BLUNT x Forest and Bird | Limited Edition Collaboration

BLUNT Umbrellas
4 min readOct 16, 2022

Meet the talented Melissa Boardman.

An illustrator and artist with a passion for the native manu (birds) of New Zealand, Melissa has collaborated with BLUNT and Forest & Bird to create the stunning new umbrella design. Hand painted with aroha, the design features five of our native birds and is a beautiful representation of our native flora and fauna.

We caught up with Melissa to chat about the limited edition collaboration design and her creative process.

Melissa Boardman with the BLUNT x Forest and Bird Metro Umbrella.

What is the inspiration behind this design?

This design is inspired by our native manu (birds), specifically the five most recent Bird of the Year winners! I created original illustrations for the umbrella, focusing on each of the winners’ unique characteristics and brought them all together for one bold design that celebrates our native species.

I wanted to create a design chock full of manu and have different illustrations all around the umbrella, so every panel has a different scene. The overall vibe is a natural one, with a neutral colour palette to compliment the manu and make them the main focus.

To accompany the birds I painted some leaves that I saw on forest walks like kawakawa, kōwhai and pūriri, I nestled the foliage amongst the birds to enhance the natural feel of the design.

Melissa Boardman painting the yellow-eyed penguin for the BLUNT x Forest and Bird Metro umbrella.

How would you describe your style?

As a nature lover I’m drawn to all things natural, I’m all about natural materials and blending in with my surroundings. That filters through into my illustration style which I think of as authentic, true to the subject, while being modern and bold. I aim to illustrate birds in such a way that emphasises their most distinguishable features while showing a bit of their personalities.

What inspires you as an artist?

Our native birds inspire me endlessly, and in so many ways. We are lucky to have such a variety of incredible birds in Aotearoa. I absolutely love exploring sanctuaries, offshore islands and birding hot spots where I spend time watching birds, snapping photos and getting inspired. I’m lucky to have lots of native birds visit my garden daily, so I’m never far from inspiration. Volunteering in conservation has enhanced my love for birds, it has given me a much deeper understanding and appreciation of each individual bird’s life and that translates into my illustration too.

Melissa Boardman for the BLUNT x Forest and Bird Metro Umbrella.

What has been your favourite part about collaborating with BLUNT?

I’ve absolutely loved creating this design to celebrate Bird of the Year with BLUNT! Their umbrellas are the only ones tough enough to cope with life in windy Wellington, flimsy umbrellas just aren’t an opinion here. I really appreciate the fact that they’re made to last and look incredible too! BLUNT are amazing at highlighting the artists they collaborate with, I really appreciate that they showcase both the artist and the inspiration behind each of their umbrella designs.

BLUNT x Forest and Bird Metro Umbrella.

What is your favourite part of working with Forest & Bird?

I was quite honoured that Forest & Bird asked me to design the Bird of the Year umbrella canopy. Forest & Bird are an incredible advocate for nature and they do amazing work fighting to preserve and protect what I love about Aotearoa, our natural environment.

I’m so happy to have been given the opportunity to design this umbrella to celebrate Bird of the Year. Bird of the Year is such a great time for bird nerds around the country to flock together and support their favourite birds, it’s also an amazing way to introduce the public to birds that they may not know about. It brings awareness of the plights our native species are facing and at the same time gets the whole country buzzing about our amazing wildlife.

The BLUNT x Forest and Bird Limited Edition Metro is available to shop in NZ, AU and the UK.

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BLUNT Umbrellas

We take ordinary products and turn them into extraordinary experiences.