How I came to design

I had the pleasure of chatting with The Design Kids about how I came to design or how design found me. It was also an opportunity to give my younger self some advice and to reminisce about going to art school in post-wall East Berlin. 


When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?
My Mum is an art teacher and (gently) dragged us through museums on all our holidays. And my older brother went for a career in industrial design when I was 11 or so. You could say that design has always been around me, it felt like the obvious topic to pursue and I knew I wanted to go to an art school. It just seemed so much cooler than attending the regular universities. When I finally did, it was in Berlin, after The Wall had come down. The whole city was just one big experimental art project, giving you lots of opportunities to work creatively and express yourself. In a later photo exhibition for Beck’s beer called ’20 Years 20 hours’ I was even able to pick up on those days in Berlin in a commercial context.


What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
Look out for special opportunities – they don’t happen by accident.
Challenge yourself, even if you feel slightly uncomfortable – that’s when you learn the most.
Go the extra mile – creating something special is bloody hard.
Ask for feedback often and be prepared to explain your work.
Stay in touch and make many connections – they will help you later.

Beyond that, I always count myself lucky to be working in the creative field. You get paid to be curious and become familiar with all kinds of other industries and walks of life.


Whats the big goal in the next five years?
I hope that Reactive can continue to flourish, becoming one of the most progressive and influential teams in terms of digital design methods and practice, most innovative in terms of technology use and one of the best places for creatives to work for in Australia and New Zealand. Everything else like commercial success stems from that.


What’s your take on internships? And do you take interns now?
Doing junior design work during your studies is incredibly important. Whether it’s manning the phones, supporting a workshop or cutting presentation boards. It teaches you so much about what goes into a successful project. Having done an internship can mean the difference between struggling to understand what’s going on in an agency and being instantly employable. And we are indeed offering internships, so please send your portfolios and applications to


Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?
I studied Communication Design in Berlin and New Media Design in Helsinki. Both places happened to be thriving with people doing jobs on the side and pushing extra curricular projects. That’s how I first got into television, doing runner and post production jobs. Later I happened upon an exciting project for AOL, designing an internet café (hey, it was cool in those days). This basically marked the beginning of my digital career and got me my first agency gig as a junior creative.


Which three people in the design industry would you pick as mentors and why?
First one is Kevin Finn, because he is much wiser and nicer than me. Second one is Chris Doyle, because he is great designer and a lot funnier than me on stage. And lastly, anyone who could mentor me in creative writing. It is something I picked up relatively late in my career and I would love to improve. Maybe this article gets me in touch with the right person?


Twitter @reactive
Facebook /ReactiveGlobal

This interview originally appeared on TDK’s website.


One response to “How I came to design

  1. I can mentor you with your creative writing. See you in Jan.

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