WORK IN PROGRESS
THE DESIGN JUNKIES HOST WAS CUT FROM CREATIVE CLOTH
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.