So excited to introduce Dani Hunt (I freaking LOVE this creative goddess!).
Dani is the founder & creative director of Neverland Studio, a design agency for inspired brands that seek to capture the attention of a contemporary audience.
Her design aesthetic is sleek, energetic and electric; Dani combines hand-crafted elements and digital design to create a unique visual experience. Her creative process uncovers a brand’s individual vibe, and translates that into a compelling piece of digital art that tells their story. To summarise – she’s incredible!
Today on the blog we chat all things design and branding!
Hey Dani, let’s get to know you a little better. What do you like to do for fun?
I’m a passionate traveller and am at my happiest when I’m exploring. Ideally, it’s just my husband and I, our backpacks and an open schedule. I also love urban adventures, running, learning new creative skills and feeding my curious brain with new pursuits or ideas. Count me in for anything immersive or high-energy – I’m a bit of a doer.
What inspired you to start your graphic design biz?
Three things. First, a total love of life, and an eagerness to live it to the full and control my own schedule. Second, a longing to stay true to my design style, and do the kind of work that excites and inspires me. And finally, my curiosity and interest in the world of business – it stimulates & challenges my mind!
What’s a typical day in the studio like? (If there is such a thing!)
I’m usually in the studio & ready to rumble by 9 (I’m often the one to unlock the warehouse gate, so this must mean I’m an early bird amongst my creative peers!) I usually tackle my inbox, biz tasks and schedule in the morning. Then in the afternoon, I’ll shift my attention to a design project and immerse myself in the creative process til it’s time to wrap up for the day. Some days it’s easier to stay in-flow than others, but I try to minimise distraction as much as possible.
At the moment I’m working to launch a new business of my own, which is (joyfully) demanding a lot of time, action and creativity! There’s been a few late nights, but they’re the kind that suck you in, all buzzing with excitement.
Do tell. What’s your new business all about?
I’m SUPER excited to spill the beans on this one! I’m creating a branding marketplace that is going to change the way that entrepreneurs brand their businesses. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of the old-school branding process being such a barrier to getting an idea out there. That’s why I’m flipping it on its head. This marketplace will make it quicker, easier, more cost-efficient, and far less stressful to brand and launch a business.
What advice would you give to someone who’s starting out in biz and is at the beginning of their branding journey?
Take the time to clarify your brand personality before beginning to invest in your design assets. Your brand personality should inform your brand image – so this is an important first step that will help clarify the path ahead.
Quality branding is super important when it comes to communicating your expertise and capturing the attention of your tribe. This is especially true if you’re launching a physical product or venue. But don’t let branding be your barrier to getting started. If you’re struggling to find the time, energy and cash to invest in a logo – simply type your brand name out in a sans-serif font like Raleway, in capitals, with lots of letter spacing, and call it a day. This is usually a better approach than hiring a bad designer simply based on affordability. Quality branding is super important, but a lack of it shouldn’t hold you back from getting started – you can revisit it as you grow.
How do you know when it’s time for a rebrand?
You’ll feel it in your gut – It’s when your original branding starts to feel icky, and like a block to communicating your brilliance. If your personality, expertise, product or mission have evolved a lot, it’s usually time to evolve your branding too.
But don’t stress – if the evolution of your business is transparent and seamless, your original tribe will not only come with you on the journey but also help celebrate your growth!
Your biz Neverland Studio is in its 5th year, how has your aesthetic changed over time?
From the get go, my style has been hand-crafted, bold and energetic. I’m also a fan of a sleek minimal aesthetic, and it’s a combination of these styles that really gets me stoked.
My aesthetic has been relatively consistent since I started Neverland, but my confidence in interpreting the client’s vision and directing the best outcome has definitely grown, and that adds a lot of potential to a project!
What projects really light you up?
I love working with all kinds of inspired folks who are open to creative suggestion and looking to make a big, arty impression on the world. I tell ya what though, I do have a soft spot for packaging and venue design – there’s something spesh about seeing your work leap off a screen, and adorn a product or physical space – it’s so rewarding.
We recently did a shoot together in your Melbourne studio (which was so much FUN!) what inspired you to collaborate with Eyes of Love Photography?
Yes! And let me tell you, it was a real highlight for me in biz. Hitting the 5-year mark felt like an epic milestone, and I knew it was time to up my game on a few fronts – photography being one of them.
I’d ogled your work for ages before booking in myself, but I was still in absolute awe of the way in which you captured my space and I so authentically. I was really drawn to working with you for two reasons. Firstly, because of your beautiful energy – I knew you’d make me feel at ease and therefore be able to capture my vibe. Secondly, because I love the luminous glow in your work – honestly – it blows me away.
How did you feel in the lead up and during your shoot?
I’m not going to lie, I felt a little nervous! I wasn’t sure if the light/setup/styling of my studio would photograph well, and how we’d fill the time. I shouldn’t have worried of course – you had it all taken care of with your equipment, experience and keen eye for framing and depth. And in the end, the time flew by!
Is it necessary to have professional photos to compliment branding / design?
Oh – 100%! Like with graphic design, there’s only so much you can grow with DIY materials. When you’re ready to kick things up a notch and play big, professional photography and branding are both absolutely vital.
As a designer, I feel I could “fake it” with average pics a while longer – as my folio of work helped communicate my expertise and – let’s be honest – my skills in Photoshop helped me fudge a few ok snaps! But having professional photography on hand now makes all the difference.
Favourite food: A big colourful mexi-bowl!
On my bookself: Fight Like A Girl, by Clementine Ford.
Hidden talent: Propagating devils ivy.
Dream holiday destination: Cuba.
My guilty pleasure: Alanis Morriset’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’, on vinyl.