Insight / Inspiration / Opinion

How being different can make you a better designer

Having a diverse team of people is extremely important in a design and branding agency, but why? How will that impact the business, the work we do and the relationships with clients? Well I know better than anyone. Exactly four years ago I packed my bags and left my Latvian hometown for this country. It has been a while and even though I fully merged myself into British life, I can still feel the influence from my Eastern European roots.

I was born in a post-soviet environment and that defined the way I see things, the way I think and perceive the world. There were certain rules of life that everyone had to follow in the USSR in order to live long and conflict-free. For instance, everyone had to be on the same level, none must stand out. Every form of art was regulated so If you were a creative person and you wanted people to see your art, you could only express yourself according to the rules, not the way you wanted. Although the regime only lasted for 70 years, it imprinted to generations ahead of it’s time, including me and my family. So here it is my first difference from everyone else: the way my mind works is that it has to follow the rules. The main thing I had to learn being a creative here in the UK is that I have to be open-minded and stop following a traditional approach to things. But at the same time it’s useful for me to have my own opinion based on my original values. That lets me look at every project we do from two different perspectives: the “British me” and the “the original me” and make my decision on what feels right.

 

Being raised in Latvia meant that I was connected with nature and wildlife very closely. The so called “Freedom to roam” was natural in my environment so I got my main inspiration and life energy from the wild nature such as forests, lakes, beaches and sea. When I was developing my first photography portfolio I was mainly working outside, tried going to the countryside and if I had to stay in town, it would be parks that I was exploring. Moving here meant losing a great part of accessing the wilderness so I had to adapt to it, learn to get inspiration from other sources. British weather meant I had to get my inspiration being indoors, open my mind to the experiments. This situation taught me flexibility in life in general and in my approach to work. I learnt that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can always find things that inspire you, things that move you forward.

When you are 19 and you spent your whole life in one place, it’s mentally challenging to leave everything behind and step into unknown. I had to learn to do everything myself, reach out to people, figure out how to do things in this new environment. That made me independent overnight, I had no one to rely on. This meant I had to be more organised and strict to myself in order to achieve something in the place where nobody knew me. As a result of this, I became more self-critical not only in general about myself, but about my work as well. There is always room for improvement and I shouldn’t settle for something average, it has to be nearly perfect. This approach naturally influences the projects I do, my creative process and brings out attention to details.

 

 

Above I mentioned only key differences of working with diversity of people from different countries. Here the main points are again: different perspective and opinion on life and certain aspects of life, flexibility of approach to work, a different creative process and general independence. This contributes to healthy work environment of any creative agency, bringing both diversity and fresh perspectives on projects.

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