Designer Modems, Say What?!

Internet: it’s something that plays a major role in our lives unlike ever before. Especially when you are a blogger, safe to say it’s the most important factor to me getting any type of work done. So what’s the most frustrating factor when it comes to running my site? Wi-Fi connectivity and internet speed issues! Our last home was an ex-state house and like all state houses of yesteryear they are built to last forever, which means they are pretty solid! So solid that in our one storeyed home my internet didn’t work down in my bedroom without putting a Wi-Fi repeater in the hallway. Not ideal, especially since the boys found great pleasure in removing and hiding the repeater from the hall. Our house was 120 square metres; it wasn’t large at all so this is really something I shouldn’t have been dealing with… but I had made the fatal mistake, just like most people out there do, and locked my modem away in a cupboard under our kitchen bench. It never ever crossed my mind that hiding it away would affect the coverage we got from the modem – stupid really. We also had fibre, so once it was in, it was in, no moving it about! With the recent move to our new place, I thought I should look at my options with a new provider. Safe to say that teaming up with a new internet provider has been a match made in heaven because when I heard Orcon was releasing a designer series, I knew they were the company I wanted to work with. Lucky for me it went both ways!

Now, a designer series?! How can internet be designer? Well, those ugly modem boxes we have been hiding away without realising we were screwing with our internet, well they should really be on a bench, not in a cupboard or somewhere tucked away, to reach their full connectivity potential. For someone to wants to put their modem on the bench, it needs to look good. That’s where Orcon’s Designer Series come in! Pretty genius really – not sure why someone didn’t think of this sooner!

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Orcon commissioned five artists, Askew One, Flox, Otis Frizzell, Anna Leyland and Andrew J. Steel to create a unique and original design, which was printed onto 500 limited edition modems, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on one from Anna Leyland. I actually love it and think it looks great sitting on our kitchen bench. I also had the chance to speak to Anna about her collaboration with Orcon, as I imagined it was one of the more interesting commissions in terms of the type of canvas she has worked on.

You worked as a graphic designer before you were a full-time artist, obviously technology has played a huge part in your working life so this project seems like a natural fit. What were your first thoughts when Orcon approached you for this collaboration?

In the last nine months I've been really privileged to have been offered different opportunities to apply my paintings/artwork to something other than your usual canvas. It seemed like a natural progression in how my work is not only growing, but it’s moving in a new and exciting direction.

 Initially I was just so grateful for the opportunity to be involved with Orcon Designer Series and also just really excited for the challenge! This is the first time placing my artwork on an object and the fact that it was relative to technology - which, as you can see, plays a massive role in my work - it was a natural fit!

Can you tell me a little bit about how your process works for creating your artwork?

When I start a new work, the first thing I do is actually visualise it in my head over a few days/weeks/sleepless nights, so when I'm ready to actually sit down and start planning it I already have a clear visualisation of what it will look like.

The process was no different for 'Perception'. However, the fact that it was being printed on a modem also changed the creative direction slightly as the perfectionist in me (as is quite obvious in my work!) and also from my graphic design perspective, it was so important that the design worked as well on the modem as it did on the canvas.

So this job actually challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone as my work is well-known for having a circular theme, and obviously this wasn't going to work sitting on a rectangular modem! When I finally sat down to start designing my painting on the computer, I hadasked to have a sample blank modem so I could photograph it and also design my mock-up on the modem itself at the same time.

I guess my process is quite possibly a bit different from other artists in the fact that I design my works on the computer first so that I can play with the patterns and try to achieve balance in my painting (and appease my perfectionism). Also, so I can work out the measurements to achieve (as close as I can!) an artwork that is balanced in pattern and colour.

What was the inspiration behind this piece?

All of my paintings tell a story and are either about an issue I want to make people aware of, or they reflect a certain time or stage in my life. When I was initially given this opportunity to work with Orcon, where I knew that my artwork would be going into New Zealand homes, I wanted to create a discussion of 'perception'.

 Perception is defined by "the ability to see, hear or become aware of something through the senses” or "the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted". Everyone has their own perception about people, culture, art and life. I choose to see the beauty in everything around me; in particular, the beautiful mix of cultures we have in Aotearoa and all the different life experiences, talent and inspiration that this brings to one's existence.

My blessings are never lost on me and I am grateful for all that I have; especially being able to create for a living! Perhaps this may invoke others to think about their own.

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Check out the designer series here.