BIMA/TRC Inspiring Digital Leaders (IDL) interview with Julia
It was a beautiful sunny day in Glasgow so Julia and I took the opportunity to have an alfresco coffee outside Front Page’s amazing offices in the beautiful Templeton building. We covered a wide range of topics from growing up, following dreams, the importance of art to top sights in Berlin. It became clear through the course of our conversation that accompanying Julia’s warm, friendly and gentle personality is a determined and independent human being. Moving from her beautiful home town of Dresden to study in Glasgow was just one example of many. When I quizzed Julia about where she sees herself next, she is open minded but seeks out places which offer inspiration and opportunity.
Julia describes herself as a creative person who loves making things and drawing which may not be surprising as the daughter of two Art Historians. That said she did go through a journey of rebelling against art before coming to embrace it (see also Eddie’s story).
The young Julia had other ideas flirting with the idea of being a spy and then an international ambassador until she decided pretty quickly she didn’t have the political stomach for it. What she did have a stomach for was striding out on her own and putting her all into making each undertaking a success. A particular example was at the age of 14 Julia took part in a three month exchange programme with Ireland, living with a family in the small town of Castleisland in County Kerry, a town apparently best known for the width of its high street (although we didn’t touch upon this). It struck me this was a young age to be away from home for such a long time. Julia simply shrugged. She wanted to improve her English Language so focused on persuading her parents to let her do it. I remarked that I could not hear an Irish lilt in her word perfect English accent, she remarked back that it was a while ago.
This led me to ask about her language skills. Fluent in German and English she also has basic French and Italian. Julia mentioned how often it comes up, living in the UK, that British friends compliment her on her English while berating their own lack of language skills. But Julia argues it is not a level playing field and growing up in Germany English was the “cool language” with so much popular culture being expressed through it. As such her exposure to English was far greater than any organic German we would be experiencing. I pondered on how long English would remain to be perceived as a “cool” language..
We moved back to the theme of art and creativity and Julia’s determination manifesting itself in her move to Glasgow to study – once again convincing her parents it was the right thing to do (see also Patrick’s story). Julia loves to create things. She is sure from her study and IDL experience she would love to work in digital design and Glasgow has been a brilliant landscape to explore her skills and opportunities.
Julia had studied film thinking it would be a career route but realised she didn’t love it as much as others and the commitment vs reward equation did not add up for her. However, once at Glasgow she joined Glasgow University Student TV (GUST) and became the animation producer (because no one else would do it). She enjoyed it and it emphasised for her, her love of graphic design, being creative, and making things.
Since IDL this love has spilled into development too. I asked if this was because she was product or results driven but her response was more nuanced. Julia draws but she never idly doodles, if she is creating anything she is doing it with direction and purpose, not to fill a space of time. So I argue, you are results driven. But she explains she is driven by problem solving, fulfilling a function and thinking of your end user, as such she enjoys the process and the end product but the thrill for Julia is when you can finally see, in your mind, what your original, perhaps broad or hazy, vision should become. I guess the light bulb moment / the clarity of vision before the finished product/service actually lands.
Returning to her routes I asked if she had a favourite artist or art movement. Julia said not and is rather more fascinated how art responds to history, citing 20th Century American art in the context of the AIDS epidemic. She embraces new ways of thinking about art, it can give you modes of thought – it may not be objectively good but works within a specific context.
We did eventually get around to talking about IDL and how the programme has impacted Julia. She signed up immediately because she could not find any design related graduate scheme so IDL was perfect for her, "it was like the programme had read her mind". She said it has opened her eyes to the many kinds of agencies out there and how different they can be both above and below the line. She also did not realise the integral role they play in the brand and corporate world, and hopes the IDL programme can help raise the profile of the agency world amongst graduates. Revelations for her have been how coding feeds her design and creative hunger and how writing good copy is essential to improve user experience and this triggers her interest.
We talk some more about her independence and drive (it has been noted by herself and those around her that she likes to self-teach) and what a strength this is that will carry her far. She also acknowledges it is a manifestation of her reluctance to fail or cause disappointment and she wants to work on this. Julia describes her skills on her portfolio as: graphic designer; animator; web designer; illustrator. It is clear from our coffee in the sun together she is all this and so much more. It is great to learn how IDL has helped developed new skills and interests, and hone existing ones. It is brilliant news for creative agencies that digital design is where she wants to make her home.
Below - "a poster I did for @_posterproject on instagram!" Julia
About Poster Project "We create posters every two weeks based on a randomly-selected word. Ongoing."
Find out more about the wonderful Julia: