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Kelvin Gilbert and Amy Fowler

Creative Graduates

Selfie photographs of UCOL Creative Graduates Kelvin Gilbert and Amy Fowler

Since they were students at UCOL, Amy Fowler and Kelvin Gilbert had talked about setting up their own creative agency. Now with their business Origin Eight, they’ve produced work for the likes of Sport Manawatu, the Aids Foundation, and UCOL.

Photography graduate, Kelvin was drawn to study at UCOL by the emphasis on hands-on learning. Already a keen photographer, Kelvin says UCOL’s Photography diploma helped him further his skillset, build his confidence, and expand his creativity.

Kelvin has had great success in NZ Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP) competitions, and is the youngest person to attain the status of Grand Master of the NZIPP. This is the highest distinction for NZIPP members, which Kelvin achieved in the record time of four years. He has also achieved international success, being named Overseas Photographer of the Year at the 2017 Australian Professional Photography Awards

“UCOL gave me more confidence, and entering photography competitions pushed me to be more creative,” says Kelvin.   

Amy was weighing up her study options as she finished up at secondary school, but was convinced UCOL was the place for her after attending Open Day. 

“I spoke to Photography Lecturer Ian Rotherham. He was so excited, which got me excited, and he showed me around the building. The facilities were great and you could see there was passion. I was sold.” 

Amy went on to enrol in the Bachelor of Applied Visual Imaging* with a focus on photography. She was first person to win NZIPP Student of the Year two years in a row, and also took out first place in the Tertiary Photography category in the 2014 Canon Eyecon competition. 

After graduating Amy worked as a graphic designer and photographer for Destination Manawatu's The Page magazine, created cinema adverts, and worked as a freelance designer. 

When shop space became available in Palmerston North’s trendy George Street, the time seemed right for Kelvin and Amy to set up their own agency. Since 2017, Origin Eight has been providing photography, video production, graphic design, website design, motion graphics, and communications for clients around Palmerston North.

“I felt like I needed a push and this place has really pushed us,” says Kelvin.

They both enjoy the freedom of having their own business, choosing their projects, and watching the business grow. 

“We couldn’t imagine it any other way now. For me the best thing about owning and operating your own business is that you reap what you sow. You put in those hard yards, and when you get good customer feedback it’s a real feel good moment,” says Amy.

Origin Eight did the photography and created the videos for UCOL’s Make a Difference campaign, which tell the stories UCOL graduates using their skills to make a difference in the world. 
In the future Amy and Kelvin want to expand the services they offer, bring on new employees, and eventually set up offices in other parts of the country. 

* The Bachelor of Applied Visual Imaging has since been superseded by the Bachelor of Creative Media, in which students explore areas as such as 3D design, photography, illustration, video, and visual journalism.

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