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Idealog's Most Creative: Homestyle's Juliette Wanty talks creativity

Idealog's Most Creative: Homestyle's Juliette Wanty talks creativity

Juliette Wanty was one of the People's Choice winners for the design category in Idealog and Accenture's Most Creative People. As Homestyle designer and stylist, Wanty is producing super slick editorial layouts, gaining a reputation for her direction of stylish studio shoots and, like the best magazine designers, showing a great balance of creativity and discipline. Here, she talks following your instincts, finding inspiration and integrity. 

What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity is challenging the status quo – even through a small act such as creating something new, or approaching something differently. It's also an enjoyable and challenging process to go through in my work, and something I appreciate about the world -– feeling enchanted by what others have created is one of life's joys. 

What do you think it is about your nature/habits/interests that makes you creative?

I'm an intuitive person so my thoughts and ideas aren't always crystal clear from the beginning, but when I follow my instincts things tend to click into place. I've always been a lover of the arts, and am an avid consumer of media. I am interested in everything from architecture to dance to fine art, comedy, writing, fashion, podcasts... so many things. 

What first drew you to your chosen field?

I always knew I wanted to do something creative as a career, and studied Industrial Design at Victoria University of Wellington. When I graduated an opportunity arose to design the weekly student magazine, Salient. It was a brilliant crash course in magazine design and production, and a lot of fun. This led to further publishing roles where I discovered styling and art direction – which was so exciting – combining my interest in 3D design/spatial/furniture with visual storytelling.

What was your upbringing like, and how do you think that led you to where you are today?

My parents insist they aren't creative, but it's evident in their hobbies – Dad is a talented woodturner and shed-tinkerer, and Mum is a keen quilter. I grew up in a home where creating things was just a part of life. At school I always enjoyed the creative classes like graphics, manual/technology, art. As a teenager I started designing clothes and entering fashion design competitions, I just loved creating, and needed excuses to challenge myself. 

Where do your best ideas come from?

It all starts with a brief (editorial or commercial) and constraints can help as a starting point. I usually have a lot of ideas swilling around waiting to be tapped into. Collaborating and bouncing ideas around with my colleagues at homestyle is also a great process. With styling, sometimes a single item like a chair or piece of art will spark an idea for a whole interior shoot.

What does inspiration look like for you?

It's constant and varied. I get inspiration from Instagram – following many amazing furniture designers and local makers, interior designers etc.  Also I love to devour international magazines, especially interiors titles. Travel is also a great way of filling up the tank – I seek out inspiring places and activities whenever planning an itinerary! 

Is there an ethos/motto you abide by in your work?

To work with integrity and to make the most of each opportunity with every shoot, set build, page of the magazine. It's a privilege to get to do the work I do, and to work alongside other talented and creative people – I try not to take it for granted.

Creativity is challenging the status quo – even through a small act such as creating something new, or approaching something differently.

If there were a secret to success, what would it be?
A tenacious work ethic, an outlook of possibility, and adaptability.

What were some of the challenges that you faced early on? What went wrong? Any regrets? 

In early days it’s easy to feel creatively limited, or restricted to existing templates or methods – but it’s all part of the learning process. Being highly organised is also an area that I manage much more effectively than when I first started out – all-nighters are not conducive to good results.

Do you work a lot? Do you have an obsessive part to your personality?

I work hard but I'm good at relaxing too! I'm definitely obsessed – design and interiors are a life passion so when I go home I may not be working, but I'm often reading, watching, and absorbing things that relate to what I do.

What’s the secret to resilience? 

In my line of work, having a goal you're working towards such as a shoot or print deadline is key. Deadlines are such an important and necessary tool in order to achieve creative goals.

What have been some of the highlights of your career?

Being offered the role of art director at homestyle magazine. I love my job, and am fortunate to work alongside a talented and supportive team as well as a great pool of contributors. Through homestyle I've worked a on creating a lot more integrated content for advertisers – something we specialise in. There's a real satisfaction to producing content that works for both clients and readers, which is essential as media changes. 

What do you think New Zealand is like for creativity? Is there something about ‘Kiwiness’ that helps or hinders?

We have a strong community of talented creatives in New Zealand, with a lot of integrity. I think recently there's been a real spirit of collaboration between everyone from individual makers to large companies which we're seeing more and more of. It's exciting to see people proudly supporting one another. 

What have been the biggest lessons you’ve learned?

To work hard, persist, and believe in yourself and the work you do. 

Where to next? Do you have a goal you’re working towards?

At homestyle magazine we are a small team but highly specialised in our niche, and create a lot of bespoke home and interiors integrated content for clients. I'm excited to see what brands we'll be working with in 2018, it's always great working with like-minded design-focused companies.

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