“When you graduate, there’s no guarantee that the perfect job is waiting for you. Maybe you have to deal with being unemployed for some period of time. I always tell my students to do some design projects that are driven and defined by themselves, find people or classmates to work with, and organize a group to meet with, discuss, advise, and help each other. If there is no assignment from a client coming to you, create your own assignment; there are so many problems to be solved.”
Rikke Hansen is a graphic designer and educator. For several years, she has worked with product development, branding, and consulting. Rikke works on and researches design development projects and has her design studio doing print and digital design. She also owns a letterpress workshop. Rikke is vice chairman of the Danish Book Craft Society, a board member of the Bienal del Cartel Bolivia (BICeBé), and an advisory board member for the Odisha Design Council (ODC). She is also a member of the China International Design Educator Association (C-IDEA) and the China Europe International Design and Culture Association (CEIDA). Rikke has been exhibiting and giving lectures and workshops internationally in Asia, the Middle East, and North and South America. See her work and find more information at www.wheelsandwaves.dk.
Here’s a snippet from Hansen’s interview:
What is your work philosophy?
Stay curious, and make time in your schedule to do it even though it doesn’t necessarily give you results straight away.
What is the greatest satisfaction you get from your work?
To do things I like to do in relation to teaching, especially when I teach young students around 15-16 years old. I love their energy, spontaneity, and immediate naivety, just jumping into the projects and not being afraid of doing crazy things. I learned a lot from them, too; they have a different way of looking at things and are driven by different things than my generation. Also, when working with design assignments to collaborate and work with different stakeholders, there are always things to learn from others. And, of course, to see your designs out in different parts of the world and hopefully having a positive impact.
What part of your work do you find most demanding?
Being an independent designer, you got to love working a lot, often having late work hours that can involve weekends too. If you don’t want to work a lot, don’t become an independent designer. For me, the demanding part of working a lot is the overtime needed to be structured in your work, meaning you need to find time to write invoices, applications, bookkeeping, taxes, etc. Friday is my day in the studio to do practical stuff and stay on top of those things. It is an important part of running a one-man studio.
What advice would you give to students starting out today?
It is hard to give one good piece of advice. As a student, you have to find out what works for you, what you like to do, and how to make a living from it. Figuring out what you like to do and what gets you out of the bed in the morning is especially important. Maybe the road to get there will be bumpy, and maybe you have to do different kinds of design jobs that aren’t exactly what you wanted to do in the beginning. When you graduate, there’s no guarantee that the perfect job is waiting for you. Maybe you have to deal with being unemployed for some period of time. I always tell my students to do some design projects that are driven and defined by themselves, find people or classmates to work with, and organize a group to meet with, discuss, advise, and help each other. If there is no assignment from a client coming to you, create your own assignment; there are so many problems to be solved. Not that you should work for free all the time, but maybe use your skills to help those who do not have the opportunity to hire a designer or to raise their voice. See it as an opportunity to do exactly what you want. Maybe it will turn out well, or maybe it will be the opposite. What’s important is to keep going, gain experience, network, and show the world what you can do. Some like to have a defined frame to work in, and others like to create their frame to work in. You can do both.
Read more of Rikke Hansen’s interview and discover other great artists and educators in Graphis Journal #375, which you can purchase online at graphis.com.