New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - THIS WEEK IN... - Amy Preb­ble

De­sign Junkie host Shane’s strug­gle to suc­cess

Kiwi artist Shane Hansen some­times looks around and can’t quite be­lieve where he’s ended up. For the last few years, he’s been liv­ing the dream as a graphic, fash­ion and fur­ni­ture de­signer, as well as cre­at­ing dis­tinc­tive, colour­ful art­work – and now he can add the role of TV pre­sen­ter to his list of tal­ents as host of TVNZ 1 show De­sign Junkies.

But his ca­reer as a pro­fes­sional artist nearly didn’t hap­pen at all – and it took a break­down for him to re­alise his po­ten­tial.

“I look back at that time and think I wouldn’t be where I am to­day if that hadn’t hap­pened,” he tells the Weekly. “When I go and talk about my art, I al­ways tell my story and the amount of en­gage­ment it cre­ates with guys is re­ally great.”

Shane (45) started in de­sign early. His mum Puea and dad Pat en­cour­aged him and his three sib­lings to be cre­ative. Shane says his fa­ther is also a talented artist. “Ev­ery birth­day, he’d give us a card he’d painted. That would be the most ex­cit­ing part of birthdays – to see what you were go­ing to get. For my birth­day, I would al­ways get art sup­plies.”

When he was 19, af­ter com­plet­ing a course in pat­tern mak­ing, he started his own streetwear brand. At 21, he landed a job at surf la­bel Town and Coun­try, where he got to grips with how the fash­ion in­dus­try worked and learned how to put a range to­gether. Af­ter a brief stint in Auck­land, where he met his wife Kirsty, he took a role at Can­ter­bury In­ter­na­tional.

He and Kirsty (39), took the plunge and moved in to­gether for the first time in Christchurch, where she com­pleted her Masters in Psy­chol­ogy. The pair moved back to Auck­land af­ter a cou­ple of years, but it wasn’t un­til their son Nikau (10) was born that Shane de­cided to be­come an artist.

“I re­alised there were lots of things in my life I hadn’t dealt with and, at that par­tic­u­lar point, I had my own mar­ket­ing and de­sign busi­ness. It was re­ally stress­ful, I was work­ing way too much, car­ry­ing fi­nan­cial stress and I wasn’t able to be the fa­ther I wanted to be. That’s when I had a big crash – emo­tion­ally and men­tally health-wise. I just had to step back and get my­self well.”

He wound up his busi­ness and saw a psy­chol­o­gist, say­ing ex­er­cise, med­i­ca­tion and art helped him to re­gain his equi­lib­rium. “I needed to be an artist, ba­si­cally. That’s what I was work­ing to­wards my whole life. I found other places where I could be cre­ative, but it was still in a world that wasn’t re­ally me.”

He and Kirsty de­cided to work for them­selves so they could spend more time with their son – she runs a con­sul­tancy busi­ness and is cur­rently the North­land fa­cil­i­ta­tor for men­tal health ini­tia­tive Rakau Roroa.

For Shane, the tran­si­tion to full-time artist was much eas­ier than he ex­pected. “Within the first week of do­ing it, I had six or seven gallery spa­ces that were happy to take my work and sell it, then it started sell­ing as soon as it got in there. And then it was like, ‘Oh wow, this is awe­some!’”

They moved to Tu­tukaka be­fore the birth of sec­ond child Mikaia (7). “We were like, what are we hang­ing around in Auck­land for?”

Shane is very open about his strug­gle with de­pres­sion. He be­lieves it’s par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for men to find some­one they can share their vul­ner­a­bil­ity with. “I’m re­ally heart­ened by the likes of Sir John Kir­wan and other high­pro­file men who have come out and shown their vul­ner­a­ble side. I think younger males are now more open to that kind of thing. I know that my age group isn’t.

“No hu­man be­ing can go through life feel­ing okay all the time. It’s im­pos­si­ble. There are so many things in our lives that we have no con­trol over, so we’re bound to have dif­fi­cult times. It’s how we man­age those that’s the key.”

And now he’s the face of De­sign Junkies, a se­ries in which six lo­cal de­sign­ers com­pete to cre­ate works of art us­ing scraps and other sal­vaged ma­te­ri­als.

Shane ad­mits that he was ini­tially hes­i­tant about be­ing part of a re­al­ity TV show. “But once we started shoot­ing it,

I saw that the con­tes­tants know what they’re do­ing. They’re not putting peo­ple in there be­cause they’re go­ing to look silly ev­ery week.”

He also en­joys be­ing a men­tor to the con­tes­tants.

“There’s a ca­ma­raderie be­tween us. It’s been nice be­ing sur­rounded by sim­i­lar­minded peo­ple be­cause I tend to work in iso­la­tion. The chal­lenge has been to pull back from in­ject­ing too much of what

I think they should be do­ing!”

The talented artist also designs fur­ni­ture and cloth­ing.

Above: Shane in front of Home Sweet Home and Hihi (right), two of his well- known works. With wife Kirsty, who runs her own con­sul­tancy busi­ness.

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