Nicole Hetherington on life amongst Austr-aliens.

Nicole Hetherington on life amongst Austr-aliens.

A native New Zealander, Nicole Hetherington has called Sydney home for almost a decade. Alongside creative partner Simon Fowler, her work has been awarded around the globe including winning Australia's first 'Black Pencil' for innovation at D&AD, akin to a world cup trophy for design and advertising. Today Nicole works with clients in both Australia and NZ, and let us in on her experience of creative life in Sydney, the similarities in culture and differences you might not expect.

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ON WHERE YOU’RE FROM

Auckland, NZ.

ON WHY YOU MOVED TO SYDNEY 

A mixture of personal and professional. I was 21, ready for a change, ready to mix up the scenery and be lost in a bigger city. Luckily it coincided with a job opportunity over here. 

ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SYDNEY

Long-term.  At about the 7 year mark I started to get the itch. But when I looked at the potentials of where to next – Sydney won the battle.

ON WINDOW SEAT OR AISLE 

Always the window. Windows are key for naps.

 

Above: Nicole Hetherington judging the D&AD Awards in London. Below: Nicole on a panel discussion with Google Japan. Images courtesy Nicole Hetherington.

ON WHERE YOU’RE LIVING 

Like most kiwis living in Sydney I reside in the East. After trialing Darlinghurst, Woollahra and Bondi – I’ve found home in Surry Hills. It’s chill. It’s close to the beach. It has heaps of great cafes. And I live on a really cool street that has heaps of cats.

ON DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AUSTRALIA AND NZ 

Seeing as most people think that Australia and New Zealand are one country (yes they really are not) – the differences are small to most but vast to us kiwis. Sydney has been a very positive influence on my life, there is a small obsession with fitness and health and it has really rubbed off. There are so many terrains to explore that you find yourself constantly moving and exploring in Sydney. It’s energising.

When you grow up in New Zealand, it seems huge and I think it takes living in another country to see how unique and isolated it really is.  

In New Zealand the Maori culture is also very evident in all aspects of life – whether this be through food, the events, the arts. In Sydney it has a lot more of an international feel and vibe, it’s touched by so many different cultures and that’s rubbed off on the day to day living. These cultural differences definitely create different outputs of creativity between the two countries.

Seeing as most people think that Australia and New Zealand are one country (yes they really are not) – the differences are small to most but vast to us kiwis.

ON WORKING WITH BRANDS IN AUSTRALIA AND NZ 

Culturally Kiwi clients and Australian clients are very similar – the majority of them want to create work they are proud of. Both industries are super passionate and it’s inspiring to be around. As expected, there are a few less hoops to jump through working in NZ, as marketing teams are smaller and sometimes so are the budgets – so you see a lot of brave and daring work produced.

ON CREATIVE INSPIRATION

The gym..as strange as it sounds. The gym is where I do my best thinking. It clears my head and can spark a streak of genius (at times). Nothing like pushing out a quick set of squats to push out a good idea haha!

 

‘The Most Powerful Arm Ever Invented’, a robotic arm created to invite sufferers of Duchenne muscular dystrophy to sign a petition to fight the disease. Awarded a Black Pencil at the D&AD Awards. Images courtesy Nicole Hetherington.

ON HOW A NEW CULTURE HAS INFLUENCED YOUR WORK 

If anything, it’s driven me to push myself creatively. Being exposed to a new culture and way of life means I have had to adapt my ideas and my thinking. The Australian creative competition is huge compared to the one back home, so it puts the ‘fear’ in me. But in a good way. I work across both NZ and Kiwi accounts still to this day, so it provides a lot of variety and challenges me daily.

ON SOMETHING UNIQUE TO SYDNEY’S CREATIVE CULTURE 

The diverse backgrounds of people that live here. Yes, that can be said for many big cities, but when you immerse yourself in these cultures you see a different perspective on life, work – everything.

The diverse backgrounds of people that live here.. When you immerse yourself in these cultures you see a different perspective on life, work – everything.

ON SOMETHING TO DO WHEN YOU FIRST ARRIVE 

Get down the coast. Escaping the hustle of Sydney is one of the best experiences, it’s relaxing and refreshing. Jervis Bay being at the top of the list.

ON THE BEST SPOT TO WORK OUTSIDE THE OFFICE 

A sun-drenched park.

 

Above: The cliffs of Sydney’s coastline.  Below: Nicole wielding a sledgehammer.

ON GOOD FOOD 

Da Orazio.

ON A FAVOURITE AUSTRALIAN FILM  

Lion.

ON WHERE YOU SPENT YOUR FIRST $500 AUD 

IKEA Furniture. Or cocktails in Kings Cross. Sadly.

ON SOMETHING FROM AUCKLAND YOU NEED A FIX OF IN SYDNEY 

Fejoas. Yet to find the fix. Would love tips if anyone knows where to source them in Sydney. 

ON SYDNEY IN ONE WORD  

Distinct.

 

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Nuggets in this interview

neighborhoods

Surry Hills, Sydney

"I’ve found home in Surry Hills. It’s chill. It’s close to the beach. It has heaps of great cafes. And I live on a really cool street that has heaps of cats".

–Nicole Hetherington

food and drink

Da Orazio, Sydney

"Favourite place to eat...Da Orazio"

–Nicole Hetherington

travel

Jarvis Bay

"Escaping the hustle of Sydney is one of the best experiences, it’s relaxing and refreshing. Jervis Bay being at the top of the list".

–Nicole Hetherington

food and drink

Feijoas, Sydney

"Fejoas. Yet to find the fix. Would love tips if anyone knows where to source them in Sydney".

–Nicole Hetherington

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