On Axis, industry advice, and inspiring creativity with Maria Devereux

Colenso’s Maria Devereux is an ode to a creative career, being at the helm of many award winning ideas, and now being dubbed the Convenor for the 2020 Axis Awards. Here, we chat to Devereux on what she expects to see from entries following Lockdown, and her thoughts on New Zealand’s creative industry.

Covid has thrown a preverbal spanner into every plan this year, awards have been shifted online, and events have been outright cancelled. Yet the Axis Awards which fall start of next year are full steam ahead, and according to Devereux it will be the blow out we all need.

“I’m looking forward to celebrating the work after a really tough year. Axis will give everyone the chance to come together as a country and celebrate great work. Although everyone loves the Axis Awards, I think people are looking forward to it this year more than ever, as we all need something to celebrate.”

Devereux says Axis will come at a needed time, one in which creatives in the industry will acknowledge this year so they can forget it at last.

“I know we’ll see amazing work regardless of the fact that we’ve had a challenging year. Axis is a great opportunity for everyone to remember why we all do this, to make a difference, create great work and have fun.”

She expects to see a tightening of entires, as already in 2020 budgets have restricted and entering awards ain’t cheap.

“I think there’s potential for people to be more cautious about what they enter this year. Award budgets may have been reduced due to Covi-19 so if that’s the case, people will probably be careful and considered about what they enter.”

As its future convenor, Devereux’s advice is to focus on explaining the thinking behind your work in the simplest way possible.

“As a creative that’s a lot harder than you would think. When you’ve been immersed in a project it can be hard to suddenly gain enough perspective to step back and think ‘how do I tell this story in the simplest way possible?’

For Devereux, Colenso has been her hub for years, churning out creative ideas for clients and thriving off the inspiration that comes from working within a team. Yet for Devereux, she has the outlook that success needs to be celebrated industry wide, not just in-house.

“I think you have to celebrate great work regardless of who has done it. We’re a small industry – too small not to respect and support each other. Having worked in larger markets, I appreciate the comradery we have here. It’s ‘lil on NZ taking on the world.”

She has worked both internationally in Canada and in New Zealand, yet for Devereux she expresses her love for the creative hub of Aotearoa.

“I think Kiwi creatives are amazing – we punch well above our weight. Our smaller budgets make us more creative and more resourceful.”

“There is something very special about this market- it does feel easier to do great work. The timelines aren’t quite as long, and the projects are often more fun.”

Devereux takes her creativity and inspiration seriously, finding time to sing alongside her husband which keeps creative juices flowing and limiting stress.

“Creativity is fuels and drives me. And whether they’re musicians, writers, knitters or artists, I’m happiest when I’m surrounded by creative people and infectious creative energy. 

Her advice is simple;

“Relax and enjoy the ride, be kind to people along the way, It’s a small industry.”

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