In this interview, we talk to creative mind Laura. Next to her studies in European Studies: Identity and Integration, she works at WUA first as Design Expert, now (after graduating from University) as a Digital researcher. She talks about her passion for design, and why she was given the nickname ‘Farfalla’ in Italy.
Welcome, Laura! Good to have you here. How did you end up at WUA, and what will you be doing here exactly?
I ended up here through our coworker Mitchel; he’s the ex-roommate of my best friend. I was looking for a job that I could do while writing my thesis, where I could use my talents and things that I like. Mitchel put me in touch with Henk, and it turned out that it was possible to work at WUA two days a week. In the end, my job became that of Design Expert. My role at WUA is basically to improve the design of all documents and templates in such a way that researchers have higher quality documents to present to clients.
Do you have an educational background in design?
No, I’m doing a Master’s program in European Studies: Identity and Integration. I just really love to draw. At a certain point, I started to teach myself some things about it as well – for instance, I learned how to use Photoshop and InDesign, useful skills that I did end up using in my previous internships at AimAtArt and at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Rome. People say I have visual insight, and aside from that, I like doing this type of thing. So learning how to design is something I developed myself, next to my studies.
Would you want to continue in that discipline?
Yes, definitely, but I’d also love to do more with writing. Not necessarily in marketing, but I’d like writing about research. Or doing workshops, and presentations for clients; I’m not shy so I could do that. But we’ll see where things go. For now, I’m working at WUA two days a week, and in December, after I submit my thesis, we’re going to see whether there is an option for me to stay here. For now, that means not doing anything with my studies, but jobs in that direction are a lot less corporate, and that’s exactly what I do love about organizations like WUA. And the decision-making process is a lot faster, too!
You’ve been here since September. What do you like most about working at WUA?
I love that WUA has such speed. It greatly motivates me, and it keeps you working with an innovative mindset. And WUA’s structure is flat, non-hierarchical. New people are greatly appreciated precisely because of their fresh new outlook on things. Feedback is given on both sides, and even when you’re new, your opinion is greatly appreciated. And I love that, that you can talk about that with each other. That people are open to other opinions, even if the other may have been here for a long time. All in all, a wonderful way of working together.
What did you do before WUA?
I worked at Tuschinski for a long time. I did the tours there, and improved them as well. After that, I did a six-month internship at AimAtArt. That’s an organization that provides training to other companies, using art as a basis. For instance, people are invited to come to a museum and talk about the different artworks: what do you see, and how does your partner view the work? A lot of fun, and very creative; I expanded on my knowledge there and taught myself some more design skills. After that I did an internship at the embassy in Rome, and aside from that, I’ve always done a lot of volunteer work for the Red Cross. As a buddy in the buddy project ‘Together for Amsterdam’, for people who are lonely. The idea is that once every two weeks, you do some type of activity with these people. And I did a board year at AIESEC, a non-profit organization. The organization is run by students. They link students to companies and volunteer projects organized by AIESEC all over the world, and then the students can work there. The goal is to bring cultures closer together.
What’s your motto?
Enjoy the little things. A little basic, but my friends have noticed it too. In Italy, friends even came up with a nickname for me, ‘farfalla’ (butterfly). Because I’m like a butterfly, fluttering about, distracted by every little thing that I notice. When I’m walking on the streets and talking to someone, and see a pretty poster or other perspective, my attention is drawn to it immediately. I also try to really be mindful of happy moments and really enjoy them. So all these little things, overall, ensure my happiness.
Are you like your friends in that way?
Not necessarily I think, perhaps my friends don’t reflect on it as much. But my friends and I do have in common that we can say anything to each other, and we’re always there for each other. My friends and I have known each other for ages, since elementary school, so we’re very connected to each other. In general, we’ve got the same standards and values, we like doing fun things together, and we just talk a lot. You want to know what’s happening in someone’s life.
WUA’s motto for its staff is Living Dreams. What dreams do you have?
So many! Little things and big things, both standard and out of the ordinary. For instance, I’d love to see more of the world, and as for activities, I’d love to go diving. But I’d also love to cross Route 66 in North America by motorbike. And I’d love to find a great job where I feel I’m in the right place (getting there), and a home. I have a lot of art, and I’d love to be able to give it all a place in my own home.
What do you excel in?
Anything visual. I get enthusiastic when I think about visual things, and people usually like my remarks and adjustments. So yeah, I excel in that.
How enterprising are you? Do you have a website or Instagram account we’re unaware of? Or secret plans to start a new fun company?
Yes, I do have an Instagram account, aside from my own personal account. It’s a work in progress and it’s called Art By LNF. I share my drawings and photos there. And I’m making my own comic, with a boy as the main character. It’s kind of a dark and twisted fairytale, titled ‘The world of Elderra’. I draw the lines by pencil, and then I color everything in using Photoshop. It’s still a challenge to draw the main character, a boy.
What’s on your nightstand?
Comic books! I mostly love out of the ordinary comics, with crazy, unique drawing styles. Like Moebius, who makes amazing things that give me a lot of inspiration. I recently read a funny comic about a fox and a wolf, who are treated as human beings. The way it’s drawn is truly amazing. And a comic titled ‘Beeldschoon’ (Gorgeous). It’s about an ugly girl who always smells like fish. After a granted wish, she’s seen as the most beautiful girl in the world. However, in the end, it’s not that easy, being seen as beautiful all the time. Once again philosophical and ingenious. The way it’s drawn gives me a lot of inspiration, and it makes me very happy.