About us

Paradigm is an Auckland design company specialising in what we loosely describe as ‘public interest’ work. Areas of special interest are: environment and sustainability, social justice, public health and the arts. Where we do commercial work it is because those businesses also share our values, eg. ecostore. 

Graphic design and print is what we do most of, including identity design, all manner of print from posters to books, pencils and pens, newsletters, cards, clothes, banners, displays, signage… we design and produce interpretation signage and visitor centres, websites, EDM, direct mail, labels – specialising in the most environmentally friendly and sustainable production and materials available.

We also design and produce more specialised items with swamp kauri, even lasered stone, eg. one-off awards and trophies. We can provide a one-stop-shop for anything involving design, print and manufacture, but are equally happy to work with existing client suppliers. 

our team

 

I was first introduced to Paradigm when I was looking to do work experience for my design degree at AUT. I liked the small team and luckily they seemed to like me too. One day John (the director) asked me, ‘Would you design a brochure for something you don’t believe in?’ I sat there and thought ‘what does this have to do with design? Why is he asking me this question?’. I remember mumbling something at the time, but his question stayed with me.

When I graduated I did not want to get a job straight away but really wanted to study painting. I had enjoyed doing Fine Arts at Elam after my design degree but being a full-time artist seemed impossible. So I managed to get a job as a Mac operator at a design agency, then after a year became a graphic designer at another company.

Thankfully I was also able to handle some freelance work for Paradigm which used my creativity and helped make my life a bit more interesting. And allowed me to hope things could get better.

At the end of 2010, I emailed John to thank him – about how Paradigm made me realise how much I enjoy doing creative work; about having values and ethics in our workplace; about how we should take care of our wonderful environment in Aotearoa; that I was very grateful to have met him and learn things I could not have anywhere else. I guess this was when he thought I had some potential for Paradigm – and so here I am.

What makes Paradigm different? I think it’s because we’re more conscious. Conscious about our environment and our effect on it. Conscious about what we work on, who we work for, what our clients’ consciousness is. We do what we do because we care. We are only a small team of three but like a family, we support and help each other out, especially on unbelievable deadlines. I get to work with amazing people, not always easy, but always for ‘good’.

In June 2020, I took over Paradigm as an owner carrying on our kaupapa – providing great design services for ‘good’ people.

Outside Paradigm, I am an enthusiastic sportsperson playing golf, table tennis, doing rock climbing and going trekking/beach walking. I am passionate about art (although I seldom manage to get to the galleries), eating out, tasting great wines and watching thriller movies.

My first experience with Paradigm was work experience whilst studying, I then continued to do freelance work for a while after. The ethos of people and planet first aligned with my own values and I knew this would be a company I could feel good about working for. Subsequently, I began working full-time for Paradigm in 2008.

What gets me out of bed in the morning, is my cat… she claws at me until i feed her, but at work – I love the opportunity to work with the amazing people that are our clients daily. If I had to chose one aspect of what we do that I love the most, I’d say my biggest passion lies in interpretation and exhibition signage. The challenge of designing sometimes complex information in a valuable and visually appealing way is a lot of fun for me.

When I’m not at work a lot of my time is spent riding bikes, gravel, road and a bit of mountain biking. I am a huge animal lover and am kept busy with my cats and rabbits plus doing some volunteer work at a local cat rescue. I also love all things DIY and building/making/playing with timber – the only trouble is I have more ideas and projects planned than time to complete them!

My graphics and printing career began as a stripper at Photo Engravers Ltd; someone who takes paper-based artwork and photos or transparencies, does the camera and film work to combine it, then makes printing plates. Technology now completely obsolete. It was fascinating, interesting, challenging, with the best workmates ever. From my saxophonist foreman to magicians, in-house movie makers, multi-talented craftsmen, exiles and refugees from post-war Europe, pioneer skateboarders, the odd rich kid, skilled mimics, a lolly addict… our factory was a hard-working, hard-playing, buzzing, creative beehive.

After brief work stints in Hamilton I (with wife and one-year-old son) went bush up north on a family-owned block of land at Matapouri.

Living off the land (and the sea) at the beach in the 1970s was fun but also very hard work. I eventually worked at Northland Polytechnic establishing a public access print facility. At the National School of Printing, ATI, I trained in typography and letterpress printing, bookbinding and marbling; and gained an abiding respect for traditional printing skills.

Whangarei had also by then attracted some very interesting and dynamic people – Labour Department, Community Arts Council (CAC) feminists, eco-warriors, Maori activists, enlightened business people, local and international artists – who together created an extraordinary milieu of energetic creativity: Whangarei CAC put on the most astounding show any of us had experienced, the Whangarei All Human Circus; PEP and TEP schemes imaginatively employed locals to build all sorts of ‘public’ assets – then slowly the energy dissipated as people moved on, funding parameters changed and some among us actually got real jobs!

Off to Melbourne to work for Housing Victoria which included designing and printing in up to 16 languages, brochure runs of 300,000 copies at a time, working on events to support the homeless, teaching the unemployed desktop publishing skills, publishing local history books – and tried not to stare at the stubble-etched ‘man-ladies’ (as our kids called them) on the St Kilda train.

Finally the lack of green fields and old friends, and the cost of flying kids backwards and forwards, all became too much and we cried coming in over the emerald fields of South Auckland. We came home to the dire heritage of the Douglas/Prebble cabal, and the unknown – just the dream that became Paradigm.

It has been far from easy, with many ups and downs along the way. It’s always financially difficult as we work mainly with people who are driven by ideals and seldom have generous budgets.

What has made it possible, and for the most part personally very rewarding, has been the quite humbling loyalty of our clients, and the equally humbling hard work, dedication and creativity of Paradigm’s brilliant staff over many years.

our team

 

I was first introduced to Paradigm when I was looking to do work experience for my design degree at AUT. I liked the small team and luckily they seemed to like me too. One day John (the director) asked me, ‘Would you design a brochure for something you don’t believe in?’ I sat there and thought ‘what does this have to do with design? Why is he asking me this question?’. I remember mumbling something at the time, but his question stayed with me.

When I graduated I did not want to get a job straight away but really wanted to study painting. I had enjoyed doing Fine Arts at Elam after my design degree but being a full-time artist seemed impossible. So I managed to get a job as a Mac operator at a design agency, then after a year became a graphic designer at another company.

Thankfully I was also able to handle some freelance work for Paradigm which used my creativity and helped make my life a bit more interesting. And allowed me to hope things could get better.

At the end of 2010, I emailed John to thank him – about how Paradigm made me realise how much I enjoy doing creative work; about having values and ethics in our workplace; about how we should take care of our wonderful environment in Aotearoa; that I was very grateful to have met him and learn things I could not have anywhere else. I guess this was when he thought I had some potential for Paradigm – and so here I am.

What makes Paradigm different? I think it’s because we’re more conscious. Conscious about our environment and our effect on it. Conscious about what we work on, who we work for, what our clients’ consciousness is. We do what we do because we care. We are only a small team of three but like a family, we support and help each other out, especially on unbelievable deadlines. I get to work with amazing people, not always easy, but always for ‘good’.

In June 2020, I took over Paradigm as an owner carrying on our kaupapa – providing great design services for ‘good’ people.

Outside Paradigm, I am an enthusiastic sportsperson playing golf, table tennis, doing rock climbing and going trekking/beach walking. I am passionate about art (although I seldom manage to get to the galleries), eating out, tasting great wines and watching thriller movies.

My first experience with Paradigm was work experience whilst studying, I then continued to do freelance work for a while after. The ethos of people and planet first aligned with my own values and I knew this would be a company I could feel good about working for. Subsequently, I began working full-time for Paradigm in 2008.

What gets me out of bed in the morning, is my cat… she claws at me until i feed her, but at work – I love the opportunity to work with the amazing people that are our clients daily. If I had to chose one aspect of what we do that I love the most, I’d say my biggest passion lies in interpretation and exhibition signage. The challenge of designing sometimes complex information in a valuable and visually appealing way is a lot of fun for me.

When I’m not at work a lot of my time is spent riding bikes, gravel, road and a bit of mountain biking. I am a huge animal lover and am kept busy with my cats and rabbits plus doing some volunteer work at a local cat rescue. I also love all things DIY and building/making/playing with timber – the only trouble is I have more ideas and projects planned than time to complete them!

My graphics and printing career began as a stripper at Photo Engravers Ltd; someone who takes paper-based artwork and photos or transparencies, does the camera and film work to combine it, then makes printing plates. Technology now completely obsolete. It was fascinating, interesting, challenging, with the best workmates ever. From my saxophonist foreman to magicians, in-house movie makers, multi-talented craftsmen, exiles and refugees from post-war Europe, pioneer skateboarders, the odd rich kid, skilled mimics, a lolly addict… our factory was a hard-working, hard-playing, buzzing, creative beehive.

After brief work stints in Hamilton I (with wife and one-year-old son) went bush up north on a family-owned block of land at Matapouri.

Living off the land (and the sea) at the beach in the 1970s was fun but also very hard work. I eventually worked at Northland Polytechnic establishing a public access print facility. At the National School of Printing, ATI, I trained in typography and letterpress printing, bookbinding and marbling; and gained an abiding respect for traditional printing skills.

Whangarei had also by then attracted some very interesting and dynamic people – Labour Department, Community Arts Council (CAC) feminists, eco-warriors, Maori activists, enlightened business people, local and international artists – who together created an extraordinary milieu of energetic creativity: Whangarei CAC put on the most astounding show any of us had experienced, the Whangarei All Human Circus; PEP and TEP schemes imaginatively employed locals to build all sorts of ‘public’ assets – then slowly the energy dissipated as people moved on, funding parameters changed and some among us actually got real jobs!

Off to Melbourne to work for Housing Victoria which included designing and printing in up to 16 languages, brochure runs of 300,000 copies at a time, working on events to support the homeless, teaching the unemployed desktop publishing skills, publishing local history books – and tried not to stare at the stubble-etched ‘man-ladies’ (as our kids called them) on the St Kilda train.

Finally the lack of green fields and old friends, and the cost of flying kids backwards and forwards, all became too much and we cried coming in over the emerald fields of South Auckland. We came home to the dire heritage of the Douglas/Prebble cabal, and the unknown – just the dream that became Paradigm.

It has been far from easy, with many ups and downs along the way. It’s always financially difficult as we work mainly with people who are driven by ideals and seldom have generous budgets.

What has made it possible, and for the most part personally very rewarding, has been the quite humbling loyalty of our clients, and the equally humbling hard work, dedication and creativity of Paradigm’s brilliant staff over many years.

sustainability

Sustainability is relatively simple to define: living and working in such a way that Earth and its resources are no less available to any future generation. Easy to say, and easy to claim for a business or a product, but it’s in our daily lives that sustainable change has to happen. The United Nations, well aware of the global situation, challenges us all “to adopt new behaviours and practices to secure our future”. Now more relevant than ever.

We started Paradigm in 1989 with sustainability as a key foundation for the business, and our services. And it still is. As original members of AEBN (Auckland Environmental Network), later SBN (Sustainable Business Network), we have always believed business could and should do better. Now as others see the importance of sustainable business, we are proud to have helped lead the way. We not only help out on SBN planting days but privately plant 500-1000 natives per year on restoration sites in Auckland and further north.

Our whole operation is lean and mean with few frills: not always the best advertisement for a business, but for us, the kaupapa and mahi are more important than a costly façade. It also means we keep your costs to a minimum.

We have always given advice freely, sometimes in the hope that it might lead to more work, but primarily because we want our clients to be able to make informed choices. Ask us about anything to do with sustainability, about how to print greener, about using design to solve problems, about local production vs China, about how to look after your native garden…

History

July 1989. First day, a cold Monday morning in a Freemans Bay front room: four of us, one job to start business with, no computers, no money, and a fraught and intense negotiation with Customs at Auckland Airport.

Wednesday morning, after some urgent family help, and a lot of running around we unpacked the gear and started up. From the start our kaupapa was clear – we would offer a professional service primarily to the not-for-profit sector – or as we also defined it, do public interest work.

We had no idea if it would work, no business plan, and only one certain job (Greenpeace News); or even if anyone wanted their printing on recycled paper. The only others we knew of working from a similar values perspective were Grapus in Paris and The Media Collective in Wellington. Social Change Media in Sydney followed shortly after.

In retrospect I think we probably started at exactly the right time, when others were also waking up to doing things differently, and that business as usual would not get us much further.

From the start though, we made it really difficult for ourselves: recycled paper was limited and of poor quality (printers hated it), there were no vegetable oil-based inks, no digital processes in the industry (apart from some pioneering Macintosh computers and small black-only laser printers), scanning was still being done by specialists on $300,000 drum scanners, labour and chemical intensive prepress, and few printers were even interested in doing things differently.

In 2020 after a significant health event, John Ringer has relinquished his role as owner/director and passed responsibility to Katie Lee, a long-time Paradigm team member. Katie and Danielle are both committed to carrying on the Paradigm values-based kaupapa and continuing the journey with our clients.

PO Box 95035, Swanson, Auckland 0653
phone 09 360 7104 : email: [email protected]