18 February 2016

Creative Talk – Andy Bennett Q&A



We asked the very talented Andy Bennett, the lucky winner of our ‘Win a Trip to New York and Intern for a Week at Pentagram’ competition (which we ran in conjunction with Semi-Permanent) – to talk us through his top times in New York.  Andy was quick smart getting on a plane shortly after winning, and spent a week in December with Pentagram.


Pentagram – New York. Assuming you knew who they were when entering the competition?


8Of course! Michael Bierut and Paula Scher, two of the eight partners at Pentagram NY, are my Graphic Design heroes. I went along to Michael’s talk at Semi-Permanent and loved every second of it. When he mentioned at the end of his talk that you could win an internship I was like, “f*ck yeah!”.


You would have been stoked winning – especially with Pentagram picking the winner – did you have a lucky feeling?


I actually did have a lucky feeling, since I was determined to have a good crack at it! We had a long time to enter, so I thought about it for ages, came up with the idea and then pulled the entry together just before the due date. Luck was definitely on my side.


Your entry was creative – a presentation that really showcased your personality, as opposed to presenting a finished design piece – do you think this gave you the edge?


What I think gave me the edge was the idea. A good idea is everything and I was fortunate enough to have an ‘N’ and a ‘Y’ in my name, ANDYB. This formed the basis of the presentation - I tried to show as much of my personality as possible. At this point I would like to take a moment to thank my mum and dad for naming me so I could win this competition.


I imagine there were many highlights to your trip – what were the top 3?


Number one, being inside the walls of Pentagram NY. The building is an old bank that has two massive old vaults in the basement. There are loads of work and photos up on the walls and every day you are walking past the likes of Paula Sher, Michael Bierut, and Abbot Miller. Just walking through the front doors you can’t help but feel like you just got a bit more creative.


Number two, having a half hour chat with Michael. I was really curious to know how he worked with his associates, how much involvement he had in all the projects and how much free reign he gave them to come up with their own ideas. We also talked briefly about his time working for the late Massimo Vignelli, which was very inspiring also. He’s a very easy guy to talk to.


Third was New York. Coolest city in the world. Anyone got a job for me there?


Is Pentagram what you thought it would be?


I couldn’t imagine Pentagram when I’d tried to imagine it, since I’d only seen a couple of photos that didn’t give away much. But when I walked into Pentagram I felt like I was on a movie set, it was very surreal. Everyone has an American accent (obviously), there are all these famous designers walking around and there is this constant buzz of big things happening. You could say I was little overwhelmed by the occasion when I walked in but as soon as I got in front of a computer screen I felt right at home.


I hear they gave you some intern work to do.


Hahaha, it was an internship competition so I was ready for anything, I just hoped they would give me some creative stuff to do. So, yes, I did have to do a bit of intern work like image clear-cutting, research and text layouts but I also got to work on a couple of very cool projects and sit in on some meetings where I got to see Michael on form for clients… he’s SO good.


You work with Designworks here in Auckland, can you compare apples?


They are completely different business models but we definitely have one thing in common, we’re constantly pushing for the best ideas crafted to the highest standard possible.


Do you feel the experience has / will enrich your design methodology and style?


Definitely. I had the fortunate experience of being taken through a few of their presentations. This gave me valuable insight into their process, and how they pull together their work into a compelling story to sell their ideas. This will most definitely stick with me and I’m sure will filter through into my own presentations.


Top story to tell from the trip.


I was lucky enough to sit in on a couple of meetings with Michael and his team. One of the meetings was a conference call where Michael and one of his associates took the client through a couple of concepts for their brand. Halfway through Michael breaks into an impromptu speech that builds up to him telling the client that their brand is ultimately helping the whole world. Now that may not sound that great, but the way Michael delivered it was so inspiring. The client was gobsmacked and said “In my next life I want to come back as a Graphic Designer!”. Wow, just wow. Highest praise I have ever heard from a client!


To see Andy’s winning entry follow the link: .

Molly Parker came in second with this entry: .

Phoebe Ellis came in third: .


Keep your eyes on our website and social media pages for our 2016 competition details in May.