“That looks like a Tiki made out of love hearts! I love it!” - Sharon (customer)
Behind every brand is a story. My brand is my name and behind that, on all of my branding, is a tiki image made out of a repeating love heart motif. It's because I am doing what I love. Love is at the core of this little business - and so my branding has to be all heart.
My love heart tiki has become a kind of personal totem and it has its own special story that I am excited to share with you.
THE ORIGIN OF THE HEART TIKI
Once upon a time, I was teaching Art at a secondary school in Auckland and I was pregnant with my second child but nobody knew about it (yet). I was wearing oversized layers of clothes to hide my bump and I was teaching observational drawing skills using artefact photographs from Te Papa Museum. I was shuffling papers at my desk at the end of the lesson and one of the Tiki images just kind of stared at me. Actually, it didn't just stare at me - it spoke to me.
And I noticed that, if you look at it a little closely, some parts of a traditional 'Hei Tiki' are like a love heart. Look at the mouth and the shape of the eyes combined with the pointed chin... (I have a Masters in Art History and I can get pretty caught up in analysis of iconography!)
I started to transfer what I saw into repeating hearts to draw my own symbolic Tiki and my final image ended up being pregnant too.
Instinctively, I transformed my drawing into a screen print and added it to my maternity tee range. My 'heartstacked tiki tee' quickly became one of my most popular Outie maternity tee prints!
WHY USE HEARTS?
Obviously the heart is a symbol of love. Then stacking hearts on top of each other makes them support each other symbolically. Repeating an image also makes the meaning echo and resonate and I love how the hearts look like a totem stack.
Transforming a traditional New Zealand Maori Hei Tiki is also a nod to my love of place, my love of New Zealand and my love of being an artist in Aotearoa.
Doing what you love is so important in life. And I love drawing... because you don't get a second go, do you?
THE WEIGHT OF AN IMAGE
Before long I was wearing my own Tiki tee most of the time. With my growing belly and the Heart-tiki literally stretching and growing around me, the heart tiki became kind of a guardian angel for me. Subsequently I also released a limited edition range of gold and silver foil prints that I kind of saw as guardian angels to hang on the wall. They kind of glow in the dark with reflected light which I really love.
Sometimes images end up having a life of their own and before long the Heart Tiki started to overshadow my previous Outie logo. It stood for so much more because it could be read as a heart totem, a babywearing mother, a pregnant mother or a stack of two faces - parent and child all made of hearts. Then, when I decided to move away from making maternity and breastfeeding clothing (the Outie brand) to focus on textile design and art (the Katrina Ward brand - drawing every day!), the heart tiki just had to stay. Because it belongs with me and is an intrinsic part of my journey as an artist and as a mother.
THE CURRENT LOGO
Now, on my current logo, I have my heart tiki standing proudly behind my name. It is green as a reference to New Zealand Pounamu and it is on a sketched/patterned background to immerse it in the patterns and daily drawing habits that it has inspired me to pursue.
The heart tiki is my personal totem, my guardian and my love all at once.
So you see, that is why my logo (and brand) is all heart.