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Robin Rawstorne: Advice to my 22-Year-Old-Self

WOW 2016
League of Legends Opening Ceremony Seoul 2018
Jaguar Alive_China
Robin Rawstorne
2011 Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony
Finding his niche was definitely what Robin set out to do when he moved his family to Aotearoa. These are his rules of thumb for creating a creative design powerhouse.


At the twilight of the 20th century aged 22, I was a stage designer living in London, working in the studios of the leading opera and theatre designers of the time. I was  passionate and believed in the power of live storytelling to affect change.

I was working in a 19th century medium as I stumbled into the 21st century looking for new horizons. 
I felt the pressure to specialise during a time when who inspired me the most were those individuals who had made themselves into polymaths. Looking back, I can attribute these experiences to the formation of the work I do now, which is the fusion of a multi-disciplinary design approach, passion, technology and innovation.  

It was this goal that helped lead me to NZ (along with a young family) and the formation of Rawstorne studio in 2009. We spent 6 months living in Raglan and felt inspired that here at last was a country where polymaths were celebrated. Being here re-ignited our sense of inspiration and excitement as if the land itself vibrated with adventure and potential.

This was quickly confirmed – when within months of settling in Auckland I met an Air NZ pilot who was also a commercial building developer. By the end of my first conversation with him he had asked me to design 3 buildings in Te Kuiti.

We were able to draw upon our storytelling background and jobs came in that focused our attention on advertising, theatre, architecture, and events.

It was the role as Head of Design for the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony in 2011 that catapulted us to venture into the Asian market, including a Tiki tour through Asia. Here we developed strong ties with Shanghai based agencies and I worked as a CD for insane-scale live events, the accelerated speed and project scale shaped my commercial prowess and realization how to sell a story.

If you choose this life pathway as a creative, there are many routes. The one I have found most rewarding is the creative partnership. The experience of dancing through this crazy ride with Sarah, my wife and our studio’s creative producer, has been transformational. Our combined abilities have enabled us to take on projects of many shapes and sizes from a range of disciplines and clients, locally and internationally.  

Realise that there are two types of projects, one where you use your creative skills to tell another personʼs story, and one where you tell the stories you want to tell. Understanding the difference between these two sure saves a lot of angst and stress.

Find someone sooner rather than later who can hustle for you - one that is prepared to cold call and persuade you to travel to far flung lands to follow through on a hunch.  

Retain a nimble business model that constantly evolves, and learn new shit all the time!

Be generous with your ideas and creativity

Use multiple avenues to build your brand.

Know that age is irrelevant. Only the intention of the souls you find yourself amongst count.

Up-skill constantly. Most of creative value these days is measured in output, therefore ensure you hone your learning and upskill with the right tools available.

Stay freelance.

Take up Ashtanga yoga to help calm your active mind.

Keep sketching!

And, never forget: Revel in the extraordinary adventure that is life. Life is Risk.

Rawstorne Studio currently collaborate with US based RIOT Games – working as CD for their League of Legends world championship live stadium opening ceremonies. They are an ongoing collaborator with NZ’s most successful gaming company Grinding Gear Games.
2019 will see the opening of the Massey Westgate Library - Rawstorne Studio were commissioned as the ‘Lead Artist’ for this project. We look forward to the unveiling of their child centric designed environment! They are also continuing to develop, alongside a core dynamic creative team, a large scale international touring theatrical experience based on the myths and legends of Aotearoa.
For more of their projects (we couldn’t fit them all into this story), take a look at their website.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

29 Nov 2018

The Big Idea Editor