“Freelancing is a little like dating again after a relationship. Sometimes you have a dry spell, and then suddenly everyone starts sliding into your DMs.”
Delia, Art Director, Amsterdam. Likes EDM, shag jackets and has an artistic niche in the design and music space. It’s a match.
9 years of experience with brands like Adidas, Heineken, Red Bull and Uber; working at top agencies including Clemenger Group and Oliver; and the guts of someone who set up remote-working shop across the other side of the globe. This girl speaks our creative empowerment language.
So we got the story. The how, when and why of one Aussie designer following the call of Dutch culture. And trying to avoid flying Christmas trees.
I’d lived in Sydney for eight years and was ready for a new adventure.
To give some context I was born in Zimbabwe and moved to Western Australia with my family when I was sixteen, so I never pictured Sydney as somewhere I’d spend the rest of my life, although I really enjoyed my time there. I wanted to move somewhere where I’d have good career opportunities without having to work sixty hour weeks and then spend hours commuting as you do in New York and London. I had a Dutch creative director at the time and I really looked up to his aesthetic and his approach to work, so I used to ask him a lot about Amsterdam and what it was like to work and live there. For such a small population (of less than a million people) they have world class design studios and agencies, so you have access to that while still living in a large village where all your friends live within a fifteen minute bike ride from you. The city also has such a rich cultural history in art, electronic music and photography which is a massive draw-card.
It’s very hard to keep your spirits up through winter without a sunny vacation.
Probably my lowest point was a few days after New Years during my first winter here, it was two degrees, rainy and miserable as hell and I was on my way home during a wind-storm when I was knocked off my bike by a flying Christmas tree! I dragged my sorry ass home to realise that my housemate at the time was away and our heating system was broken so needless to say I spent the night feeling very sorry for myself while trying to stay warm under three blankets and wondering what the hell I was doing in this country.
After a party when I’m biking home in the early hours of the morning..
… I have time to appreciate the canals and the beauty of the city while it’s quiet and peaceful. During these moments I reflect on how I had no plan when I moved here but everything somehow magically worked out and fell into place so that it really feels like home to me now.
I guess starting freelancing is a little bit like starting dating again after being in a relationship.
Sometimes you have a dry spell for a few weeks or a month and then suddenly everyone starts sliding into your DMs. So the beginning was a bit up and down, but at some point I had worked at a few different places that then had me in the books and would keep in touch when they were looking for someone. Then it becomes a matter of figuring out how to balance your time and workload so you don’t take on too much at once, and also knowing when to give yourself a break.
All in all I way prefer freelancing because you get to choose the projects you’re working on. You don’t have to work on brands you don’t like the aesthetics or ethics of. In an agency you might be forced to work on KFC when you’re a vegan (true story of a friend). Being on a day or project rate does mean you have to show up every day and give a hundred percent – but that’s OK when you’re passionate about it.
I’ve always been very into music and enjoyed curating playlists, especially recently in the more electronic and techno scene.
I’m also really fascinated in the link between music and art, because I guess what a music artist does is convey an emotion through sound and as a designer or artist you are trying to convey that same emotion visually. I have always looked up to Paula Scher for example, who has been able to do that so well across such a broad range of genres with her album covers. While living in Sydney I found working full time in advertising could be a bit unfulfilling so I started doing a few voluntary jobs in the music industry on the side. For example I helped a band to direct their music video and then when I moved here some friends had a party organisation that needed rebranding so I offered to do that for them. Then once I had a few jobs like that under my belt I could start building up my portfolio in that area and charging for it properly.