10 AUNZ Creative Wunderkinds Who Caught Our Eye in 2022


10 January 2023
Delmar Terblanche

As holidays end and work ramps up again, it might be prudent to refresh one’s mind with the creative talent bubbling up on all sides of the industry. 2022 saw us interview and profile a whole host of brilliant creative folk from Australia and New Zealand, so we wanted to showcase those who caught our eye.

From artists to copywriters to directors; whether they come in pairs or as solo deals; here are 10 creative talents you need to know.

Uncle Friendly, Director, AIRBAG

Uncle Friendly is the moniker for director, writer and sometimes stuntman Rhett Wade-Ferrell. Rhett grew up  during the 80s, far from civilization, in a Tasmanian wilderness survival camp for kids. With a burning curiosity for the world outside the trenches of his father’s survivalist utopia, Rhett traded his Swiss Army knife for a VHS copy of Eraserhead and moved to the city. 

Rhett’s film education came from watching movies, making DIY music videos through his collective Moop Jaw and working as an extremely underqualified producer’s assistant for a Korean production company. After three years in New York shaking hands, making more music videos, and directing docustories around the world for IBM, Rhett returned to Australia to launch a commercial career under Uncle Friendly.

Psembi Kinstan, ECD, DDB Melbourne 

Psembi's career began in the city, working with the ABC. He joined last year after a seven-year stint in London where he was the youngest creative director in the histories of VMLY&R London and BBH London. At 24, Psembi created the M&S Christmas campaign, receiving over 100 million unpaid views. It also caused the first sales growth for M&S in six years. He also won a BAFTA. 

Owen Bryson and Anna Paine, Creative Directors, Dig Agency

The creative team of Anna Paine and Owen Bryson have been together for 10 years now. Having met at Media Design School in Auckland, the two made a name for themselves at DDB Sydney, where they spent seven years (in Anna’s words) “working our arses off”.

In that time, the team have been behind a set of hilarious and relatable campaigns for The Bottlo and Mitre 10, and the ingenious “a little space to think '' series for post its. They’re a force to be reckoned with.

Sophia Banks, Director, FINCH

Finch’s Sophia Banks is an award-winning director, who shot her debut feature, Black Site, an action thriller starring Jason Clarke, Michelle Monaghan and Jai Courtney in Australia’s Gold Coast, in February 2021. She established herself as a director with her 2017 short, Making it on Time for Christian Siriano. The film featured women in couture gowns skateboarding through Downtown Los Angeles’ industrial alleyways. Making it on Time received over fifteen awards, including Best Commercial from Oscar qualifying Hollywood Shorts Film Festival, Best Fashion Short at the Film Miami Fest, Best Microfilm at the Festigious International Film Fest as well as Best Commercial and Best Director at the United International Film Festival.

Banks has directed numerous award-winning commercials for brands such as Pepsi, Chobani, BMW, Target and Ford as well as fashion films for Pam & Gela, Ralph and Russo, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Annie Bing and Tome.

Katy Hulton, Copywriter; and Elly Pipiciello, Designer; Howatson + Company 

Katy and Elly partnered up just out of AWARD school (having both made it into the top ten students for NSW) and produced some stellar campaigns for The Works before moving to Howatson+Company. Among their output was a staggering piece for Marie Claire about sexual assault, produced in the wake of a series of sexual harassment scandals at Sydney private schools. They are affecting, serious, and noteworthy creatives.

Jay Lee, Senior Creative, Host/Havas Australia

Jay is a multi talented creative with a legacy of extraordinary work in Hong Kong, and seven years of industry experience. He has a passion for work that makes a meaningful difference to people’s lives. As he puts it, “I think at the end of the day, it has to be meaningful. It has to be interesting. People are seeing so many ads nowadays. Everything's getting pushed so hard. So unless you have that kind of meaningful cultural edge, it’s just not going to cut through.”

Anastasia Simone, Senior AD, Host/Havas Australia 

Anastasia has spent six years winning regional recognition for clients across APAC, including Cathay, WWF, Pernod Ricard, UberEATS, and more. Propelled by her strong background in digital activations (and lowkey obsession with Minecraft), Anastasia served on the D&AD Gaming jury in 2022, proudly representing Black female nerds and the glorious diversity of gamers. She was also selected along with five creative women, from across the world, to take part in Cannes See It Be It, a unique development experience to close the gender gap among creative industry leaders.

Jess Lawton, Director, Truce Films

Jess Lawton is an award-winning writer and director represented by Truce Films. She’s directed spots for Olay, Google, and Kmart as well as her own shorts and web series, which have screened at festivals including Locarno and TriBeca, and a forthcoming feature. Of her work, Jess says “ I’ve always been drawn to outsiders and the spirit of counterculture. Exploring youth culture is something that’s coming through strongly in my work lately [like in short doc, ZEF, which is currently being expanded into a feature] and I think that makes sense. Youth are the architects of the new counterculture; they pave the way for the dismantling of the status quo and speak out in demanding new narratives.”


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