A person who is creative, typically
in a professional context.


Simon in his Ponsonby based design studio, 1994.

Simon concentrated on academic subjects at high school in Auckland, focusing on maths, English and science. It wasn’t until after his graduation in 1987 that he decided to study graphic design at a tertiary level. His thinking back then was, ‘I want an office job, but I also want to build things with my hands’.

Having no real portfolio, it was a small miracle that he was accepted into the new Applied Art and Design course at Taranaki Polytechnic. Simon quickly realised that creativity came naturally. His course tutors, talented professionals from the USA, inspired him with an open-boundary approach to design solutions. In his final year (1989), Simon took a research trip to LA then New York and produced an acclaimed documentary video about his growing illustration and design portfolio.

In 1990 The Auckland University of Technology (AUT) accepted Simon into the final diploma year of the immensely popular Art and Design Department. This was the first time that a design student had ever successfully cross-credited into the course, a testament to his creative talent. In his final year at AUT he conducted research into computer animation, interactive multimedia (pre-internet), story boarding and off-line video production. While still a student, he freelanced for TVNZ and UniTech and consulted for the AV department within AUT. He was the first student at AUT to graduate with distinctions in all assessments, and was presented with a special award by advertising legend Marco Marinkovich. Simon was ready for ‘business time’.

Throughout 1991, New Zealand was still suffering from an economic hangover due to the 1987 share market crash. Unemployment was relatively high; the job market tight; and the new era of digital design had just begun. Simon was quickly employed by the National Business Review as an editorial artist, primarily to harness the power of the newly released Macintosh computer. It was within this highly corporate and deadline-driven environment that he learnt the most important lessons of his professional design career.

His intuitive approach to designing on a Mac soon caught the eye of a completely new type of media business. North Shore Auckland based Microdot Media Imaging (now PMP) was the first digital prepress studio in New Zealand to offer design, scanning, film output and offset printing all under one roof. Having the very latest in graphics technology at his fingertips, Simon was in his element. From 1992-93 he produced dozens of eye-popping designs within timeframes that new clients had never thought possible.

Read about Simon Owen’s present here

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