Mika is a rare commodity – a truly original New Zealand Māori artist – an entertainer with three decades of eye-poppingly innovative work spanning stage, film, television, fashion and music - a modern Māori taonga. He has spent decades creating a persona and identity steeped in camp cabaret, sexual ambiguity, cultural shock and subversive artistic performance. And it was this very persona and identity that we were tasked with transforming.
The brief was to Create an identity that encompassed all aspects of Mika’s diverse nature, personality and culture – both gay and Māori. The aim wasn’t to throw away or ignore his flamboyant side – rather modernise it in an aesthetic that appealed to his fans, collaborators and clients alike.
Our solution involved the initial creation of the “M” symbol. Like Mika this symbol is unique and stands on its own as a simple, strong and mature identifier yet has the quirks and characteristics that make up Mika’s personality. It references traditional (perhaps even mainstream) Māori motifs (the koru) while modernising and incorporating ideas around the ure.
This gave us the foundation to build a typeface based on the same principles that would instruct and inform the new identity and direction. The typeface embraces a sense of cheekiness and fun but is also serious, modern and functional. Mika’s stationery and promotional material required the initial creation of photographic assets to compliment our ideas: to juxtapose varying imagery of Mika within his brand collateral to communicate and reinforce his multifaceted personality. The divide between person and performer was accentuated with a traditional Māori colour palette - half the stationery was black, half red. We then introduced Mika’s unique brand mark using an iridescent foil - carefully selected to echo the look of paua shell, traditionally used in Māori carving. The stock was selected to give a raw natural base to compliment the traditional cues of the graphics.