Flox Maca Bernal and Nga Hua Toi Tanker

Design Assembly Friends Interview

Meet our friends . . . Tanker Creative

‘Meet our Friends’ series is where Design Assembly takes a moment to celebrate and share a little about the diverse studios who make up our DA Friends.

We spoke to our friends from Tanker Creative to learn more about their studio team, culture, and mission to support ambitious creative professionals and organisations.

by  from an article published by

Kia ora Nicola! Where are you based and what shape does the Tanker team take?

Malō DA! We’re Tanker shaped, ha! We’re primarily based in Tāmaki Makaurau, with a presence in Ōtautahi and Whanganui.

Can share what a typical day at Tanker looks like and gives us tour of the studio?

Always plenty going on with brand, web and social projects and management. We catch up as a team first thing in the morning and then get down to the business of design!

Generally we start with a work in progress so that we’re all connected and know what is going on – which can be anything from brand, web, or social or, or a mix of those. Projects really vary, some days we’re working on vehicle graphics, some days we’re doing wire frame or component design, or creating the social media content for a client. So it’s a wide range!

These installation pieces were designed for the Tanker Creative studio, a shared space in Newton. CNC cut acoustic panels created in collaboration with Malcolm Taylor Architects. The panels are inspired by breeze blocks and compliment the industrial interior of the studio. Made from 100% polyester fibre, recycled from plastic bottles they are anti-bacteria and add soundproofing to the space as well as acting as light guards and helping regulate the temperature. The panels add a stylish graphic point of interest to the office and are eye-catching from outside the building.

Tanker Creative Studio 2022

How do you scope your roles, collaborate and cross-pollinate within the studio?

A lot of our work is online and we’re all set up to do remote working. We do both video meetings and in person meetings along with using an online project management software so everyone kind of understands what the tasks are for the day, where projects are at, and that kind of thing.

We’ve got a great studio manager who’s deeply organised and keeps on top of the project management side of things to make sure everything is ticking along.

As part of our daily Work in Progress meetings we go over what has gone well, not so well, what’s coming up and anything we’re stuck on. We also have full studio briefs and debriefs on jobs to improve outcomes. As opportunities arise and with technological changes team members give presentations on them so we all understand wassap.

Since covid there’s been a shift in the way many of us work. Can you tell us about the workplace culture at Tanker and how/if you’ve adapted your working style in the post-covid world and what tools/techniques you’ve adapted to stay connected as a team?

Because we’ve had an office in Otautahi we were already set up with cloud-based systems, and remote working. We did find getting cocktails or lunches delivered, with team members taking us for google earth trips to their favourite places during online zoom sessions kept the suburb lockdown neurosis at bay… slightly. During our ‘lunch time tours’ we jumped on Google street view and visited the Greek islands, London, Dubai, Montreal. It was a really cool way to bring the team together and see each other’s experiences.

GREAT to be back in an office, we still have working from home options, and a monthly dinner to bring everyone together for social time.

Along with the branding and design work your team does, Tanker is also involved in educating and mentoring within the arts and creative industries. Can you share with us a little about that?

One of the missions of Tanker is to support ambitious creative professionals and organisations in developing sustainably holistic creative practices. Originally we were involved in supporting this through the Ministry of Awesome in Christchurch.

Out of this came the opportunity to work with the team at Depot Artspace in Devonport on their educational programmes ArtsLab, and the Creative New Zealand initiative Wayfind. Their focus is working with creatives that have already have a practice but who want to create a business structure that’s more sustainable. That might involve creating a manifesto, vision and mission statements, as well as teaching the importance of developing a SWOT analysis, project management funding, financial literacy—those kind of things.

As part of Wayfind we spend time teaching the theory of brand, web and social media development—and how to articulate target markets and personas. This is sothey can DIY themselves if needed, but also so they’ll be great clients providing awesome briefs and understand the design process if they contract out to a designer or agency.

It’s really been a privilege to work with all these amazing creatives and see their practices progress.

Tanker Creative Nicola Devine Mentoring

How often are the mentoring programs run for?

There’s cohorts that go through every six weeks or so and that can then lead into ongoing mentoring.

As a mentor, you get to see what your students are doing. At the moment, the Depot has a gallery space with a member’s exhibition on, which is the first time that many of the students have been able to access gallery space to exhibit their work.

What recent achievements or projects is the Tanker team most proud of?

We really love everything that we do. A lot of our projects are ongoing relationships with clients, so we work with them and some of them are developing their brand. One of those clients is Maca Bernal, who’s a fine artist with a master’s degree from Dunedin and makes interactive art jewellery. We’ve worked with her from developing the business, creating the brand, website, social campaigns, and at the moment we’ve just finished creating the graphics for her mini.

Another client we work with is Mīria George, who runs Tawata Productions, which is an indigenous production company for performance art. She also runs the Kia Mau Festival and has been involved in Ngā Hua Toi which is an initiative to support the performing arts, so we’ve done three websites for these projects and she’s an individual who’s awesome to work with.

Also the Wayfind project and the ongoing process of educating people which delivers on one of the daily missions of Tanker—which is to help creative practitioners and organisations develop sustainable practices. So that’s really at the core of what we do on a daily basis and is hugely rewarding.

Maca Bernal Mini Graphics

Where to next for Tanker, what is your team working towards for 2022/23?

We’ve been so lucky, we get people coming and wanting to work with us now because of our niche.

So we’re working on some more projects for creative professionals along with continuing to up our game in terms of brand, web, and social, along with mentoring for creatives. Developing the internal culture of Tanker, empowering the team is also hugely important.

So heaps going on #NotBored #ContinuingtoBurnRubber

Ready to work together?

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