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Why I am where I am now

Creative Diary

July 8, 2020

Why I am where I am now

I think my journey to become a graphic designer started when I was a kid. I loved all sorts of crafts: drawing, painting, making jewellery with beads etc. The unfortunate thing is that I had let go of that when I got into my teenage years. Other things seemed more important at the time.

When it was time to start studying after high school, I was quite lost in all the options. My mom saw my strengths and suggested I go to a school and learn to become a graphic designer. I did not know what is was exactly, but I loved the fact that it was highly creative. Something that made me extremely excited.

After my intake I felt worried because my portfolio was not something special. But surprisingly they accepted me! I still think it was the painting I made during art class in high school.

Excited and not sure what to expect I started my 4-year studies in Amsterdam. Those 4 years I really enjoyed. I had great classmates and amazing teachers. It was also hard and stressful at times. As a graphic designer you need to use all your creativity, but also work with deadlines. We had to present our work at the end of each project to the teachers and the other students. You should be able to take criticism a hard lesson to learn, but especially important.

For me, the most difficult part was to see everyone else’s beautiful concepts and work. It made me always feel that my work was not good enough. I was scared to show my ideas to teachers. Afraid of bad feedback. Now I realize that was wrong because they are there to guide you and try help make your work better. To be a good designer you must be able to explain your work and take feedback as a learning point. My insecurity took over and it was so difficult to overcome that. But still I loved the creativity I could use in my craftmanship.

I completed the 4 years and learned so much. I decided to continue with another study in Tilburg ‘International Lifestyle Studies’. For me that was very theoretical, and I could not use my creativity in the way I wanted to.

In 2014 I had a choice to apply for a job at a company or to start my own business. I decided to start one for myself because I wanted to be free in the projects I was taking on.

My first client was Anja she was running a language school teaching Dutch and was now starting a new concept under the name ‘InDutch’. She was looking for a graphic designer. With my huge portfolio case (almost bigger than me) I went to her office in Amsterdam. Nervous but proud I showed my work and she loved the transparent style I was using. She became my client and I have learned so much working with her. How to interact, how to visualize the ideas she has in mind and start working with print companies etc. After 6 years we are still working together. I am very grateful that she allowed me to carry on learning.

I have learned that clients hire you because you can create the style they are looking for. You cannot work for everyone because it’s important to stay close to the style that suit you as a designer.

In these last 6 years running my business, I now know how to put them into practice. I made lots and lots of mistakes, but it only made me stronger as a graphic designer and entrepreneur.

4 years ago I decided to move to south Africa. It helped me create a bigger canvas and be independent. I have learned to think out of the box and that almost anything you would like to create is possible.

After these years I am much more confident showing my work to clients, but there is still so much more to improve, which makes it a constant learning process and it will never get boring.

I love the work I do, and I am sure I was born to do this. I am so happy I never gave up doing what I love.

In the end I just want to create beautiful things to make this world we live in a better place.

I could never have done all of this without the endless support of my amazing family and friends. To them I say thank you with all my heart!

Until next time,

Vanja

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