July 14, 2014
After having given up on London and returning home to New Zealand, photographer and art director Adrienne Pitts was ready to start fresh in Auckland. But the offer of work tempted her, and brought her back to the creative hub. “What I love most about this city is its creativity and energy. If I’m feeling uninspired my rule is just to go outside. And usually within minutes I’m inspired again”
I’ve been living in London for 7 years now. It always surprises me to say it! I wasn’t planning on being here so long, but the city seems to have lured me in…
Ahhh, it’s quite a long story! The very short version is that I have always been a traveler. When I was 17 I finished high school in New Zealand and then went to live in Chile for a year. When I went back for my 10 year reunion in Chile I fell in love, and moved back there to live with my new boyfriend. The relationship didn’t work out, but I wasn’t quite ready to go home yet – so I came to London instead!
In terms of expectations, I expected the weather to be awful (correct, unfortunately). I also expected it to be much easier to find work than I did. It took me around 4 months of really pounding the pavement to get design work, which was frustrating, as I’d already worked my way up to quite a senior level back home in NZ.
I’d been to London before, when I was 16, so my first impressions were formed well before I actually moved here. But I guess another overall first impression was that it was just a really huge place. It took me a long time to learn that I should really plan that it will take me an hour to get anywhere (something I still forget from time to time!)
I’ll be honest. It took me a really long time to feel at home here. I’ve always said this city can lift you up, and it can tear you down. It really just depends what day it is. My first few years here, whilst lots of fun, culminated in quite an awful mugging & beating. I left and went back to New Zealand as my visa had almost expired, and I was not sure if I would bother renewing it. As luck would have it, I got a job offer back in London which I accepted. I picked myself up, got a new visa, and have now fallen for London. I’m glad that terrible experience wasn’t the one I will forever associate with London.
What I love most about this city is its creativity and energy. If I’m feeling uninspired my rule is just to go outside. And usually within minutes I’m inspired again. I love the multicultural nature of this city. I love that I can now get a really good cup of coffee. And I love that I can adventure all around Europe – something which, as a New Zealander from the other side of the world, I had always wanted to do.
I’ve got loads of favourite places in London, most involve nature and/or good food. My favourite place to take people is Ozone Coffee in Shoreditch. I’ve been going there since they opened a few years ago (a bonus of living down the road from it for quite a while!), and always find the New Zealand accents and lamingtons on sale really comforting. I take all my friends & family there, took my boyfriend there on our first date a year and a half ago, and basically try to show people how Kiwis really do the best cafes
It’s not really been a deliberate path, just one that has presented itself naturally based on the two things I love most! I did a Bachelor of Design degree back home in New Zealand, majoring in photography. In those 4 years I of course focused mainly on photography, but I also made sure all of my electives were to do with graphic design. I’ve always loved them both, and I thought it would be a way for me to make sure I had a good grounding in both! As it turns out, I’ve worked in both capacities all around the world for the past 15 years. I’ve been Art Director of magazines both in NZ and here in London, and have also been a professional freelance photographer working on assignments around the world. I’ve been really lucky to have two things that I really love doing, and have been able to work with people who support and encourage those passions.
I think London is a challenge for me, and I mean that in a really good way. I think it pushes me to always try and be better. To be more creative, to see what else I can do, where else I can go… I don’t feel there are any limitations on me, and I know I want to be the absolute best I can be.
It can be isolating at times, for sure. The benefit of a 9-5 job is that you are surrounded by people who you can talk to and bounce ideas off. By contrast the freelance life can be a really fine balance of trying to have enough time to work, but also making sure you are getting out and about and interacting with people enough to remain inspired and focused. I always try and make time to hang out with the people I care about, and am very lucky to have friends who are into many of the same things. So a sunny day will mean taking our cameras and having an adventure together – I think being a creative means never switching it off, and making sure you are always doing what you love doing. Luckily I have a lot of people in my life who share those passions, so we support and encourage each other constantly.