Design Assembly talks to Paul Petch, photographer, designer and founder of Good People Run, ahead of their inaugural exhibition this coming weekend.
Hi Paul, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I’ve always been creative as long as I can remember with some my fondest memories as a kid surrounded by ‘art and making stuff’. I never connected with design in a typical way though, having no real support growing up in an English working class environment where art was a hobby — not a career.
After half finished art school studies, and a wasted youth (fun though!) I settled on studying Biochemistry with Medicine at University. It was really hard, but I fell in love with the visual aspects deeply and the symmetry of order in nature. It was actually more of a highlight for me than the science.
After a few years working in research post uni, I decided to set out in 2003 as a freelance graphic and web designer instead. I finally connected that being a creative was the way forward for me and set out to teach myself, and set up freelance as a designer.
In 2009 I decided that I needed another change of career as I had been sat at a desk as a designer for to many years and it was killing me, both physically and mentally. I’d always been in love with the great outdoors and, putting 2 + 2 together, I made the decision to become an outdoor sports shooter. I had high hopes for my path into this profession, and looking back, some serious naivety too. Saying that, a few years later in 2011, I shot my first paid commercial job with Salomon Running at Mount Taranaki and I was hooked. It was at this time I also started to run more myself, and head out on personal adventures to master my outdoor photography as a craft.
Looking back, science gave me so many visual skills and reasoning, while graphic design polished my eye for composition, engagement, appreciating minimalism, and of course colour. Then photography put all of these together. The business skills side came really late though… but that’s another story!
What inspired you or set the wheels in motion for you to make “giving back” a priority?
I’ve always been involved with helping others (read more about this over at the interview), but becoming a father four years ago was a real moment of change for me. I started to see my world in a different way, and what I valued pre ‘Dad’ evolved into much more.
From a business point of view I also started to question ‘why’ was I working so hard, and for what reason. Of course there is the financial aspect, but I wanted more purpose in what I did. I remember back to when I started out as a designer and wanted to change the world… then the reality of earning a living takes over. If all I wanted to do was earn money, then working for someone else could do that — so I focussed on using my skills in a more positive way — and bringing others together to do the same.
By simplifying my ‘wants’ as a creative and a father, I freed up time and energy to create, connect people with the same views, share the positives of being active and running culture, and help others in the process. – Paul Petch.
View full interview at http://www.designassembly.org.nz/
Header artwork by Patrick Jude M Ilagan.