Manual Magazine

ProGear Presents: Decent Exposure with Noah Butcher

Posted by manualmagazine on Wednesday December 9 2015

This week’s Decent Exposure welcomes one of Manual’s earliest designers, Noah Butcher. We put the man responsible for some of Manual’s most experimental covers in the spotlight to discuss his influences, processes and favourites in the current age of graphic design.

Supported by ProGear.

ProGear Presents: Decent Exposure with Noah Butcher

How did you get started?
As a young skateboarder I was quietly obsessive about skate graphics, skate logos, magazines, skate ads. They were hard to come by back then, so it fuelled that obsession even more. I found myself imitating and copying skate ads, logos and board graphics — at that point {as stupid as it sounds} I didn’t even know what a graphic designer or art director was.

How did you find your style? Has it changed since you started?
The last few years I’ve been focusing on process over style — enjoying the process of design, not simply the outcome. This is important, I’m still trying to learn this.

My style has definitely changed over the years though, I used to do a lot of illustrative and textural work – Its something I’d like pursue again outside of commercial work.

What designers and creatives do you look up to?
Lernert & Sander, IDEO, Geoff McFetridge — to name a few. There are so many talented people out there.

What gear do you use day to day?
A3 sketch pad, Staedtler – Mars technico 780 Leadholder pencil, iMac, Mac Book Pro, Leica X1.

ProGear Presents: Decent Exposure with Noah Butcher

Manual #8 and #9

Among your work, do you have a favourite piece?
I may look back on some of my work years/months later and go, ‘Ah, thats kinda cool’… but I find it challenging to like my own work.

As I’m hunting down some old Manual work for this interview, I really liked the design freedom we had with the magazine when it was free — The Matt West cover {Issue 9, 2002} with all the CMYK colours — The Cover with Dave Verheul’s MRI scan of his knee {Issue 8, 2001}, its pretty loose and experimental for a magazine cover – you can hardly read any type. I think Dave {Read} and I were keen to just do whatever was a fun, and not be too serious at the time. Then when the first ‘on-sale’ issue[s] were designed {issue 10, 2002, Tim Bremner-melon}, I started to get a little more serious and ‘design-wank’ with a new look for the magazine. I think I may have been trying a little too hard, but even 13-14 years later, I’m still proud of the posters, covers and mag design at that particular turning point in the magazines history.

Current work — I’m liking the gold plated sausage called: ’Life is a Sausage’. It’s a client gift we made this year. It still puts a smile on my face.

ProGear Presents: Decent Exposure with Noah Butcher

Did you study in your field/ do you think it’s necessary?
I studied at Otago Uni {Art History & Design} — then transferred to Massey Uni in Wellington for a Bachelors Degree in Design Communication.

Is it necessary? — not sure, I think there is no ‘right’ way of doing it. I think with or without a degree, if you have the drive and truly want to do it, get out there and do it. The act of ‘doing’ and creating is most important.

What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started
All TAB results/wins for the last 15 years

What’s the most fun part of your job?
The start of a new brief/problem to solve — the start is the honey-moon period where things are new, anything is possible and ideas are flooding in and flowing.

At the moment I’m enjoying working with other creatives; 3D Artists, Illustrators, photographers, writers, web developers — its great to work with talented individuals to help bring creative ideas to life.

ProGear Presents: Decent Exposure with Noah Butcher

What is your working environment like?
I have a design studio within our house, so its pretty mellow… I find myself opening the fridge door a lot and just staring — for no reason at all.

How do you deal with creative slumps?
Leave the desk, and go and do something else, walk, skate, bike ride or whatever — just get away from the computer or work environment that you’re in, then come back to the sketch pad and start writing and drawing.

What other types of jobs have you had?
Many-many short lived jobs when I was younger, I would get bored really quickly and just leave — I was ‘tinting’ glass there for a while in early days of University; security film, frosted glass, decals etc. — No other professional jobs out side of the design/advertising industry though.

What was the first thing you designed/made?
Probably a ‘poo sculpture’, I’d have to ask my mother that question though.

ProGear Presents: Decent Exposure with Noah Butcher

Advice for someone starting out?
Don’t wait around for someone to give you permission to be creative, just start creating something — anything. Don’t hold on to your ideas too long, get them out and make room for new ones.

Can you briefly explain your creative process, mediums, etc?
This varies from personal work to commercial work. Generally I follow a simple creative process for commercial work— Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver. This process can be applied to any brief; digital design, identity, brand development, illustration, packaging, art direction etc.

Have you always enjoyed design?
Yes; it can be a curse though, I like all aspects of design from product, architecture, photography and furniture the list goes on — the problem is, you’re trained to be hyper critical of design-form-and-function, and that can get tiring, so finding a balance between switching ‘off’ and ‘on’ is important.

NB632x150 progear

Image Gallery (13 Photos)

  1. Web Design
  2. Manual #8 and #9