Featured Designer

Verena Michelitsch

November 2018

We recently caught up with NYC based Austrian designer Verena Michelitsch! She tells us about her creative genes, namely her cool aunt and grandma, her new side project — a magazine dedicated to sleep — plus we discuss her pick-n-mix style collaborations with her favourite people.

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?

I always liked type and logos, in kindergarden I drew the logo of Austria’s TV station or my parent’s cars’ logos. I collected all sorts of small pretty candy packaging for the graphics (and gold foils!). I also loved to draw the characters of my favorite cartoons (Duck Tales, Flintstones). My grandma and aunt owned a photography business (a store and a studio), which showed me that creativity and art can be done as a job. Hung out there as a kid a lot, and worked there as a teenager every summer. As a kid I loved being in the darkroom, seeing the process of developing photos in liquids, making albums, the nice papers photos were mounted on. That’s where I later used photoshop the first time and started drawing characters pixel by pixel.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

For a second I studied Art History but realized after one semester that it’s too theoretical and dry for me, I wanted to create art and design by myself. I then found this program called Information Design in Graz, Austria. Which was basically communication design. So I went on to study Information Design and graduated after 4 years. I really loved it, it was a nice mix of hands-on typography, graphic- and exhibition design mixed with media theory and writing. While studying at 19 I had my first part-time job at an Ad Agency. First I was just updating email lists and driving things from A to B in the city, but later they would let me design and contribute ideas for campaigns. It was a great experience to get real work practice while studying. They even let me present my design direction to a big client at 21.

Who are your top five design crushes right now?

This magazine

This design studio in Vienna

The ‘neotenic collection’ by Jumbo NYC

This (type) designer Ondřej Báchor

This cleaning bottle set by Sophie Lou Jacobsen

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I learnt to take more time and be more careful when preparing files, and also to over communicate with the printer to make sure that we’re on the same page.

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Whats your take on internships? (do you take interns now?)

An internship brought me to NY! I think it’s a valuable experience for both, the employer and employee. I just had my first intern earlier this year, and since then I constantly have an intern working with me at the studio. Applications are very welcome, I’m currently looking for someone to help out with my side project Sand & Such.

What do you look for in a great client?

Collaboration, openness and reliance that the designer is the expert. I also feel it’s quite important to meet the client in person. I have worked remotely a lot, but especially branding projects are hard if you can’t meet up with the clients. Thankfully there’s facetime.

Who’s on the team, what are their roles and why do you love them?

I don’t have a legit team, but I do have people I like to collaborate with on a regular basis. This summer I hired my first intern, Arianna. It felt really nice to work with another person in the studio on a daily basis. I’m collaborating a lot with my friend Kristina who lives in Austria. We’re working on quite a few things together, currently a magazine design project. My sister Christina is a designer too and she helps me whenever I’m close to burning out, and my friend Alex is an amazing designer and sometimes works me. With Christina and Alex I have this side project Tutti Frutti. We’re taking pictures of fruit for fun.

What have been some of your biggest disasters and how have you learnt from it?

I’ve sent files to print completely wrong and they were printed wrong! This happened unfortunately 1-2 times in Austria. One time I was on press check (offset) for a 80 pages book but I had designed 78 pages, which doesn’t work in book binding because saddle stitch requires a number divisible by 4, so things had to be shifted around and I had to come up with an idea how to fill two pages. Also, the client was standing next to me and not amused. But it just worked out in the end. We did a lot of books and printed things at my old studio (En Garde). I learnt to take more time and be more careful when preparing files, and also to over communicate with the printer to make sure that we’re on the same page. Making physical mock ups helps too ;)

What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?

Take it easy. I think I stressed myself out during university.

What is the design landscape like on your city and where do you fit in?

NY is an amazing city to live / work in. As a designer you have access to everything you need, from printers, paper stores, materials, workspaces etc. And there are lots of small and big events, probably every week. I used to go to more graphic design related events when I first moved, to get to know people. Now I’ve gotten a bit lazier. But my co-working space has a lot of great design events so it makes it easy to go.

Website: verenamichelitsch.com

Instagram: @verenschka

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