A chat with Meg
We chat to our creative, Meg Stuthridge, about her journey to great ideas, the watch-outs as a young designer and her experience with interchangeable skills in creative industries.
Take me through your background. What events led to you becoming a designer/creative?
My background has always been rooted in the creative space in some capacity. During my final year of high school, I spent time training at Joffrey Ballet in New York City before realising the industry wasn't for me. As I was finishing up at Joffrey, I spotted a cool poster in the studio, and my mum suggested I try my hand at design. So, I enrolled in a three-year visual communications degree at Ara, which eventually led me to land an internship at Strategy. Two years later, I'm still here and loving it!
What do you enjoy most about working at Strategy?
The variety, for sure. I really love that I get a balance between dreaming up big ideas as well as working on small brands with more design-focused work. I get to wear lots of hats - which is epic. Also, the variety of businesses we work with keeps things super interesting.
What's one word you would use to describe yourself in your role and why?
I don't know why this word comes to mind straight away, but, ‘chaotic’. I would describe myself as chaotic in my thinking & generally, as a person. I kind of love that, though, because it means that I don't restrain myself - I let my mind go wherever it needs to. Without that, I don't think I could do my job.
How do you go about finding your inspiration?
The best inspiration comes when I’m not looking for it - usually, when I’m not in the studio. I make an effort to remain curious about the world around me and think more deeply about the seemingly mundane details of my everyday life. For example, I have this album on my phone where I collect photos of random colour combos I come across… like the colour of my skirt next to a cocktail I'm drinking. Weird, but it works!
Which piece of work have you created at Strategy that most embodies you as a Designer or Creative?
I'm gonna split this question into two.
— As a Creative, I would probably say Te Anau Time. For that project, we created a breakaway timezone to attract more visitors after COVID-19. I think this project embodies me in the way that I'm persistent and determined in pushing big ideas to clients and actually making them happen.
— From the perspective of a Designer, it would probably have to be Fugitive; the first project I worked on at Strategy . It was the development of an organic wine brand that has an ethical and sustainable lens, which I’m into. I loved that the logo ended up showing a bird's-eye perspective, looking down at rows of vineyards - a simple concept that evolved directly from the strategy.
When you're not working your magic at Strategy, you're running a successful wedding photography business. How has being a wedding photographer helped you in your role?
There are so many interchangeable skills in creative industries, and that's ultimately why I started photography; to help my design. I think it's made me appreciate form and function as equally important during the creative process. It's easy to get swept up in how things look.
Really understanding your client, whether in photography or in the design world, is also key. Listening to what their pain points are and what's important to them will always lead to the best work. You can't be a storyteller without knowing their story.
What do you think is your biggest challenge as a young designer?
Something I was surprised to be confronted with as a young designer is the struggle of gaining a client's trust. Ageism, as an unconscious bias, plays way too large of a part in client conversations. I feel like no one talks about it. One factor that could also be at play here is your level of confidence as a young creative - being willing to back yourself and go all in.
What would be a dream project for you to work on?
Something like a small boutique brand for a craft beer, or even a small cafe. A project where the client gives you free rein but also something that is rooted in some really decent thinking and strategy.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young designer, what would it be?
Ah the fun comparison game. We’ve all heard it a million times, but it can be difficult comparing your ability or work to that of others, especially in a world where we have access to so much inspiration, with such little context. The designer behind your favourite project on Instagram could have 20+ years behind them, be part of a team of 10 creatives, and/or working with a $1 million budget. It’s just not comparable.
The other thing is that there’s literally no rush. There seems to be a mentality after graduating that you need a design job waiting for you. Take a gap year, work your student retail job, work in-house…in the span of a 30-year career, the first couple aren’t the be-all, end-all.
Obsessing over French - I'm currently taking classes at Alliance Française
Listening to Ludovico Einaudi
Watching The Office (US - of course)
Wishing I was at the bach in Akaroa. Post-swim, reading in the sun, with a glass of Palliser Estate Pinot Noir while Ludovico Einaudi serenades me softly in the background.