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Red Peak makes the cut

Red Peak makes the cut

Well that came out of the blue.  And black, red and white.

I never believed Red Peak stood a show.  But it was heartening to be part of a movement many Kiwis got behind, showing passion and creativity and patriotism.  It has been a simple celebration of our identity, of our country, owned by us, and not the big wigs.  And a win for good design, refreshing to see.  All too often as a designer, a client wants more ‘wow’ – and ‘more’ is always .. less.

To be honest we can be a pretty laid back bunch, lumping bad decisions by our politicians.  If anything it’s heartening that speaking out, and signing a seemingly pointless petition can actually make a difference.  Maybe in the future we will be more proactive in what goes on in our country.

Does Red Peak stand a chance?  Obviously a much better chance than the ‘chosen four’.  I’m sure many of us will think hard before ticking that box.  But we have a real choice now.  The weetbix packet designs have a real flag to contend with.

I’m sure the Red Peak will fly around the country and stadiums regardless of the result.  And after seeing the many designs and images related to the design, even in the new All Black haka, I think we’ve established the triangle as a strong symbol in our collective identity.

Well done everyone who lent their voice to a very DIY kiwi moment.

Red Peak makes the cut

Red Peak – A nation all grown up

It’s just a bunch of triangles.

If you turn it upside down and squint it looks like (insert icon/logo/motif/sports shirt of your choice).

It’s too Maori / Pakeha.

It shouldn’t need to be explained.  It needs a picture.


Like the four selected flag submissions, and any other piece of design, the Red Peak flag has it’s critics.  The above statements may not make for the best arguments, but people may simply not feel a connection to it, and I understand that completely.

I’ve followed the flag debate with a mild interest, with the plan of voting for the status quo, it all being a huge waste of our collective cash.  The ‘chosen 4’ only cemented my thoughts on that, looking cluttered and unpolished visually, and from a design point of view being a nightmare to reproduce and scale.  No reflection on the designers and I congratulate them on their success, these being essentially first concepts (concerning considering they may also be finals).

Any new flag would need to be one of the world’s best to sway me, something that says we as a nation have grown up and are proud to be front and centre on the world stage.



When I first viewed the ‘Red Peak’ design in passing I was mildly impressed.  This based on an opinion the whole thing was a farce, and that the chosen designs had destroyed the whole process anyway.  But in the design I immediately saw a section of the Union Jack – arranged into a Maori tukutuku design.  Ok, clever.   Then the other elements began to soak through.

The white stripe of a long white cloud.  A snow covered range, volcanic.  Night and day, the first to see the dawn.

An upward arrow of a thriving nation, of winners, of progressive thinking.  Bold, bright, powerful.

After reading a few comments from some struggling with the simple triangles, I created the above Red Peak gif animation to express some of the elements I myself saw.  But there is of course more to this design than a mountain range and wharenui.



flag-sizeAs a designer, I began to see how this flag would play out in designs, small icons, banners.   Ok, very well.  Simple to create, strong colours, easily reduced.  The triangle is literally a shape of strength, unbreakable. The centered design forces your eye in and up.  Alongside other flags of the world which most often travel sideways, it draws your eye.

The designs of the selected fern and star flags are impossible to draw from scratch and reduce to a muddy blur.  The black koru is, well unfortunately, a black whirlpool of death.








I love the Silver Fern black flag.  That will always be a part of NZ culture.  It is not on our flag, yet still firmly embedded as an icon of our nation.   There are very few that would vote for a black national flag but as a design, beautiful.  My fear is that by including another variation of this in our national flag, we would dilute the stark silver on black flag itself.

So how would these flags sit next to this wonderful icon of ours in a crowd.  For me, a different style of fern on another flag looks like a misprint and would hurt the fern as a single entity.  While the Red Peak compliments and enhances it’s complex design.





Flags are not expected to be literal.  Their beauty and power is in the subtle meaning of that simple colour, or that shape.  The Red Peak is clearer in it’s meaning than most of the world’s most recognised flags.   The Union Jack, the Stars and Stripes, the many three striped variations.  Without explanation most flags are a mystery, yet their simplicity makes them distinctive.  The ones that do contain a literal image are often difficult to make out from a distance and become indecipherable and clumsy.

Why do most of us find the current flag (myself included) perfectly suitable to the task?  Familiarity – and of course history.  The Red Peak is a better more distinctive design, but it is new to us and jarring.  But it does speak to many straight off the bat, a promising sign.

Am I a staunch supporter of the Red Peak flag?   As a designer, yes.  As a patriotic kiwi?  Of course I would have a hard time ticking my lifetime friend away, but the Red Peak does strike me both in meaning, visual impact, and technical use as a flag of substance.  It is simple, clean and bold.

Of course the Peak is not on the table and I will happily unfurl my traditional NZ flag once all this has been buried.  But if I was to choose a design to tell the world we are strong, mature and to be respected, then yes the come of age, powerful Red Peak.  Sadly, the 4 chosen designs seem a step back into 2nd tier obscurity.

Capping a busy 2014

Capping a busy 2014

Well here we suddenly are, 2015.  And February already.

But the Origins Kickstarter project has come back to top a memorable 2014, being voted best deck of the year and a list of other awards at United Cardists, and tying for best deck at the Playing Card Forum.  I’m surprised and very thankful for all the support.  These could easily have gone to any number of amazing decks through the year and I’m just honoured to be dropped amongst such talented artists.

I’ve learned a lot about the industry and made many new acquaintances and friends.  I’d planned to decide on another project based on the response to the Origins decks, and now after a reboot and some time just enjoying being a Dad, I’m looking forward to getting back into the design.  A year can fly by, time to get moving.

Thank you again to all who got behind the project and took the time to get in touch.  You made a good year great.  On to new things.  Here’s to 2015, have an amazing one.



It’s late. I’m sitting on the floor watching the end of a movie. I hear rustling and my little 4 year old Flynn appears. His eyes are puffy, ‘Dad can I have a drink.’ I give him a little plastic glass, he drinks the lot. I give him a hug and send him to bed, watch him shuffling away half asleep. Little boy.

A minute later he re-appears, his bottom lip quivering. ‘Luca hit me’. He’s dazed and confused.. I pick him up, carry him back to bed where his brother Luca is fast asleep. I tell him Luca didn’t hit him and tuck him in, but he insists, starts to cry. Over tired. I tell him I’ll cuddle with him a bit.

So I hop in beside him, his little chest breathing hard with tears. Tucks his face into me.

I whisper ‘I love you little boy. I love you more than all the toys in the world’.  His tears stop. ‘I love you more than all the lollies ever, more than everything in the whole wide world.  I want you to be happy and do all the amazing things you ever want to do.’

He’s quiet in the dark for a moment.  Then he says ‘I love you Dad’ and  gives me a tight long hug, takes a deep  breath, and is asleep.

Anne Boleyn – An historic icon reimagined

Anne Boleyn – An historic icon reimagined

This portrait is inspired by the iconic queen, Anne Boleyn.  After a lot of research, reading about the woman and studying the existing historic portraits, I began a piece which averaged the facial characteristics of these pieces and incorporated details in historic descriptions of Anne.  Unfortunately, all of the existing pieces apart from a distorted coin were painted posthumously so cannot be considered acurate, but there are similarities in the artworks.

Boleyn was second wife to King Henry VIII, and was executed for adultery – a month after Henry began seeing another woman, and on little evidence.  Descriptions of Anne paint her as not traditionally beautiful, but in her own way charismatic and graceful, with a long neck, long dark hair and beautiful dark eyes and lips.  Less flattering remarks suggest she had moles, a cyst on her neck, a protruding top tooth and the bump of an extra finger that she kept well hidden.  But it’s inferred she was the centre of attention, charismatic, and it’s hard not to imagine she was a woman unafraid to speak her mind – which may have lead to her demise.

I wanted to create a new portrait and modernise / humanise Anne.  The final is heavily stylised and graphic, yet I’ve worked to stay faithful to the dimensions and facial characteristics of the woman.

This piece is part of a larger project, the base being art for a premium quality card set titled Origins.


This print is now available at