Featured Designer & Art Director

Marina Veziko

July 2019

We spoke to Marina Veziko a freelance designer based in Helsinki. Marina talks us through how she quit her job and is currently in the honeymoon phase of her freelance career. She gives us her thoughts on designers and illustrators underpricing their work and how a financial course should be permanently added to design curriculums (YES!). Plus she tells of her brutal run-in with a palm reader and two really exciting passion projects she has in the works!

Did you have a plan for graduation and what actually happened?

It took me a couple of extra years to finish my bachelor’s degree – partly due to exchange studies and internships, but mostly due to motivational issues. I was really struggling with the “superficiality” of graphic design and often thought about quitting school and finding another career path which would allow me to contribute more to society.

After finally graduating I landed a job at a brand design agency. My initial plan was to stay there only for a little while and then maybe apply for a master’s degree in a slightly different field. Basically, I wanted to win more time and think about what I actually wanted to do. I ended up staying at that agency for more than three years – surprisingly I found myself really enjoying the work.

I guess working with real clients and helping them with real issues just felt a lot more fulfilling than designing beautiful typographic posters as we did at school. I also realised that branding doesn’t always have to be a synonym for greedy capitalism. I try to work with clients who I share the same ethical and ecological values. Nowadays I’m not that strict about everything having to be so "meaningful". Sometimes it’s nice to create something that is purely aesthetic or just for fun.

Talk us through what a typical working day includes for you right now.

Four months ago I quit my day job and started freelancing full-time. Previously I had hardly any free time due to day job + side hustle combination, so now I’m living the honeymoon phase of going freelance. Having all these extra hours in the day feels intoxicating!

I usually get the most work done early in the morning and very late in the evening. The first and last four hours of the day are the most productive. I’ve tried to combat this tendency but nowadays I’m learning to embrace it. During the day I often go walking in the nearby forest, do some reading, some grocery shopping and cook a nice meal. Maybe a little nap after food. I love how deserted the whole city is during the day when everyone else is at work.

We recently found a nice studio space with some friends and we’ll be moving in soon. I’m curious to see if having an actual office will make my schedule more disciplined.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Less constipation, more diarrhea” is a good mindset when it comes to producing ideas in the drafting phase. I tend to overthink a LOT and this mantra helps me loosen up a bit. Figuratively speaking.

Also: “People who are not that loveable actually need to love the most.” Cheesy but true. Whenever someone is being a real jerk I try to remember this and send loving thoughts. Definitely not easy and works only like 10% of the time.

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Less constipation, more diarrhea” is a good mindset when it comes to producing ideas in the drafting phase.

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What’s the quality of design education like locally?

At the moment the business side of things is practically non-existent in design education in Finland and it’s a difficult combination with our culture where talking about money makes people uncomfortable. The most informative and eye-opening lectures back in my school days were by visiting creatives who talked openly about their wages.

I see a lot of designers and illustrators seriously underpricing their work simply due to the fact that they don’t know how much is the minimum you should ask for. There’s an acute need for financial courses being permanently added to the curriculum. I could rant about this for days.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

We recently started planning a small publication series with my friend and colleague Tino Nyman. It will be about ethnic minorities in Finland and our aim is to make this somewhat serious and political subject approachable and fun.

There’s also another personal project which is a collaboration with photographer Tiina Eronen. We’re interested in how the evolution of science will change the perception of supernatural phenomena in the future and we’re trying to make a visual hypothesis of this in an abstract way through photography.

What’s on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

Professionally: I’m really lucky that so far clients have been approaching me and not the other way round (knocks on wood) but I do have a list of clients who I’d love work with and I’m planning to start contacting some of them later this year. At the moment I’m excited about working on a branding case for non-alcoholic beer, some organic cosmetics companies and a visual identity for a documentary, among other things. I would also love to try teaching in some form. Just putting that out there for the universe to hear.

I got a gift card from my friends to a palm reader (yup, don’t ask) and the reading was really brutal – the first thing she said after seeing my hands was that I don’t have it in me to be an entrepreneur. So let’s see how this will all work out!

Personally: I’m gravitating more and more towards hermit lifestyle and I’m hoping to move even further away from the city center. More nature, less people! I already live in an area where there’s a river, a forest, a field, an island and some horses and sheep within a few hundred meters from my house but somehow it could be even more secluded. Call me middle-aged but suburbs are the best!

Website: marinaveziko.com

Instagram: @veziko

Behance: @marinaveziko

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