Kiarna Michie

Kiarna Michie

Master of Design student
Bachelor of Design in Communication Design

Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Whātua, Te Arawa

She has always been drawn to making and creating in one form or another, says Kiarna Michie who graduated with a Bachelor of Design in Communication Design in 2020 and is now enrolled in a Master of Design.

“In high school I enrolled in a photography and design course, and started to digitally collage images that I took with my camera. I knew that I was meant to do something creative in life, and that being paid for my passion would be a bonus.”

Coming to AUT to study design was easy, she says.

“The art and design programmes at AUT have a reputation for being the best in New Zealand, so there wasn’t a question of where I would study. I was impressed by AUT’s communication design programme as it matched the sort of skills I was looking to gain in the field of graphic design.

“I feel very privileged to be an AUT art and design student. The students and lecturers I’ve met are intellectually generous and highly creative people who challenge and inspire each other. I’ve been able to learn the best software and use technology that has enabled me to develop and refine my natural talent into professional skills.”

An inspiring journey
For Kiarna, the university journey started at the AUT South Campus in Manukau.

“Studying at the AUT South Campus was an awesome experience. I was part of a small but tight community of design students and lecturers who encouraged and motivated each other to embrace mistakes and take risks to grow as designers and as human beings.”

Her passion for design strengthened over the course of her studies, says Kiarna who was the student representative for communication design at the AUT South Campus, a peer mentor for art and design students, and one of the top students in her final year of the Bachelor of Design. Her hard work was recognised with an AUT Undergraduate Scholarship in 2020 and an AUT Postgraduate Scholarship for her Master of Design.

“The Bachelor of Design enabled me to explore a range of design mediums and technology that cultivated a broad set of design skills. Moving forward with the Master of Design, I’ve been able to specialise in a chosen area of communication design and contribute to the ongoing conversation of knowledge surrounding practice-led research.

“During my study I have developed a passion for collage, illustration, film-making and creative writing. I strive to create work that allows me to explore ideas in a figurative, poetic manner. I feel as though design enables me to give purpose to my creativity. To me, the most inspiring works are those from which the designer-maker takes on the challenge of investigating their inner world, drawing experience outside of the self to surface something authentic and unapologetically human.”

Using art to express anxiety
For her Master of Design research, Kiarna is exploring academic anxiety; a topic she knows all too well.

“As a student who experiences academic anxiety, there were times when I doubted my ability to achieve my best and fear would get in the way of creativity. For my master’s project I’m investigating how still and moving image techniques can be used to visually communicate and give voice to this personal experience with anxiety.

“My design practice involves the combination of poetry, photography and visual symbolism in the form of collage. Each signifies multiple facets and themes of anxiety. Through a process of animating these collages into a poetic sequence, there is potential to tell a story about anxiety that others can empathise and resonate with. After all, anxiety is a human emotion that we all encounter.”

Kiarna’s master’s degree research is supervised by Dr Marcos Mortensen Steagall and Fiona Grieve from AUT’s School of Art and Design.

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