Original Interview: October 2017

Johanna Burai

Johanna Burai is a young designer making waves in Stockholm! Getting creative in with sorts of  media Johanna is big on keeping the joy alive and she fills us in on why staying playful is important no matter what the brief is. Check out her other nuggets of wisdom.

Tell us a bit about yourself and the studio that you work for.
My name is Johanna Burai and I run my own design practice in Stockholm. I graduated in 2015 from Beckmans College of Design with a BA in Visual Communication and I just started my Masters in Visual Communication at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design. My practice is very varied and I create concepts through a wide range of disciplines such as graphic design, art direction, ceramics and illustration. Common to my work is that I often work with clients and collaborators across the fields of art, culture, music and fashion.

What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
1. Don’t compromise too much with your work. You must be happy with what you have done. When it comes to design you know best not the client.

2. Failure is opportunity and knowledge.

3. Saying no to work is as important as saying yes.

4. Never listen to people that say you have to “work hard”. It is a oppressive phrase used to reduce your achievement. No one gets to define hard work for anyone else. Just like success, you define hard work for yourself.

5. Don’t stress things. Have patience. If you just keep working towards your goals they will happen sooner or later.

What has been your highlights since you started out?
There have been many highlights, the first one must have been when I was accepted into Beckmans College of Design, that is where it all started. Another memorable part happened recently when I held a lecture in Media Activism at the University that I once was suspended from. That was a real “in your face” —highlight. But the biggest this year is probably that my World White Web project is going to be exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. That is a really big deal for me.

What advice would you give students starting out?
If you are studying graphic design it is probably because you love it and think it is fun.

That joy is very important not to forget when you start to work. Because it is very easy to get lost in the work as a designer—it could be too much work, or working with bad clients, or just working on projects that you don’t like. But if you use that joy as a compass through out your work and approach the process in a playful way then it doesn’t matter if the client is bad or the project is boring.

“if you use that joy as a compass through out your work and approach the process in a playful way then it doesn’t matter if the client is bad or the project is boring”

Who are your top five design crushes right now?
Isabel Seiffert

Ines Cox
Larissa Kasper
Aurelia Peter
Pauline Le Pape

What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why?
1. Ways of Seeing by John Berger is a very important book. Everybody (in the world) should read that. John Berger was an art critic, an author, a painter, a poet and a feminist. The book criticise traditional Western cultural aesthetics by raising questions about hidden ideologies in visual images.

Ways of Seeing is also made as a 4 part series on BBC, watch it here

2. Women of Graphic Design is a great initiative that is focused on exhibiting the contributions of women in graphic design and exploring issues of gender-equality in education provided by design institutions.

3. Worldwide-X is a progressive publishing & collaborative network by Michael Willis, supporting new art, music + fashion, worldwide.

Website: johannaburai.com
Instagram: @johannaburai