Q&A with Amy Matthews, a Kiwi Designer in San Francisco.

Amy Matthews is a NZ designer born and bred. She currently lives in San Francisco and like many of us, is working remotely. We caught up with Amy to see how she is feeling during these times, what she is working on and how she is keeping creatively stimulated from afar.

What took you to the States Amy and how long have you worked there for now?
I first came to San Francisco on an international exchange program while completing my degree. I fell in love with the Bay Area and found my way back here not long after I graduated. I have been living and working here for a little over two years now.

Which studios have you worked for and who are you currently working for?
My first role here was an in-house design role at an architecture studio. Now I am the graphic designer for SFFILM, the non-profit organization that puts on the annual San Francisco International Film Festival as well as other year-round film screenings and programs.

What sort of projects are you working on?
Well, as of writing this, it should have been the first week of our 2020 film festival, but less than a month out from opening night, due to Covid19, the festival had to be cancelled. It quickly became clear we had no other option. It was heartbreaking for all of us who had worked tirelessly leading up to it, not just within our organization but for all the filmmakers who will not have their work exhibited, some whose projects were years in the making. Our whole office cried during the meeting when the decision to cancel was announced. My biggest project of the season had been designing the creative identity for the festival. This included a large out-of-home campaign and a 70-page, printed program guide. Although the program booklet sadly won’t be printed, I still gained great experience and learning from the work I did complete. Our organization couldn’t spend long mourning the loss of the festival before turning around and figuring out what to do next. Right now I am working on the creative direction for our newly launched ‘SFFILM at Home’ campaign which is our response to this weird time, where we are producing online events and content in collaboration with filmmakers and artists that would have been in our festival. I am glad to be part of a great team of people who are so passionate and committed to finding ways that film and the arts can still bring people together during this time of social distancing.

How are you set up to work from home and how are you keeping yourself on course each day?
I am fortunate to have the ability and the tools to work from home. My workplace was thankfully already well set up for this, pre-Covid19, so in a practical sense, the transition to working from home was fairly easy. The day our shelter-in-place order was announced I went to our office and brought home my extra monitor, and now we’re over here on zoom meetings all day just like everyone else. The reality of the weirdness and difficulty of this situation is not always as easy, and the feelings of restlessness or what-is-the-point does hit me in waves. To counter this and stay productive and feeling creatively inspired I am using this opportunity to pick back up some of my personal creative projects and to develop some skills. I’ve been following a number of AfterEffects tutorials, getting back into animation and have started a new embroidery project. Eye on Design put together a great list of design resources to work through during this time. It’s super inspiring to see what other creatives are doing and making in response to these strange times, there is no shortage of that right now.

As a Kiwi abroad, how are you feeling during these times of uncertainty?
It’s definitely unsettling being abroad during this bizarre time, and I am always monitoring how travel and my ability to return home is being affected. I do feel lucky to be where I am at though, San Francisco responded quickly to enforce a lock down and as a result our city is now coping well compared to other places in the US. It’s hard being away from friends and family in NZ, but I am finding that I am in closer contact with people now than before, so in some ways I feel more connected than ever. To know that we are all going through the same thing wherever we are in the world is a small comfort.

Who is your favourite American design practice? And if you were back in NZ who would you love to work for?
An American design studio I admire the work of a lot is Collins, with an office in SF, they have a big presence in this city, they do a lot of cool work for some of the big tech companies here as well as creative marketing campaigns for local galleries and museums. The other thing I love about the Bay Area design scene is all the great independent book publishers we have here, one of my highlights this year was going to the SF Art Book fair (back when we could still do things like that). From afar I have admired a lot of great design work happening in NZ, Studio South is one I have been impressed with the work of lately.

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