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Tim Chapman, Creative Director

Digital, Visual Arts

Neighbourhood Series: An Interview with the Creative Director at Publica

From Red Bull and Red Cross to Unilever and the US Army, Tim Chapman has spearheaded award-winning design and creative campaigns for an expansive and impressive list of clients. 

During a recent interview, he told us about his experience working in the creative industry, some of his favourite projects and go to local spots. 

With both parents heavily involved in the local Ōtautahi theatre, Tim grew curious about the creative industry at a young age. 

“I was surrounded by creativity growing up,” he explained. “Mum worked for the Canterbury Children’s Theatre and dad starred in all of the shows for Showbiz Christchurch. They both encouraged creativity, which definitely influenced my career path. That and just hearing about their passions and unique experiences within the industry.”

While theatre wasn’t his cup of tea, Tim demonstrated a precocious aptitude for art. 

“I loved art class throughout school. I took design in my final year, which is probably the time I really started thinking I wanted to pursue a career in the creative industry. I remember we were tasked with creating our first portfolio. Mine was heavily inspired by the work of Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and artists like David Carson and Franz Marc.”

Following school, Tim went on to study Visual Communication Design at Ara Institute in the late 1990s. While most of his work today involves digital design, websites were still in the early days when he graduated so his career started with more traditional print.

“I worked as the Graphic Designer for the Hazard Press, designing book covers and layouts, and did some freelance work for an agency based here in Christchurch. After I had a few years of experience under my belt, I headed to Australia and worked as the Design and Print Manager for the Red Cross. I spent five years there and two as a Designer for Princeton Publishing — a media production company based in Sydney.”

Tim got a taste of what it’s like working for clients during his time at Princeton Publishing and has spent most of his career in the agency world since, helping all sorts of brands transform their business vision into creative realities. 

“Following my time in Aussie, I got a role at a creative agency, travelling between Christchurch and Chicago. I worked on all sorts of projects for clients like Crocs, Hennessy Cognac and the Chicago Wolves. Campaign and traditional print design were still big parts of my role, but websites were a standard of the design landscape by then so my work in digital had definitely started to ramp up.”

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Fast forward to today and most of Tim’s work involves bringing brands to life and designing beautiful, user-friendly websites and apps as Creative Director at Publica. 

“I’m responsible for developing and directing the creative vision for different brands and mentoring the other designers on the team,” he told us. “I conceptualise creative ideas with clients and manage the creative process from concept to competition while working cross functionally with marketers, project and account managers as well as our app and web developers.”

“I’ve always enjoyed the problem solving aspect of design and I think working within the digital space really amplifies that. Websites and apps are a make or break interaction for our client’s audiences. Sure, aesthetics matter, but what’s critical is that the design resonates with who our clients are trying to engage with. That and making sure what we design is something that can be transformed into a functional piece of code and work well across both mobile and desktop.”

Working with a wide range of clients over the years, Tim told us that his most memorable projects recently have been designing the Lake Wānaka Tourism website, which was recently awarded Bronze at the 2022 Best Awards, and bringing an important fundraising campaign and the moreprecious.co.nz platform to life with the Cancer Society Canterbury West Coast charity.

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“I mentioned it earlier, but the digital landscape is always changing and no two clients are ever the same, which is what I love about working in an agency. Everyday and every project is so different which keeps things new and exciting.”

Neighbourhood Picks

With two young children to tend to, Tim professed that most of his outings these days are catered to their needs. Beyond Margaret Mahy playground, Hagley Park and Taiora QEII rec centre, below are a few of his favourite spots to visit in the city.

Favourite art gallery
I quite like the Christchurch public art gallery. It has a great collection of local art and is filled with interesting and contemporary exhibits.
Local theatre
I’m a big fan of the local theatres in Christchurch like Isaac Theatre Royal and Lumiēre Cinemas. I used to watch every new movie that came out.
Go to with the kids
Tūranga is another great spot for the kids. There’s an indoor slide, lego station and storytelling sessions so they love going there.
Love local in Ōtautahi.

This series is brought to you by our Creative and Digital Partner, Publica.

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