#44: Sarah Maxey

Design/Illustration Inspiration, 2003-Present

If you live in New Zealand and love books there is a pretty good chance that Sarah Maxey is already your favourite designer and you don't even know it. Go on, pull your most beautiful books down off the shelf and I bet she'll be in the credits there.

In 2003 in a fit of 'I should get around that whole 'career' thing' I enrolled in a diploma in publishing through Whitireia. I didn't last the whole year - I soon worked out that there was no more money in publishing books than there was in the comics and music I was already doing - but the best thing about the course was meeting Sarah Maxey. She came in and gave a few basic classes in book design and for my internship I managed to get a spot helping a small publicist who shared an office with her. I was just licking envelopes and cutting out press clippings but it was cool to get a little sense of how she worked.

I was pretty awestruck by her. Still am actually. She is a killer graphic designer with an amazing eye for shapes and colour and compostition but unlike most really pure 'graphic design' designers she does everything in this warm, hand-made, tactile way. Her stuff is always simple but complex and she is a master of hand drawn type. The best. Look up at my little rip-off in the banner header, you'll see she was and is a huge inspiration to me.

#43: Jamie Norris

Classmate, West End Primary School, Palmerston North, 1986

I didn't have a lot of friends at West End but moving on again was still tough. So it stung when I told them all I was leaving and Jamie Norris said 'good' and everyone laughed.

But he was right, it was good that I left Palmerston North.

#42: Dom Hoey

Pedal Faster Drummer, Should-be comic writer, 1999

When you draw comics you get a lot of suggestions. Perfectly well-meaning people don't get that you're busy, or their idea sucks, or that you actually enjoy coming up with your own ideas, thanks. Everybody busts out the odd 'Hey I had this idea for a comic' and that's all fine but there are some people who just won't leave it alone. Every time you see them they're already at 'hey you should draw..' before you've even said hi.

Dom was one of those guys, but in a good way. I met him when he was drumming for the Wellington hardcore band Pedal Faster, before he moved back into auckland and became MC Tourettes. We met a few times at parties or after shows, and it wasn't long before he became a top-of-the-line comics-suggestion guy. Dom was one dude who I loved to hear ramble. His ideas were either downright amazing or at the least entertaining, and there was plenty of them. I really wish I could remember them better, we were usually both drunk.

I remember one great story about a gang of kids with different pieces of fruit for heads. It was sharp, funny and well told. Could've been a classic by now.

#41: 'Uncle' Angelo

Second-hand car renter, Melbourne, 2004-2007

In 2004 Batrider had a problem. We were playing a lot of gigs, which meant a lot of transporting gear, but we had no wheels. Across town, second-hand car dealer Angelo had a different problem. By night his car yard was locked up and all those cars were just sitting there not making him any money.

We got to know Angelo well. We'd rent whatever rust bucket old van or station wagon he had in the yard (for a while it was a red Postman Pat postal van), sometimes just overnight, sometimes for a a weekend. He never saw our licences, we never signed anything, we just flicked him some cash and he flicked us the keys. If we bought the cars back after the yard was closed we'd park them in the street and throw the keys back over the fence. We slowly became friends - He lent us nicer cars when our parents came to stay so we could look flash and he once even picked us up from the airport after we'd been away on tour.

#40: Carrie Newbury

My first girlfriend, Campbell Primary School, 1991

It was true romance. Two of Carrie's mates crossed the playground one lunchtime and told me and my mates that Carrie wanted to know if I would be her boyfriend. I talked it over with the boys but there wasn't much to think about - Carrie was one of the prettiest and most popular girls in the school - so at the end of lunch I sent two of the guys back over to say yes.

We didn't really speak to each other much but everyone knew for the rest of that year that we were a couple. I drew a little 'TM 4 CN' on the bus shelter where she sat everyday after school, and at the end of the year when I had to move back to New Zealand I bought her a bone carving shaped like a dolphin. I felt pretty smooth for a 10 year old.

#39: Chris Wilson

Wellington College and Victoria University classmate, 1994-2002

You're in a department store at easter. You see a giant plastic chicken. You put a dollar coin in the slot, the chicken clucks and an easter egg comes out the slot. That's a machine right? No, it's my friend Chris Wilson. Well, for one easter at least.

He got the job through student job search and spent a week hunched over inside the chicken in the dark losing his mind. He had to stay in a constant of readiness - his only cue was the faint sound of a coin dropping into the box. If and when he heard a coin he'd press play on a ghettoblaster playing a cassette of chicken noises, let it run a few clucks, press pause and push an easter egg down the tube between his feet. He told me he was in constant state of stress too - he was always paranoid that the tape would be at the end and the chicken would would stop mid cluck. So I guess he was taking care in his work.

I'd love to know how this has affected Chris in the long term. Do you think he has nightmares about chicken noises in the dark?

#38: Joe

Flatmate, Fairlie Tce, 2001

Joe was the third member of me and Rob Whitaker's much loved Fairlie Terrace flat in 2001. Nice guy, mostly kept to himself.

Rob and I were big coffee drinkers (still are) but Joe never touched the stuff. Still - whenever one of us put on a pot Joe would insist that we always asked him if he wanted a cup so he didn't feel left out. "No thanks, he'd say, "maybe one day."

#37: Cam

Bakery Guy, 2006

I can't remember how I met Cam. He was one of those friend-of-a-friend types you'd give a nod or maybe an eyebrow raise to when you pass on the street. Friends enough to acknowledge each other but not friends enough to stop and actually talk.

Until he started working at the fancy bakery down the road from my house in Melbourne. All of a sudden we were chatting over the counter like the best of mates and he'd be shoving a extra couple of chocolate croissants and a blueberry muffin into the bag with my loaf of bread. If I remembered to go in there in the late afternoon he'd really go to town, topping up my bag with all the things they'd be throwing out at the end of the day. Thanks Cam.

#36: Nelleke

Co-worker, Freedom Furniture Thorndon, 1999

Nelleke was the first Dutch person I ever met. Her famly was in Holland so she acted like a mother to all us poor students that worked at the furniture store part time - asking about our exams, making us cakes on our birthdays.

(She once brought in a photo of herself as a teenager, in a bikini on a beautiful beach in Europe somewhere: smoking hot.)

These days I live in Holland and I think of her often. I see Nellekes at the supermarket, in the park, at the traffic lights. Even Queen Bea is Nelleke to me.