We already met several students and today, we would like to introduce Anna Nurmela and her final project.
What did you study and why did you choose campus Berlin?
I studied communication design and before applying to campus Berlin, I was living in Finland. I told myself that someday I wanted to live abroad and since I already knew Berlin, I started to search graphic design schools there that teach in English. I was also interested in illustration but since the programme at UE was in German, I couldn't apply for that one. However, I heard I could take illustration classes together with communication design which sounded perfect for me, so I gave it a try.
What is the topic of your bachelor thesis and how did you come up with the topic?
The topic of my bachelor thesis is philosophy of boredom and how to accept the meaninglessness of our modern life. For personal experiences and pure interests, I had been fascinated by philosophy, boredom and nothingness. I understood they were linked together and I wanted to find a way to explain the connection. Slowly, I started reading texts of different philosophers and I found one from Schopenhauer which made me understand my thoughts were universal: “For if life [...] possessed in itself a positive value and real content, then there would be no such thing as boredom: mere existence would fulfil and satisfy us.” This worked as an inspiration for the whole concept and explained what I was realizing. At the same time, I had been taking snapshots with my phone, which I had combined with simple captions. They started to sound very existential since they were based on my everyday thoughts. Starting from 2017 to 2019, I had more than 700 lines of text that I wanted to put in one book. This book ended up being more than 500 pages together with illustrations. In order to create an atmosphere of existential boredom, I added a sound element to it as well, where my friend is reading the pages out loud.
Which materials and media did you use to implement your thesis?
For most of the illustrations, I used water-soluble graphite pencils and for some, I used ink on a rice paper. I wanted to use a technique that I could not control much, so that the ink would spread freely and create unplanned forms. This way, I was also able allow mistakes to be part of the final result and trust my instinct. I recorded the sounds with a portable sound recorder and edited them with Adobe Audition.
What challenges did you face with your bachelor thesis? How did you solve them and what advice would you give to the next bachelor students?
The biggest challenge was probably to choose how to execute the final project. I felt that I had a good background idea with the written part, but struggled to find an interesting solution for the practical project. I felt that I had too many ideas and that I wasn't sure which ones I should follow. That's why I was happy get the support from my advisors, who pushed me into the right direction when I was wandering too far away from the original idea of existential boredom. After I had decided that the project would be a book, I had to choose how to print it in a way that fit my budget. When I thought that I was ready and going to the printer, I was told that the book is not going to work well with that many pages and that I couldn’t have a folded cover. I was ready to give up on these special wishes and do as they suggested. Luckily, I found another printer that was ready to print the book as I hoped, and I was more than happy with the end result. So, I'd advise to do a lot of research of the printers and ask them questions. Don't abandon your creative printing ideas after the first struggles because there might be someone else who's ready to implement them. This applies to your personal ideas as well: here's always someone who will get them. Also be open to feedback and self-reflection.
Do you already have an idea of what to do after your degree? What are your plans for the future?
I want to continue working on my own projects without making any specific plans. Illustrations will be a part of them but I'm also interested in sounds and atmospheres. I want to see where they could lead me and if I can combine them. I hope to find a job as a graphic designer since I still feel there's a lot of things that I want to learn and get better. In the future, I might apply for a master’s degree in some art field but that's something that I will think about later.