Greg Straight's a busy boy. When he's not at his day job in a design studio, he's illustrating - for some of New Zealand's biggest brands who commission him, for his first children's book, for a line of stationery, and for his own range of art prints. No Sleep McGee.
Was there a point at which you needed to take a big risk or leap of faith to move forward?
About four years ago I decided to take a step back from my day job and have half a day at home with my daughter Chloe. I took a pay cut and madly drew while she had her lunch time sleep, then we would hit the park in the afternoon. As time went on I took a whole day off, and then another. Each time taking a bigger pay cut, which was a little scary with a mortgage and two children. But it was never a huge risk as I did it quite gradually.
The biggest leap of faith will be when I leave completely and become fully self employed. I’m lucky to have bosses who understand where I am trying to go...
What advice would you give to another illustrator who wants to get to where you are?
Become a builder or plumber you get paid more! Kidding, well sort of. I think you need to work to your strengths and do what you enjoy doing. If you love what you do it shines from the work...
You also need to DO something to get your work seen. Enter competitions, approach clients directly, chase leads, make books, create portfolio packs, have shows, do flyers, whatever, but put yourself out there. No one will ever see how good you are if your work never leaves your Mac.
It's definitely not an easy road, you have to work really, really hard, expect lots of late nights and to sacrifice things you love doing. But it’s also very rewarding when you produce something that people love, it’s a cool buzz.
I'm hungry... what are you eating for lunch lately?
Good question! When I am at my day job in Milford you can’t beat The Swiss Café for a salami baguette, or the Japanese place on the main strip amongst the mobility scooters and blue rinsed old ladies waiting for the bus. At home it’s Sushi or a quick cheesy toastie. I have to add Farro Fresh in Albany make the best sandwiches I’ve tasted, off the cheese board. They also do amazing sweet treats, the other day I had my first Cronut, half croissant, half donut. Got me thinking….. Maybe I should invent the world's first Bronut. Watch this space.
What are you getting up to in the weekend?
Potluck Mexican night with friends on Saturday and a few outings to local parks and cafes with Chloe and Leo... and a bit of work.
What is your most favorite thing in your studio?
Without sounding cheesy probably my wife Hannah who sits behind me, often trying to ignore my constant mindless banter. It can’t be easy. I have a good-sized collection of design books and collect Monster Children magazines.
Awesome photos by Jono Parker
We love a good recommendation - tell me about something (or things) we should know about...
I was recently looking at Geoff Mcfetridge’s work - if you don’t know him, what are you doing? Check out www.championdontstop.com.
An amazing book I bought the other day is called Vectorism – Vector Graphics Today, it is totally inspiring and reinforces the way my art and illustrations are heading. It’s a collection of the world’s best illustrators James Joyce, Anthony Burrill, Onesidezero, Craig & Karl and Janine Rewell plus loads more. Google those peeps and you may just fall off your chair!
I don’t get out much these days but my friends John and Lorna took us to Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar in Federal Street as a birthday present and it was mind blowing. The fish Tacos I would kill you for!
Frenchy baker buddy from Greg's first children's book, While You Were Sleeping
You know that classic old Chelsea Golden Syrup tin from our childhoods?
They've just released an Artist's Collector's Edition, with illustrations by Greg.