Lotta Nieminen
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
Let’s just say Scandinavian modesty doesn’t go well with the job interview culture in New York. In my first couple of interviews when I was looking for jobs here, I managed to completely diss myself before the employer even had the chance to utter a word. I learned it’s important to be proud of your own work and be prepared to tell others why. Confidence and interest in your own field are crucial — you need to love your work for others to love it too.
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
Overlooking the power of well executed presentation, and not putting time and effort into figuring out the best way to document your projects. Being an asshole will also help in not landing a job — there’s a lot of talented people out there, and no one wants to work with arrogant, unpleasant people.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
What you have in your portfolio is what you’re going to get commissioned to do. A couple years back, I did this personal project of a cityscape and posted it on my website. Soon after, my first building related commission came in and that’s what the majority of my illustration clients now look for when commissioning me. Having a profession on “both sides” has taught me a lot about that too: working as a designer who commissions and as an illustrator who gets commissioned. When I’m art directing, the only thing I see is what’s in someone’s portfolio. It rarely crosses my mind that this person would want to do something else than what’s presented in his or her portfolio.
Putting work into your portfolio that you’re not proud of and wouldn’t want to do more of down the line is never a wise choice. If you don’t even like it, why would anyone else bother to be interested in it?
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
After I’ve gone through my inbox at the beginning of the day, I try to keep my email closed when I do actual work to concentrate better — although being an email addict, it takes a lot of willpower. I use Sparrow and adapted the Inbox Zero system a few years back after being tired of drowning in emails.
I have a very organized calendar that helps me comprehend how much work I have going at the moment and when I can potentially take on more projects. I try to focus on clearing enough time for each project to produce quality work — for me, juggling between too many projects usually means I won’t do any of them very well.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
Graphic Design: Now in Production.
Lotta answered the questions on June 29, 2014.
The answers were published on June 30, 2014.