Having our own agency is a dream. A dream that has come to life through extremely hard work, sleepless nights and minute attention to detail.

Initially we thought of starting a design agency in 2000. The idea was born from a passion for visual graphics and image making. However, one key ingredient was missing. So we shouldered our back packs and went off in search of international experience which would give us the insight and knowledge we needed to start our agency. When we arrived in the UK fortune smiled on us and we found work with top companies.

Colin worked for The Lancet publishing house, which allowed him to experience working in the design and production of a weekly publication. Meeting heavy print deadlines and having to manage his own work flow was the sort of behind the scenes stuff that helped him understand the fast and furious world of production. From there, Colin moved to Leeds where he managed a design team at Sinclair Mason, a firm who handle accounts like Ashworths UK, Callaway Golf, Oxford Hotels and Silent Night (the largest bed manufacturer in UK). He gained fantastic experience there, expanding on his knowledge of print media and management.

Raquel worked in positions that enhanced her website, online media and illustration skills. In Manchester she worked for Magnetic North, dealing with clients such as Kellogg’s UK, Capri son and Robert Horn Papers to name a few. The experience of working in an interactive agency like Magnetic North was amazingly inspiring, establishing a solid foundation in online media, illustration and interactives that has proved invaluable to CREATE DESIGN ™.

After spending quite some time in the United Kingdom, working for these well-recognised design agencies, we felt ready to bring our experience home and make our dream a reality, starting in 2003 with our first client, LifeLine / Childline Western Cape. The charity work we did for this organisation set the pace for what soon became a rollercoaster adventure ride as we were approached by more and more clients.

Since then CREATE DESIGN ™ has grown from strength to strength – changing, accommodating and evolving as we develop our focus, expand our client base and broaden and strengthen our skills.

Besides giving our clients the best service we can offer, we are also very conscious of the need to keep in touch with latest technologies and trends. Equally important is personal and intellectual stimulation and with these in mind we are both currently doing an honours degree through NMMU.

We see CREATE DESIGN ™ as being an ever-evolving company – one that is kept fresh and inspired by our personal interests, influences and growth.

And so the story continues to be told, and the dreams continue to manifest themselves into wonderful realities.



Colin Stephenson
(BTech Fine Art, NMMU, Photography)

After completing a Fine Art Degree at the NMMU and taking an additional year to complete a second Major in Photography, I worked for a highly-regarded Cape Town advertising photographer for a year. This was followed by a year in a top UK magazine publishing house, working in the design and production department. I then returned to Cape Town for a year’s post-graduate studies in Design and New Media, refining a technical skill set to complement my Fine Art and Photography training. After freelancing in Cape Town, I returned to the UK to run a small design team for an agency with years of heritage. This role, and the lessons learned within the agency from very experienced colleagues, set the stage for the leap into starting my own agency. So, on returning to South Africa with new ideas and a well-rounded skill set, CREATE DESIGN ™ was launched. The graphic design studio was established in George in the Garden Route and we service clients throughout South Africa.

From humble beginnings we have established a strong brand. We have great clients, many of whom have allowed us to push the boundaries and grow as a company and as individuals. Personal projects, setting goals, further studies, an honours degree in Photography … I like to keep the challenge fresh. I blur the lines between work and play, pleasure becomes productive and the creative flame keeps burning.

The cornerstone of our company is passion – for small details, for huge projects. No matter what we are involved in, we remain passionate about what we do, from the everyday running of the business and client service to the really fun part - the design and photography, creating a product from a blank sheet of paper.

For me CREATE DESIGN ™ is not a just a business. It is an extension of who I am.

Raquel de Castro Maia
BTech Fine Art, NMMU, Illustration & Photography

I am in awe of the wonders of the earth.

My work displays the infinite details and the vast expanses of nature; it explores my South African heritage; it reveals intimately personal moments in portraits and illustrations.

Infused with youthful enthusiasm and exuberance, my approach is tempered and balanced by 15 years of experience in the Fine Art disciplines of design, illustration and photography.

My love for Art and anything artistic stems from my childhood. I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be a ballerina. And I was fortunate. Born to a very artistic family, I have always been encouraged to explore my artistic inclinations. I am hugely grateful to my family and friends - they have always supported my wildest dreams, and I have been able to make most of them a reality.

After getting my HND in Fine Art at NMMU with majors in printmaking, illustration and photography, I expanded these skills by doing a diploma in computer graphics and online media at a college in Cape Town. From there my skills were further developed by working in Cape Town & in the UK. I have worked for leading design, photography and broadcast agencies, both nationally and internationally.

Since 1999, my work has been exhibited in major shows throughout South Africa and published in Camera Image, South Africa and Smooch Design Magazine, Australia.

Founding CREATE DESIGN ™ with Colin Stephenson is a wild dream come true. We setup the Photography and Graphic design studio in the Garden Route, Western Cape South Africa. I cannot detach myself from this amazing company and think of it as a business. It is simply not a business - it is a way of being. It embodies our striving for excellence, growth and experience. It is a living, growing, energetic entity - a metaphor for who we are and what we love.

It adorns our every day.