Earlier this year Dutch Digital Design co-hosted this year’s first two online Master Talks, together with Master Digital Design (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences). Six of our partner agencies talked with both students and alumni about various subjects that matter to them. Greenberry, Grrr, Adventure Club, Clever°Franke, Vruchtvlees and MediaMonks spoke about what drives them as an agency, what their values are, as well as workflow and culture. Rather than letting our partner agencies do all the talking, we had a chat with two of the Master Digital Design students, Julia van Hulst and Jessica Livon. Talking about what inspired and surprised them during the Master Talks, and what matters to them.
About Julia and Jessica
Two ambitious ladies. Ambitious in their digital design. Ambitious in what they want out of (work)life. Inspiring and interesting to listen to what their takwaway is when given the opportunity to meet and talk with six leading Dutch digital design agencies.
Julia is 24 and Dutch. Studied New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), and at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, with a focus on game design. After her studies she worked at TBWA (Vidiboko) as a production assistant. But decided she’d like to focus less on producing and more on creating. That is exactly what she is doing now.
Jessica is almost 24. Half Italian. Half Russian. With a degree in Interior Architecture, and work experience with big design names like Marcel Wanders. Why the Master Digital Design? To broaden her horizon, and because the Netherlands offers something special in terms of multiculturalism. There's truly something for everyone - at work and socially. (Although she still can't get used to all the wind and rain).
First of all
Julia and Jessica really appreciated the webinar sessions, and enjoyed the presentations by all six agencies. They loved hearing about co-design and data visualisation. It pleasantly surprised them how much the agencies care about their people. And it inspired them that these agencies really are looking to contribute to a better world. Despite the fact that they are, after all, commercial/marketing companies. A valuable insight into the world of Dutch digital design agencies.
Shiny happy people
Julia, having previously worked in a more traditional advertising environment, noticed that all agencies spoke about working in a healthy way. Wasn’t working in this type of environment equal to working long hours to meet deadlines, and having healthy profits? She now feels that there might be a shift from healthy profits to healthy people at work. Because healthy, happy people create healthy, happy output.
Jessica adds to this that she’s also impressed by the fact that looking after your team, your employees goes further than just enabling them to create great work. For example, a lot of Greenberry’s work has societal impact. They work on projects that touch on difficult topics like seriously ill children and suicide amongst young people. This can also affect the people working on these projects. Greenberry makes sure to offer their teams support working on these type of projects.
Caring about their designers. This is something they both felt all speakers touched upon, and this really resonated with them.
The way they work
As mentioned earlier, both Julia and Jessica liked the fact that agencies are really focussing on co-design, on closely collaborating with the client, and even end-user. To get the best possible end product.
Jessica mentions that they learn about co-design in their studies, but she liked the fact that agencies are actually applying it ‘in real life’. Rather than acting like the sole experts in their field, and presenting ‘final’ ideas to their clients, they listen to and work with their clients, and come to great ideas together.
Both girls also picked up on Clever°Franke’s niche specialism of data visualisation. It is something they are both interested in. Julia is already using this in one of her own projects for the Dutch National Police. She also liked the fact that Gert Franke feels strongly about finding out what ‘your thing’ is. This ‘thing’ does not necessarily have anything to do with design. It is where your passion lies. And to then see how design can add value to this passion.
What Jessica loves about data visualisation, is the fact that it is design based on facts, on reality. What you see really means something. Julia adds that it creates visibility, and raises awareness about those things that matter to a brand, or a client.
Agency life/Designer culture
Both students loved that they were given a sneak preview of what working in a digital design agency might be like. Obviously, they both had pre-conceptions about agency life, as well as agencies’ reputations. They felt that they got a pretty good impression of what life would be like at any of these six agencies. All six with their own culture and way of working. In some respects similar (contributing to a better world), in others very different (types of clients/projects/size).
They both liked the tips Matías from MediaMonks shared with regards to setting time aside to look for things that inspire you. To create an actual folder on your desktop that you can constantly add things to. Not somewhere on a Cloud. That despite working for one of the larger agencies, it still serves you to be inspired by others. Julia also mentions that she liked the fact that Matías wasn’t scared to share a very personal experience that affected him when he first started working as a designer.
What will the future bring
It is clear that both women aspire to work in an environment that is more than just about profit-making. They would love to combine digital technology with contributing to a better world.
Julia has a special interest in the safety of the internet, and the sub-cultures that exist on the dark web. She would like to use design to create a safer, more secure online environment. To make the internet a more creative place again. Finding a happy, safe middle ground: somewhere between a fully monitored internet and an internet where people can hide completely, and freely abuse other internet-users.
Her favourite place to work? A place where she is allowed and able to contribute to a healthy, ethical working environment. And to be able to trust her gut feeling.
Jessica agrees with this. A match in values and beliefs with the people and the agency is more important than a long list of high profile clients. With a background in architecture and 3D design, she would love a chance to further explore the architecture of systems. How to best connect these systems with people.
Jessica’s dream job? At a small(er) agency that can fully focus on doing projects for Good. A place where they look for the right people, not just the right skills.
Listening to all Julia and Jessica had to say, and considering what matters to them, the digital design world is their oyster! As big steps are being made here to create digital products for Good.