Anita McArthur

When we started Seesaw, my creative partner and I had drive in spades. You might even call it moxie. Two kids who came from nothing and with not much to lose decided, over a pie and a beer at the pub, to start a business. We knew nothing more than we loved design – and we were shocked that people were paying us for doing what we loved. The cynic in me told me it couldn’t last.

But it did, and we rapidly grew. As time went on and the stress to pay bigger bills kicked in, we somehow lost that passion for design and started just taking on any job we could to get by. Apathy. Indifference. A lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern. It drained us, taking with it the clarity of what we stood for. 

Name a project, product or industry, and I guarantee we’ve created something for it. Branded g-strings for an event. Tick. Glittery Tinkerbell t-shirts for Kmart. Tick. Oh hell, once we even sourced 2000 plastic Viking helmets for an IT conference. Those early days were made of smoke, mirrors, sweat, tears and a lot of hustle. But why did we do it? We’d forgotten. There was no why.

As we got older and (questionably) wiser, we finally realised that our lack of focus was making us miserable. We lost what mattered most. The work simply rolled along and was dangerously close to being average as a result. At least by our standards. So we decided we no longer just wanted to roll with the punches. As my Mum has said to me a million times, you're here for a good time, not a long time.

Enter… quality. My mantra. Through running a business, going through a divorce and becoming a mother, I discovered what matters to me most. And it's pretty simple. Quality. Quality experiences, quality time, quality people and quality work. We get to do this once, so why settle for anything less. 

While personally quality may be my guide, professionally the studio has also defined itself by what is important. Craft. Intelligence. Goodness. Craft – choosing to create beautiful work driven by passion and a love for design. Intelligence – choosing to hire people of high EQ and IQ, working with clients who challenge and excite us, and creating solutions that have depth, thought and strategy. And finally, my absolute favourite – Goodness. We choose to work with good humans, crafting a good work culture and trying to take on work that does good. Work that serves, gives back and uses our skills for a greater good.

By defining these values, we achieved what we’ve been doing for our clients all along. We gave ourselves purpose. And yes, probably we should have thought about all this 12 years ago over that pie and beer.

Today our purpose is clearer. When the phone rings, we don’t say yes to everything. It may have taken a little longer, but we’ve traded apathy for quality. 

I’m still a cynic. But I care.

Anita McArthur

Anita is one of the two creative directors and partners behind Seesaw, an award-winning Melbourne-based branding and creative studio. She is equally passionate about the craft of design and the good it can do in the world.

She is actively involved in Australia’s creative and design industries, and has previously served as the vice president of the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) Victorian Council and as an awards judge



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