A former Whanganui man has been a key player in developing an educational board game named a category winner at the Designers Institute of New Zealand's best design awards in Auckland recently.

Gavin Mouldey was responsible for the illustrating the Game of Awesome, designed and produced by a team for the Ministry of Education and which won the Gold Pin and Purple Pin awards in the "public good" section.

Mr Mouldey currently operates a design and illustration studio in Raumati but learned his design craft at the now defunct UCOL graphics department.

"The game was the brain child of Chrome Toaster, a design company in Wellington, and commissioned by the Ministry Of Education. It's a card game for three to six players designed to engage and inspire kids to tell stories and improve creative writing," he told the Chronicle.


"It's for all pupils though the initial directive was to create something that inspires boys who are dropping behind significantly in writing skills.

"I was brought in at first to create illustrations to accompany the design, but that quickly expanded to drawing doodles on every card, box and surface, along with icons and instructional graphics. It required about 230 illustrations in a tight turnaround of about three weeks so it meant lots of all-nighters."

Mr Mouldey started out doing cartoons for the Chronicle called "From The Tin Shed" and illustrations for Tearaway youth newspaper while a student at Whanganui High School.

"I studied graphic design at Whanganui UCOL but stubbornly ignored my degree and just kept drawing. I lived in Canada, the UK and Australia while continuing to illustrate for NZ print clients like North & South."

But magazine and children's illustrations didn't always pay him well and the work was sparse, so he improvised.

"I've been a roadie for bands in the UK like Motorhead, a children's librarian, a logo designer, and a greeting card illustrator for a short-lived greetings company called Armageddon Greetings in the US.

"I also owned a gallery in Island Bay (Wellington) called Dittybox. For a few years that was kept afloat through the sale of illustrated tea-towels and mural commissions. Now I doodle from home by the beach in Raumati and seem to have enough regular clients to keep buying pencils and feeding my kids," he said.

Nowadays he has full-time work illustrating for a variety of clients.

"Gecko Press has just released the first NZ Children's Annual, which I contributed a couple of features to. A telly movie of the Australian cartoon series Dogstar is coming out this Christmas with my digital background paintings. And I've multiple children's books and journals on the go.

"But the job I'm currently most excited about is a line of beer bottles in Australia with my drawings all over them from Odyssey Craft Brewing Co," he said.

Mr Mouldey said the Game of Awesome success could be put down to a team effort.

"We all made suggestions of the game content but my role was focussed on the illustrations and coming up with gag drawings to accompany the playing card text."