The arts are an essential part of any society and culture, but what isn’t widely known is the enormous size of the creative industries and the employment options in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Being a designer in Aotearoa has traditionally been lumped in with the vision of the struggling artist; creating amazing work with a trendy lifestyle, but being poor and needing a ‘real job’ to pay the bills.
But today, design is the real job. The creative industries represent one of the biggest employment sectors in the country. In 2017 there were over 120,000 designers in New Zealand and job opportunities are growing at over 10% per year. This means 12,000 new designers are needed every year to keep up with demand. And from an income perspective, the sector generates more money than all of agriculture combined. (PWC report 2017, The Value of Design to New Zealand) https://designschool.ac.nz/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/the-value-of-design_design-co-report-2017.pdf
The design industry in New Zealand has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Design disciplines that had worked closely with manufacturing, such as fashion, have shifted from design and make to design only with manufacturing offshore. Now the shift is towards boutique design & make, with limited runs of high-quality clothing to answer the movement against ‘fast fashion’.
Graphic Design has also shifted from brochure after paper brochure, to digital and app design with sophisticated user interface design. The digital media tools today have incredible power to create almost anything the designer (or client) can think of.
And it is the thinking of new ideas that are now the key component of any successful design. The ability to think of something unique, something that no-one has seen before is what drives innovation and great design. And artificial Intelligence won’t replace this.
But one of the biggest challenges for the design and creative industry is visibility. Designed stuff is easy to see everywhere around us. This website includes work from writers and editors, photographers, graphic designers and digital media technicians, before it can even be delivered to you the reader. But the creative process to generate the ideas is often personal and hidden away in the minds of the creatives and their sketch books. Over 70% of designers are self-employed and this is why the creative industries have not had the exposure of the increasing skill shortage. The industry has been hidden in small offices and back rooms without big buildings and signs promoting it’s importance.