Former Sydney resident Anja Emzén believes in “simple and clever design solutions based on research and crafted aesthetics”, So we decided to ask her more about her approach to all things design!
What is your name and where are you based?
Anja Emzén and I’m living and working out of Malmö, Sweden.
Were you formally trained in art/design/photography?
I have a bachelor in graphic design from the Graphic Arts Institute of Denmark, which is located in Copenhagen. As a photographer I’m self-taught, it’s always been a big passion of mine.
What is your favourite part of the design process?
The beginning and the end! I love the beginnings when it’s so open and you can just brainstorm ideas. But then I love to sit and fine-tune all the details in the end, and of course to see the finished result.
What does your process look like from idea to finished piece?
I usually make sketches of my ideas on the computer, creating a few different concepts that I can present to my client. It usually consists of suggestions for typography, colours, graphics and layout styles, but it’s also about storytelling and branding. When we’ve decided on which direction to go I start fine-tuning the basic design elements and concept, and then move on to more detailed design work.
How important is collaboration to your work?
Very important. I always try to have as much contact with my client as possible, to make sure I’m on the right track during the design process. And I love to collaborate with other creative people, that is so much fun! To get different perspectives and inputs is such a good way to create original and great design.
You spent a year working in Sydney; tell us about some of the projects you under took?
I was really lucky with getting some quite amazing jobs during my year in Sydney. I created the visual identity for Sydney Chamber Opera when they started up in 2010, which was such a great project to be a part of. They have done several shows since then, all with great reviews. I’m still their designer, even though I’m based in Sweden now. I also worked a lot with the talented actor Kipan Rothbury, creating a visual identity and promotional package for him, including taking his head shots. For the lovely jazz singer Alison Avron I designed a newly released EP and website. I also worked with several design studios, amongst others Alphabet Studio, where I did some design for Belvoir Theatre.
Having worked as a designer in Denmark, Australia and Sweden, has your location effected the way you work, in a positive or challenging way?
Yes definitely in a way. The different languages and cultural aspects make a difference, most of the time in a positive way since I love both languages and different cultures. But sometimes it’s challenging as well, to know the cultural codes and to create a network from scratch. But I really like challenges, it forces you to break out of your routine and really go for it.
What are the most challenging and most rewarding parts of your job?
The most challenging part is probably to work freelance, since it’s all depending on you. The most rewarding part is when I feel that I have created something that I’m really proud of, and when the client is happy of course. A great collaboration can be so rewarding as well!
What advice would you give a designer thinking about going out on their own as a freelancer?
Make sure to create a good network, since that is key to get work. Also consider how you like to work, since being freelance often can be a lot of work by yourself. It’s a lot of responsibility as well, but also great freedom.
What are your best methods for finding/attracting design clients?
To be out, everywhere, going to all kinds of events meeting people. And to spread the word amongst friends, family and in your network. To have your portfolio and profile online is also a really great way to be seen.
What are the tools you couldn’t live without?
The amazing tools in Lightroom which makes it so easy to edit photos in a flexible and easy way. And the different text tools in InDesign that allows you to be really nerdy when it comes to typography.
Where does your inspiration come from?
All kinds of places! I love old things, like old posters, photos, clothes and other beautiful objects. Meeting inspiring people with stories to tell is one of the greatest things I know. As is nature, always there, always changing. I also love photography, fashion, furniture design, architecture, art, film and music. And life!
What are you currently working on?
Lately I’ve been freelancing some as a photographer, and I’m right now about to start a collaboration with the University of Lund, which I’m very excited about.