Leigh Paterson Headshot.jpg

Leigh Anne Paterson is a lecturer in Communication Design at Otago Polytechnic, College of Art, Design and Architecture – specialising in graphic design and design history and theory. Ms Paterson has a keen interest in typography, mark-making, pop culture and issues and intersections relative to design concerning; appropriation, technology, dissent, gender, space, subversion and banalities. Working in collaboration Paterson's work was screened as part of the short film Zebulon at Cannes Court Métrage - Festival de Cannes, 2017. Latest publication: Designer Pussy: The Role of Graphic Design as an Arbiter of Gender Representation, part of an edited collection Orienting Feminism: Media, Activism, and Cultural Representation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)



Air New Zealand’s new Air All Blacks in flight video needs a new line out. Boys Club? Maybe…


When you fail, what do you do? You get up and try again and try Air New Zealand has with the new Air All Blacks safety video. What do you do to restore faith in a national airline provider when the It's Kiwi Safety rap inspired video falls flat? Well you go back to basics and use the very thing New Zealanders love most about themselves - rugby. Rucking hell!

I guess that’s fine we're the best at it, but let’s for a minute examine the mask that conveniently slots over the All Blacks and their global domination. The Air All Blacks video makes me want to put air masks on some associated issues that haven't been given much oxygen. 

I have a confession, I don't follow rugga - never have after growing up in small town New Zealand and having it rammed down my throat. So I find the current video no less unpalatable than the Sports Illustrated models fronting the "Safety in Paradise" in 2014. Vom.

Air New Zealand are well and truly back in black and not in an Amy Winehouse kinda way although on second inspection maybe. At some point Aotearoa has to have a chat about violence and alcohol, and could we also address the fact that rugby by proxy can perpetuate violence. Not through the game and play directly, unless you have an agro player or supporter. But the fact that alcohol is consumed in great amounts when the game is played which provides a powder keg for anti-social behaviour. Don’t believe it, well check out the Advertising Standards Authority which has very strong and clear guidelines for sports and alcohol advertising. New Zealand Advertising Standards has a liquor code condition that prevents any alcohol advertising that refers to identifiable heroes or heroines of the young - I'm looking at you All Blacks.  And as fate would have it there is currently a review of this condition currently taking place and submissions are open till August 23, 2019. Go Crazy! No time to look into that, fair enough, well just take a long late night sober stroll through your CBD after a game and watch. Crazy!

What is also crazy is the kind of ideas we are perpetuating about success and national pride? Why aren't we celebrating our most successful rugby players to enhance the future of the game? Is it because the All Blacks would have to concede they're not the most successful rugby team in the world - I’m looking at you Black Ferns. Great to see Fiao'o Fa'amausili in the video but how about an acknowledge of who she is (the best) and let’s have more members of the most successful rugby team Aotearoa has ever known in the video. Why aren't more Black Ferns part of the so called aviation celebration of our national game? Please explain this to me. And if it’s simply that the All Blacks are protecting their own brand and couldn’t possibly ask more than one woman who is absolutely more successful to share the stage with them then I call B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T. Shame on you All Blacks and Air New Zealand. When will the All Blacks share a national parade with the Black Ferns celebrating the success of rugby in Aotearoa?  When we decide to actually show how we are collectively the best at rugby - that is the day I will take rugby seriously in this country.

There is also something even more f-ed in this cluster $@!* video regarding being ourselves and owning our shit - it’s insulting to New Zealanders and Americans to have Rick Hoffman play himself playing an American stereotypical lawyer from Suits to shame the previous safety video. Meta. Um, the airline "lawyer" banning rap and inferring the rap was crap? Well, that’s on you Air New Zealand that’s what you paid for and art directed. Meta, meta. Who are these videos for? Are they to simply to win awards? Or are they to help people when things go tits up? Or are these videos perpetuating societal norms that are actually archetypal tripe in disguise? Seems like the only thing on display in the safety video is corporate shame regarding governance, management and direction. It's not inspirational it’s boring AF.

Actually, isn’t the outgoing Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon planning some time in politics in the future? An appropriated and unauthorised meme cartoon doing the rounds would suggest so. Is this video a means to make Christopher Luxon look really cool and awesome in case he decides to enter politics? Be powerful, have success, go out on a high in September, 2019 ready to take on politics in 2020. If that’s the case mate, up ya game. Cause at the moment rugby, Air New Zealand and its leadership is certainly not the winner on the day. Instead there is a perpetuation of myths about success and power in New Zealand. If the Air All Blacks safety video is anything to go by, what is reflected is an old boys club plain and simple. Is that what we want in politics too?

Important to note at this juncture the Air New Zealand staff I have encountered are exceptional, I have personally watched with great interest as prominent Aotearoa politicians have thrown their weight around in front of Air New Zealand check-in staff and have been met with the kind of grace and humility you can try and muster when a person in a high position of power is having a tantrum. Air New Zealand staff truly embody the values that reflect kindness and respect for all travelers and that's why Air New Zealand keeps winning awards.  

On a personal note thank you to Robin the baggage handler who I spoke with after my bag was broken in transition recently - he was genuinely sorry, I said "It's ok I understand that it can happen" and he responded "well we are trained to treat the bags like they are our own" and gave me tips on how to fix it and suggested I make a claim. Choice Robin. Thank you.

Source: Youtube

Source: Youtube

In short the new safety video is a new level of boring and actually banal, but shame on anyone who criticizes rugby, surely it must just be this crazy bitch. Well, the really nice stranger seated beside me also thought it sucked and so did his wife - he said so out loud inflight and we discussed it. Bring back the glitz and glam of Richard Simmons that was brave and inspired. When watching, the only shining light was Sir John Kirwan not because of his performance in the video but because of all the mahi he does very publicly outside of his rugby bubble. The untold influence that the All Blacks and people in power have, truly affects people and culture more than a win or a lose and this is something the All Blacks should consider when rolling out their brand. Air New Zealand and its leadership should also consider how important these videos are in telling the world who we are and what we stand for. I mean just count the use of the word guys, fellas and boys vs girls, ladies and women – 6 - 0. One of many many missed opportunities. Game over. So, I guess rugby was the winner on the day.

Badgers Badges Submission: Ask me about my privilege - Street Intervention, August 2019

Ask me about my privilege mimics in-store marketing collateral that prompts conversations regarding something new or an added "extra". The badge acts as a conduit to elicit questions regarding power and knowledge transfer. Borrowing from consumerism and its culture to speculate and subvert artificial messages in the attempt to sell something, through the stories we tell ourselves and by perpetuating ideas about success and commenting on ones access to opportunities and resources. Ask me about my privilege examines the conditions in which access to cultural conditions allows intangible transactions to take place that limits the success of others while simultaneously strengthening the advancement and dominance of others. The perceived duality of these conditions are not fixed nor a simple paradox - this behaviour creeps into any social exchange and capital, hence the badge provides a platform to reveal nodes relative to hierarchy and power.

Screen Shot 2019-08-16 at 10.10.21 PM.png

The intent of Ask me about my privilege is to challenge the wearer to have an internal hui by asking themselves about the privilege they have and more importantly as a provocation, co-opting the individual into talking about their lived experience with others. Ask me about my privilege requires the so called "woke" individual to go deeper. You gotta identify it, know it and acknowledge it to talk about it and understand it - however this can be extremely problematic. Amanda Hess discusses this issue in a New York Times opinion piece called Earning the 'woke' badge, (April,2016) whereby there is an issue with the perceived fashion of being politically correct, coupled with its own feedback loop which is increasingly fraught. She discusses this problem stating:

"Being an ally means speaking up on behalf of others — but it often means amplifying the ally’s own voice, or centering a white person in a movement created by black activists, or celebrating a man who supports women’s rights when feminists themselves are attacked as man-haters. Wokeness has currency, but it’s all too easy to spend it." 1

Hence while it is important to discuss privilege there is responsibility in regards to how any conversations and associated ideas surrounding privilege operate. I use Hess's piece literally and theoretically to question all parts of any "badges" that are worn both in form, thought and context. Ask me about my privilege in this sense could be supremely progressive or regressive depending on the wearer and the stories they tell themselves and others. With great power comes great responsibility2.

Ask me about my privilege is set in "flesh" coloured "ASK ME" a hand rendered "human typography". Of particular interest is an Australian journal article entitled "Feel blue, touch green: examples of green spaces promoting mental health" which was commissioned to investigate how incorporating nature or natural features into designed environments helps increase human health benefits3. Hence the background colour is influenced by research surrounding "staying calm" and the colour green. Coupled with purple secondary typography as a call to action regarding privilege.

1. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/24/magazine/earning-the-woke-badge.html
2. Plan de travail, de surveillance et de correspondance, proposé par le Comité de Salut Public aux Représentans du Peuple, députés prés des Armées de la République" of the French National Convention, 1793.3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5663020/



Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 2.10.58 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-05-24 at 3.53.43 PM.png
ODT - Voting at the checkout.jpg


LAP - May, 2018


Last week the city was hit with a design crime. Dunedin became a city know internationally for not quite knowing what to do with genitalia. Suddenly out of nowhere genitalia was thrust into the face of the greater public and the black line of censorship reared its ugly head. The division over the graphic depiction of a body and associated body parts saw the collective imagination whipped into a frenzy. The translation of which saw collective outrage and disgust taking place.

Let’s get one thing straight vaginas are everywhere –  a triangle can represent a vagina or vulva – better ban them! A typographical collection of brackets could be a vagina or vulva [{}] – Look away! What do we tell the children! Female genitalia. Dangerous. Menacing. Wayward. The operation of this kind of treatment and backlash around how and when we see genitalia is revealing and what it reveals and conceals is food for thought. Depressingly my suspicions is, if a highly sexualised bikini body akin to the covers produced by Maxim or FHM appeared as the content on the offending Critic edition (May, 2018) I’m not sure people would have been as “outraged” and parents wouldn’t feel the need to have to hide it or explain it to their children. But they should.

Paterson, Leigh. “Times New RoHuman, 150 point”, 2017.

Paterson, Leigh. “Times New RoHuman, 150 point”, 2017.

This censorship is not new as previously stated in The Mix, Designscape column “Space, The Final Frontier” (3 August, 2015) - Nasa in 1972 censored the depiction of female genitalia on the façade of Nasa’s Voyager 10 and 11 on the Pioneer Plaque, a visual device intent on representing humans on earth. And who can forget the I Love Ugly campaign using naked squatting woman as a backdrop to shoot their 2015 men’s jewellery range. That truly is something to get angry about.

 There is unfortunately a double standard at play here - I regularly walk past a local Dunedin business that has a tagline promoting men’s ability to “come first” – which I digest as some weird brand throwback to patriarchy. How funny? And in April this year a public health campaign by Testicular Cancer NZ called “Go Balls Out”. Encouraging the public to download an app so supporters could run shapes of penis’s, “drawing” giant cock and balls as part of a collaborative public challenge. You could even send a TXTICLE to donate to Testicular Cancer Research. How funny?



In contrast the form and content of genitalia in another context saw the core message broadcasted in the edition of Critic becoming secondary and lost somewhere in between pornography and empowerment. The message about menstruation and bringing awareness and understanding was overlooked due to the inability to look deeper.  This muzzling of the message perhaps reveals that we might need to see vaginas and vulva more often. The Critic cover was a timely provocation and offered all members of the public an opportunity. An opportunity to use time and money to discuss and support something they might not know about, and at the very least donate sanitary items to local community organisations who need them. An opportunity to start new discussions and to ask questions you don’t know the answers too. Once the flow of this news cycle has ended I hope some social gestation might take place in regards to how we discuss menstruation. And perhaps learn by the classic idiom that we shouldn’t judge a book (or in this case Critic) by its cover.

 An important touchstone for this discussion was and still is the seminal essay from Gloria Steinem entitled “If Men Could Menstruate” from a collection of essays in Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, 1983. “Three-pad man” p.338 still needs to be deconstructed in regards to the rag.

LAP - March, 2016:



Yeah I know, another somebody bleating on about the flag... I didn't want to care but after the fact I think I really do. Hence here are some Key musings in relation to the politics of design in the flag debate that I have found a Little confusing and amusing.

After collectively waiting in confusion to see who won the rather exhausting national design conchie, I mean contest. We have seen the end of John Key’s vanity, I mean valuable project which has prompted a national debate in relation to the flam, I mean flag. The largest state funded colouring in competition in the history of New Zealand design. WTF, I mean WOW!

It’s been a hair pulling, I mean raising process to create a new logo for our company, I mean country.

Foolish, I mean fearless is how I would describe the relationship between New Zealanders and design during this time. The flag submission process and demockery, I mean democracy of design was evident. In New Zealand everyone seems to be a designer. You might have a medical problem and you’ve never performed open heart surgery before, but hey how hard can it be. Design like open heart surgery is not that easy, I mean easy.

This once in a lifetime referendum has perhaps provided a salient wakeup call to design and designers in New Zealand. A reminder of sorts of how impotent, I mean important the visibility and voice of design has been in this process and how there should be much more respect and consideration of designers in general and the wank, I mean work they do.  And more importantly the value they can add to conversations that influence visual lunacy, I mean literacy.

The flag consideration committee was flawed, I mean formed and delivered a sea of foes, I mean ferns. A dynamic visual cliché, I mean display was presented to the New Zealand public. All the while not one single designer was present to commiserate, I mean communicate in relation to how to get us out of this mess and remind us to focus on the money, I mean mana of the design process.

The yearn for the fern began. Now in the aftermath we have a trail of over 10,000 submissions to the Flag Consideration Project website and a bill of $26 million. That’s approximately $2,600 per submission! The number 8 spirit is alive and hell, I mean well.

I watched with interest as the long standing black and white iteration of the fern flag was strangely declared too graphically similar to ISIS insignia – um, what?! This prompted a swift change in national aesthetics and spawned the birth of the current flag contender aptly and creatively named “Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue)" created by Kyle Lockwood. But if the same rules apply it has all the graphic connotations of a logo from a meat works, I mean has neat quirks. Sport personalities and failed reality stars have come out declaring there needs to be a change – good to be reminded that sports, I mean the spirit of New Zealanders is transferred through Richie McCaw who is our collective cultural and spiritual medium. There have been reports of associated male, I mean mail scandals, whereby at least 200 voting papers have been reported as stolen and tampered with, voting to keep, I mean change the current flag design.

Finally, the flag “debate” in the words of our finest political leaders of the moment (the ones that aren’t sports stars) – Andrew Little in a Stuff live chat stated he “would like to see a different flag”, way to go leader of the submission, I mean opposition. And finally if the John Key memes are anything to go by then he, I mean we are “mentally deficient”, if we were resistant to any change in the flag.

These future reflections of our national identity are Key, I mean Little, I mean Key, I mean Little... oh forget it.