson, New Zealand. Unlike larger design shops, he is able to keep his big city clients happy by quickly adjusting to their individual needs through cost monitoring and clever design technique. Creativity comes naturally to him, plus he is incredibly fast on the Mac; as a result he now has quality time for family, the community and himself.
He has recently launched into web site design. Starting in 1995, Simon researched emerging internet technologies, watching and waiting for the perfect environment in which to enter into the field of web design. Over the years he's turned away dozens of web design projects, believing that web technologies had not yet stabilised or reached a certain level of maturity. Recent breakthrough innovations, has enabled Simon to perfect a truly amazing web design technique. It is extremely important for freelancers to be passionate about what they do, and Simon has found his new muse; website design.
After two successful decades, Envisage is now looking inward and taking simple pleasures in crafting design solutions for his select cliental. Simon is proud to be a full-time freelancer with a long and successful track record. Vist 'Southern Lights' the family blog documenting the transition to Nelson in 2008.
Married with 2 boys, he currently lives at Tintagel House in Nelson, New Zealand.