Regina Mayr studied Illustration at campus Hamburg. We met her for an interview:
I came to Hamburg from Ireland with my husband in February 2015 after leaving my job there and a place I called home for almost seven years with many international friends, and I had the feeling that with the move, a fresh environment, and the savings, it might be the right time for me to pursue my passion in art. There are many places in Hamburg in this discipline. I’m one of those people whose parents meant well and advised me to get a ‘proper’ job. I could draw in my free time. However we weren’t aware at the beginning how little time was left for leisure and personal development after work, sleep, friends, eating, etc. And that realization hits you at some point, if your job is no longer fulfilling, if you just sit and do nothing in the evening and weekends, and you brood over the changes in your life. In any case and having arrived here in Hamburg, I saw many offers and the University of Applied Sciences Europe was among them.
There was an information evening that I attended. Ilona Klück was still the course leader then and had time to answer my questions about my doubt whether I would have sufficient time for studying. I stood there and didn’t know whether I really, really should dare to do it. But if not now, then when? The university came across as pleasantly relaxed and I liked that. I found reassuring that there were going to be small course groups, because that way there would be a few more minutes to put questions to the course leader. Also the location spoke for itself. At other colleges and universities I was worried that I would not be able to hold my nerves until the beginning of the course because I would have looked for a job until then. Leaving the comfort zone of security and salary yet again, who knows if I would have managed it. UE courses start in April and that was extremely convenient for me. While I was unpacking the boxes, my portfolio grew with pieces. The application and portfolio interviews followed in quick succession. I and my portfolio convinced the interviewers and I was asked whether I could start studying in a few weeks. Wow, I made it, and did they really want an old hand like me? They saw something in my portfolio and me that they liked? “I’m here for that!” was the gist of my answer. And then the adventure started on April 1.
The bachelor’s of course! It was an absolute emergency situation but at the same time exactly what I had applied, practiced, and learned for the whole time. Only more intensive and more focused. My learning group contributed a lot, as we developed together as a group, helped each other, laughed and cheered up each other, and above all pushed ourselves forward all the time. The environment at the university offered the right amount of freedom but also consultations with the supervisors when questions arose. Even those professors and instructors who were not directly involved with our bachelor’s projects offered to help us. With hindsight, the semester was over too quickly. It was a great experience and a wonderful, summery graduation!
There are two keywords in that that get to the heart of things and which I want to express in my art. I simply like to tell stories through the medium of pictures, that causes people to reflect, brings joy, fascinates, and inspires. Many techniques that I’ve learned here such as monotype, collage, and mixed media were trailblazing and gave me the right tools to work with. Courses gave me the opportunity to work on a topic intensively such as in comics and editorial illustration, animation, and texts and they helped me to work through a task from A to Z. Only when you come to the end do you know your own problem areas, the big challenges and pitfalls that you would and could avoid in your bachelor’s work. In any case I have noticed during my studies what my strengths and weaknesses were and how I could make progresses in them to achieve a good result.
Telling stories is something we do since our childhood. I have always liked listening to people, absorbed stories, and kept my eyes open for small things. My goal has been and is to transform them through art.
The final project for the course in comics gave me headaches. In previous courses I mostly worked with digital. It was faster for me as I had all the familiar tools. But I needed something haptic which the story demanded from me and needed to be effective. My digital knowledge was not sufficient for me or my story. I sat for a long time and sketched, developed ideas, and worked from one page to another. I had a writer’s block – the worry that I cannot work as well in analog as I do in digital – which had be overcome first. You can get rid of everything, start again, work at different levels, exchange textures, and, and, and … Working in analog, you cannot drip tea, allow the cat to walk over it (though both could well be funny), fold the paper, where there must be a line and if not it must still look good. In the end you must be happy with the page or start afresh again. And then I took the analog pen in my hand. The piece became an important guide for my bachelor’s piece and one of my favorite works that I’ve created during my studies. I had only to dare and trust myself, then it worked.
Occupational therapy was then a compromise for me between art and “training for a job that people always need and find useful”. My husband however found a job in Ireland after his studies. I had problems with having my vocational college qualification recognized there, as occupational therapy requires a degree. However there were many offers for German/English speakers that sounded good. We had initially the idea to stay there for a year and then see. One year then turned into almost seven, almost overnight. At the company I worked, I came into contact with a few awesome and friendly artists. As shy as I was, I had to ask people to give their opinion on my work. They found my pieces – and truthfully so – really great, as was my whole environment there. Incredible. I was often asked whether I wanted to take up art seriously. Little strokes fell great oaks and so the determination grew on me to do more in this area, encouraged by the artists’ feedback. So I started to save money. Coincidentally my husband received an offer from Hamburg and the big questions were whether we wanted to go on this adventure, what would I then want to do, and whether we could manage it all. The answers to these questions were all (cautiously) positive to a certain extent, that we decided to leave Ireland and start a new life in Hamburg.
Life inspires me, things that I have lived through myself or heard from others, things that touch me and I can connect emotionally. If something resonates with me, then that automatically transforms into pictures, as my fingers twitch and itch and look for pen and paper. However it can sometimes take a long time before I can really complete a story. There wasn’t much time during studying and working part-time. Now after graduation, it’s going to change for sure. But my head and sketchbooks are full of ideas.
In most cases they are images whirling in my head that need to be sketched out to be a story. I like to test different versions, and feel which compositions work best. Then it’s time to work on it or go back to sketching for more and then again for further ideas. In most cases a finished section generates ideas for the next sketches or the subsequent sketches are so much better that the previous work has to be discarded and remade. This happens because you notice in the process that it develops and makes you develop. You must allow and want that to happen. For this reason, I don’t start on page one, but in the middle, so that I can evolve in all directions, and in the literal sense of the expression!
I like to work with textures alot, and I collect them, both in digital and analog. I also like to check out prints, use my roller on surfaces, make rubbings, come across “accidents” that are actually great as you have discovered something awesome that can be used. And I like to work digitally, with collages of course, so that I can use my textures but also analogwith scissors and glue stick, with black crayons and chalk. Rich colors with sharp and soft transitions.
As for motives it is often calm images that do not scream at people but instead invite them to engage with the piece, take in the fine details, and find stories for themselves, if that’s what they want. It is with calm pictures that the more I express, the more able I am to express. That is my particular way, from the beginning to the finished picture.
The first thing is to join my husband, who is waiting for me in London. My dream is to find new stories there, but also have the time to finally develop, let out, and put my own stories into paper. At the same time, I would like to get commissions through a loose artists’ collective that has formed at this college and share stories with others who are on the same wavelength as I am. Through such I would like to feel the joy and sense of fulfillment that everyone has after finding their place in life. The artists and illustrator Oliver Jeffers for example has inspired me a lot and gave me the courage that such is possible.
So, if I could travel back in time and stand in front of my younger self, then I would give encouragement and a kick. I’d give encouragement to follow my heart because it knows what it wants. I’d give a kick to get me out of my comfort zone and work hard. My tip is to listen to your deep self. Three and half years may sound long, but it goes far quicker than you think. Whether you can come up with commitment and feel deeply in your absolute desire to be make it artistically, this is only a question of your willingness to work hard. Hard work is an important virtue. It doesn’t mean anything, if you have great ideas but cannot successfully bring them to fruition.
You should make use of every opportunity at the university for things that inspire and interest you, but also be open to discover new things, and think outside the box.
Dear future students, immerse yourself in a creative environment! If something fascinated you but not fulfilled you, then research further, ask instructors and professors for tips on feedback. Let everything be and allow it to grow on you. Try things in university courses and at home that interest you. You are not likely to have so much time again as you do when studying. And that could mean that feedback from the view of someone else might be right but that isn’t really you, then you keep on going on your path until the end and then you look back and see whether that was right. It’s not going to do you any good to veer off from who you are. Being reflective and open-minded in your work is not just important for artists. But always be aware that the university is only the basis, a platform for you, a field where you can sow and must look after. You are not complete but only starting, then it’s going to get really exciting.
Everything. Will. Work. Out.
We met Mascha Camino, Game Design, for an interview:
I chose the University of Applied Sciences Europe – formerly called btk – because I really liked the fact that there is a BA program in Game Design with a focus on the indie sector.
I was really happy to have the opportunity to look at smaller companies and come into contact with developers. Above all, because I was playing a lot of “Limbo” and “The Binding of Isaac” while I was applying, I was totally excited about developing games with a small developer team. To be honest, it was important for me to do a Bachelor’s degree. I was very intimidated by HTW Berlin and had heard that the foundation courses are very expensive and it doesn’t have a Bachelor’s program.
As I’m in my fourth semester, I have not done an internship yet, but am currently in the middle of the application phase.
We in the Game Design program have set up a very cool event called “Devolution” where we highlight the “development evolution” of a specific game. The whole project began before I started at the university, but I was and still am excited to see it grow and succeed. In addition, we have secured a place at the A.MAZE Festival this year for the second time and that was really something special.
We have great instructors in our program. We have people from the industry and from many different sectors and that proves to me that you don’t have know from the beginning what you’re going to do after the first semester, but above all to endeavor to do what’s important to you. I’m doing that now. I’m learning coding, game design, art and event management, and I’ve collected a wide range of experiences. I also get inspired by people from totally different disciplines.
In my second semester we made our first digital game and I was responsible for the story and a few assets. We soon realized that there was too much to do in coding and for that reason I decided to learn programming and I’m thrilled with the decision. My programming instructor would for sure say that I have only scratched the surface of possibilities. But while working, the thought that with this knowledge I could make a better game helped me a lot, and it turned out that way in the end.
During my studies I have visited a number of events for the games industry and every time I noticed that the percentage of men on the stage and in the audience was very high. So I asked myself why that’s the case. To find out more, I asked a few women in the industry, above all those close to my field. Everyone agreed that it is rather uncomfortable for women to go to an event, because they feel as if they are on display. I know that feeling only too well. It’s awful, even though there should be no grounds for feeling that way. After all the focus of an event should be on the topic. So we came up with an “Event Design” course with Lorenzo Pilia, in which we wanted to create a space where everyone feels comfortable and can talk to each other without any hidden agenda.
There are so many talented and unique people in our industry and we want to give them a voice and platform so that they are heard. Sometimes we discuss issues that would perhaps be out of place at a very formal conference where everyone wears a suit. However, our industry comprises not just perfect machines but people who have doubts about their work from time to time, like any other. It would be great if society could be open to this diversity so that everyone can be themselves and happy about it without hurting others.
My week is normally quite busy, and weekends too. It is important for me to say that you have to make time for your own projects when you want to pursue important things. It’s not as if everything happens on its own. I try to maintain a well-balanced lifestyle. During summer semester 2018, I had no classes two days a week. On these days I exercised, spent a whole day on the project I was working on and the other day mainly on an event or my work. I spend most of my time in front of a computer – I know it’s bad for my eyes – and work with Unity, Maya, Photoshop, or simple Excel sheets. I enjoy Sundays to the full by simply taking it easy. I have to keep telling myself that it’s totally OK to get tired from time to time or to sit on the couch with a book, comic, or game and simply switch off.
In 10 years I would really like to be somewhere in the world working on a game I’m proud of at a studio with a great team. I think every game designer wants that. The best for me would be to develop for consoles or PC and not just for app stores. It would be amazing to work on a project similar to Firewatch, What Remains of Edith Finch, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, or The Long Dark.
In addition, it would be fantastic if Femisphere continues to exist until then and could further establishes itself.
Do not let yourself be discouraged when you have no previous knowledge or you feel lost. That’s normal and you will find great classmates who will help you and whom you will help. I also find it important to keep in mind that even if one course doesn’t really appeal to you, there are always five more courses that are all super cool. So don’t waste your energy on being annoyed at a stupid course, but get pumped for the seminars that are fun! Even though it is sometimes good to be annoyed for a short time. I find that you also need to make good use of project weeks! That’s because it’s a cool opportunity to have a look into other programs for a week.
Chaotic, exciting, diverse
Visit Mascha Camino on her Instagram account.
Lennart Menkhaus, Illustration, created the merchendise of the Deichbrand Festival this year. We met him for an interview:
The reason was quite simple. Hamburg University of Applied Sciences was not accepting new students starting in the summer semester. In hindsight I was lucky I enrolled for Art & Design at the University of Applied Sciences Europe (then btk). There is always something going on at Campus Hamburg, for instance semesters abroad, internships, and clubs.
Of course the internship semester! I think no university in the world can give its students as good of a start into a career as starting a career can. Even though an internship with a festival organizer is not the first thing you’d associate with someone studying Illustration.
It’s important for me to contemplate everything I do from various perspectives: not to be too easily satisfied and to try more, find alternatives, get inspired, be intellectually engaged, and learn how to self-reflect. And of course to always try new things, maybe even things that seemed impossible.
What helped me the most was the continuous inspiring input. One is shown many possibilities in the courses, techniques and materials are made available to you, and they help you to realize opportunities that you would never have come across on your own. For me that really is a great support to leave the well-trodden path and explore your own work.
It was always important for me to do something I liked. Music sprang immediately to mind. As I was also interested in merchandising, it was really an obvious choice. So I tried to find connections between my skills and the industry and then just went ahead with my application.
There isn’t too much to talk about. In the week I attend meetings with the art director where everything is discussed. We exchange ideas in these meetings and go through step-by-step what needs to be done.
The main area that overlapped with illustration was of course stage design. After that came the merchandising as well as site fencing and other structures that needed to be illustrated. First we worked on the most important elements, then we made progress step-by-step, week after week. I mainly made sketches at home and did not need to sit in the agency office.
That is not easy to answer at all, since it’s always dependent on the situation for me. The ideas of an illustrator are always based ultimately on the experiences and impressions that he or she has collected in his or her life. In my case, it comes down to the motif. Sometimes I have an idea in my head straightaway and sketch it out immediately. Sometimes I have to think it over for some time. In the latter case, I let myself be inspired by the theme I’m working on and look at many things that are connected with it. It could be anything, like movies, music, photos, and of course illustrations.
I can’t really answer that. The important thing for me is to have some time to dedicate myself totally to my dream profession, that of an illustrator. Since I don’t have the time to totally concentrate on the job while studying, I really must learn that skill first. I can’t say which industry it will be either at the moment: maybe the music industry, that sounds good. But maybe something totally different. I would like to keep my options open.
The most important thing for me was to look back over all the things I’ve done one more time. To keep looking around at what others do, and to learn to evaluate my own creative process and the quality of my works.
Inspiration, thought-provoking, self-reflection.
Felix Hülpüsch, Communication Design, Graduated 2013, exhibited at Millerntor Gallery this year. We met him for an interview:
You studied Communication Design at the University of Applied Sciences Europe on Campus Berlin. There are many universities in Berlin with an arts-centered department. Why did you choose the University of Applied Sciences Europe?
After my education as a media designer I wanted to expand my horizon and learn new things. I liked the University of Applied Sciences Europe (then BTK – University of Art & Design) straightaway, because there were interesting modules and professors in my chosen program, Communication Design. The possibility to try different disciplines like Motion Design and Photography totally sold the place to me. The concept of small study groups and a practice-based approach were also very important to me. So in the end the decision was actually a simple one.
On Campus Berlin there is always something going on, for example, semesters abroad, internships, and clubs. What study-related experience has stuck in your mind?
The final semester was really the most intense of all, because we as a group organized and designed the entire opening of the graduate exhibition. It brought us graduates closer together. Above all, the development of my final project “Schöne Jugend”, an illustrated volume of poems by Gottfried Benn will always remain a highlight for me. The development and whole production planning were tough but this book is to this day a special memento from my degree and still makes me proud.
Our students chose a slogan “Create your story. Inspire the world.” What experiences from your studies enabled you to go down your own personal career path? What inspired you to take that path?
A tip from a professor to go down unusual routes to achieve your goals helped me a lot. This happens in my work but also constantly in my private life, because I can never plan what comes next. I find it enormously important that you have enjoy what you create, but also reflect on it and yourself as well. Only then can you get the most out of yourself.
Give us an example from your time as a student to now when it paid off to abandon the well-trodden path / push yourself beyond your limits. What allowed you to do it?
After a few bad experiences as an employee, I decided to take half a year off from my regular work as a graphic designer in 2016 and just paint. In hindsight, it was the best decision for me, replacing my office chair with an easel at home and simply painting large canvases and commissions. It was good for self-discovery and helped me establish my own style. It was really great that my family and friends encouraged me to take a break and pursue my passion.
Why did you adopt the pseudonym Hülpman?
Funnily enough it came from a friend, who was never able to pronounce my family name Hülpüsch correctly and came up with “Hey Hülpman, what’s up?” I did not want to create my art under the tag I used as a graffiti artist and was looking for an unusual name that’s memorable. Connecting my surname and “man” in one word sounded good because it’s possible for my friends who aren’t native German speakers to remember the name easily.
You have gone through many stages in your career and have become a very successful street artist. How did that come about?
I have worked at a number of agencies in Berlin and Hamburg and been a graffiti artist for 20 years. I’ve been drawing my whole life. After a short break during my studies ten years ago, I started to illustrate more regularly and to spray again. What started as a counterbalance to everyday office life developed into my biggest passion. I draw every day and experiment with the most diverse media I can find: shoes, caps, canvas, wall, wood … I regularly go painting with my friends privately because it helps put the mundane aside and to forget all about it. Due to my very high rate of output and the development of a very unique style, my pieces and contributions are reaching a wide audience, also thanks to social media, and that leads to requests to take part in festivals and to great commissions. The constant growth of this self-employed work and feedback has been enormous! But it doesn’t mean I’m resting on my laurels, instead it fuels me to go further and work harder.
Your are exhibiting at Millerntor Gallery in 2018. How did this cooperation happen?
Our team (Scribblaholics with Alain Welter and Mika Sitter, also graduates of the University of Applied Sciences Europe) was able to prove our skills in a number of live sketch battles, for instance at the Secret Wars Event. This was where I first met Anna Lafrenz, the curator of Millerntor Gallery. After an initial chat, I sent in my portfolio. The feedback was superb and I worked on my drafts. After a week and a half of constant action and my first participation, I got to know great people working there and Viva Con Agua, and I’m proud to be part of this unique event. Alongside my conceptual wall design, I was able to design a couple of containers, a robot, and another wall. At the opening evening I teamed up with the Secret Allstar team to battle against Samy Deluxe and his team. We were able to raise 1,600 Euros for Viva Con Agua with the auction of the resulting works. I hope I can be part of this great project again in the future. It was very intense, but really exhilarating too.
Your works are big but detailed. Could you describe how your creative process works?
With my pattern work, which I call “Abstracts”, I don’t follow a particular formula. I like to work freestyle and let myself be inspired by my surroundings and everyday life. I start in one corner and develop the motif from there. In this process I work primarily with characters but also with typographical elements. Depending on the surface, I use markers, spray cans, and acrylic paints. I always leave some room for spontaneous decisions in my drafts and commissions because I’m a big fan of improvisation. For large conceptual walls, I work on a sketch, mostly in black and white and then I almost always decide on the colors on a whim. Thematically I make use of what’s happening in the world at the moment, but also augment this with my surroundings in Hamburg and Berlin. The connection to my hood and home is very important to me.
What’s next? / What’s your dream? What would you like to achieve in the next 10 years?
After many years as a permanent employee, the next step is very clearly to be self-employed. At the moment everything is going well: I regularly exhibit, paint at festivals, and organize workshops. In the next few years I want to try to establish my art as a source of income, just because it’s so much more fun than normal graphics. But that is important for making a living, or to put it another way, it’s always important to have multiple sources of income. My dream is to see my own work in a big gallery or even a museum and to design a whole facade of a house in my hood. In addition, I want to travel through my art in the future. Hopefully I will be painting together with my family and children in 10 years =)
What is your tip for future Arts & Design students at the University of Applied Sciences Europe? What should they make use of at the university? What should they be aware of as they develop?
It’s important not to work only in your genre, but push yourself to your limits. Make use of the many offers and have the courage to try something new. And network. That’s still very important for me today, because commissions come from my old classmates or our together on projects. As I mentioned, always make sure you enjoy what you’re creating but can also cast a critical eye on your own work.
Finally, describe your degree in three words!
Diverse, intense, practical
Sylvia Rybak, is a polish student at our Campus Berlin. She is studying Photography, right now she completes her internship semester. We met her and asked her some questions about her studies at the University of Applied Sciences Europe.
There are a lot of art colleges in Germany. Why did you choose Campus Berlin of the University of Applied Sciences Europe formely BTK?
I was looking for a university that would teach me all of the skills to become a professional in my field. I also did not want to limit my education to purely the field of photography, hence I was intrigued by the fact that I could also choose electives from different programs offered by the school (eg. communication design).
At the UE, there was always something going on: e.g., semester abroad, internships and departmental projects. What UE experience had the greatest impact on you?
I think my internship semester has had the biggest impact on me. I have the opportunity and time to help out with some projects, which I find fascinating and very different from what I have been doing up to this point. It’s great to explore the art world from the backstage and meet interesting people.
The UE students chose a slogan: “Create your story. Inspire the world.” What experiences did you have during your studies that supported you in forging your own career path? What inspired you to take this direction?
When I began my studies, I was quite unsure about the type of photography I would be interested in. I had the experience to try different types of this medium eg. documentary, fashion, staged. It helped me choose what I truly enjoy and am best at, but also provided me with a fundamental knowledge of every field.
What made you enthusiastic about working on your projects? What about them makes you particularly proud?
What makes me particularly proud is the progress that I see I am making from project to project. I don’t think anyone is ever fully happy with their final result, but I do notice a difference in quality within the works I produce over time. I feel that university is still a time to experiment and develop your ideas and having this freedom is still a large source of excitement for me.
You are in your internship semester. Tell us about your duties and responsibilities in your company. Why did you choose this company?
I am working at a foundation supporting artists in sales and connecting them with gallerists and patrons. They do this by organizing large vernissages around Europe, where the artists can exhibit for free and be in direct contact with people interested in buying their works. I chose this foundation, because I remember going to one of their vernissages a few years back and was very impressed by the variety and quality of work they presented - so I decided to send them an email. My responsibilities include cataloging the artwork, running the website, photo documentation and sometimes even hanging the artwork. I get to work closely with a curator and learn about how the art industry functions, which is very valuable.
Tell us about a situation during your studies where it was worth it to leave the well-trodden path and stretch beyond your own boundaries. What supported you in that situation?
I remember when I had an assignment to recreate an image of a famous photographer, which was in a completely different style of photography than I had done before. I remember that I had to retake that photograph at least five times and in the end I managed to create an image with the same feeling as the original. I think what mainly supported me in that situation was my persistence.
Where do you go from here? / What are your dreams? Where do you want to be in ten years?
After finishing my studies I’m planning to pursue a Master’s degree in Visual Arts or Set Design. In ten years I would probably like to be running my own studio, where I could do both commissioned and artistic work. I’d also love to start an art collective and magazine one day.
Do you have tips for current UE students? What should they make use of at the school? What should they pay attention to, when it comes to their development?
Definitely make use of the studios! I think it’s also very important to use the opportunity of being in contact with teachers, who are professionals in your field, as much as possible and never hesitate to ask for advice and critique. I feel that a lot of people forget that how much they develop depends purely on them and how much effort they put into their development themselves.
Describe your studies at the UE in three terms
stimulating, encouraging, broad
Here you can see some of Sylvias artistic works:
Digging deep into the human mind: For her graduation project at BTK University, Christina Heurig gives us a glimpse into the psychological, darkly romantic and mysterious world of E.T.A. Hoffmann. Fictional files invite the viewer into the mind of the protagonist from Hoffmann’s story, “The Sandman,” while dealing with ancient and modern scientific approaches to the human perceptions of reality.
At the Berlin Campus, there was always something going on: e.g., semester abroad, internships and departmental projects. What experience had the greatest impact on you?
A combination of many experiences! Self-discovery is particularly essential in the creative field, since it’s visible in one’s professional work. Through our various courses, some outside our field, I was able to try out and experiment with what was really right for me. This experimental phase extended itself across two very distinctly different internships: Postproduction 2D/3D at PX1 and Scenography assistance at Studio Babelsberg/HFF Potsdam. The first taught me commercial perfection in print, retouching, final drafting and customer management in the branding industry. The other brought my skills in story telling and industrial art practices (design and set building) in production design up to a completely new level!
Both sets of skills are now essential for me. Without the context of my studies, the experiences would have been less worthwhile, since I was able to take what I learned and reflect on it once more in the theory modules and bring all of these disciplines together in my BA thesis.
The students chose a slogan: “Create your story. Inspire the world.” What experiences did you have during your studies that supported you in forging your own career path? What inspired you to take this direction?
If I’m honest, it was less the experiences within my studies and more everything that took place around them: life itself! Joy, sorrow, travel, museums, culture, Berlin, getting to know new people—and yet more crises! For a long time, I expected that university would tell me, step by step, how I should develop myself. But what the UE gives you is this: a basic foundation of technological and expert knowledge, theory, support, connections—a huge treasure trove you can use to create.
But you yourself need to know who you are and what your real dreams are. What your passion is! And you need really good friends and the unshakeable trust that everything will turn out well, regardless of how tough it is now. Only then can you develop a strong intuition for which people can help you move forward or where you have to go to follow this exact path further. Sometimes it seems like an errant path, which nonetheless turns out to be exactly the right one!
Your Bachelor project is dedicated to the story, “The Sandman,” by E.T.A. Hoffman, a romantic who anticipated the fantasy genre. What made you enthusiastic about working on this topic? What about this project makes you particularly proud?
The “Sandman” tells the story of a boy who perceives a nightly visitor as a grotesque figure and imagines frightening images. He later falls in love with a mechanical doll and “drowns” in images from his imagination. Hoffmann tells this in such a way that the main plot line is unclear, that which the protagonist is really experiencing. Persecution complexes, spiritualism, madness, fantasy, the subconscious—these are still current themes today, regardless of how modern and digital we are.
My interactive books of experiences are the protagonist’s fictional diaries, which the reader decodes for him or herself.
I’ve also visually opened up the basis upon which perception and reality are built. Transparencies, book pages, stacks of pages, collecting, collaging, revealing and concealing. The contents become haptic puzzle pieces the reader uses to create the world of the protagonist him or herself.
This project is also parallel to a visual research project on the idea of reality around 1850. Scholarship has always been a manmade tool in order to understand “reality.” It was tremendously exciting and was much better than working on a simple re-telling. I discovered hundred-year-old scholarly documents in the public domain, which dealt with (and illustrated) psychology, spiritualism or even precise scientific scholarship. These offered a view—obscure from the standpoint of the present day—into the perception of reality at the time! These occult bombshells fuel the fantasy to a remarkable extent!
It was exciting the way a story, through its staging, could contain so many media: along with photography on transparencies for the book (silhouettes), stamps, fictive documents and notes, cardboard book covers, an film of images (https://vimeo.com/240470679) and the protagonist’s complete, staged workspace (http://www.sköne-öke.de/ausstellung/) for exhibitions took shape! And its keeps on growing!
Describe your studies in three terms
Toolkit, Help with Decisions, Foundation in Theory
Which three things in your studies are you most grateful for?
1. Close contact with instructors, who honed my “artistic voice.” (Thank you, James Higginson, Cyrus Khazaeli and Daniel Bastian!)
2. Learning to “study”: No one at the University of Applied Sciences Europe could tell me how I should develop myself. You had to find that out for yourself! Throughout, I was encouraged to find my own way.
3. Once I knew what I needed as terms of additional skills, I could make use the opportunities and experiences available at the University of Applied Sciences Europe.
“Kyosei depicts the disastrous happenings around Fukushima. I was in Tokyo on those days. The moods that came with the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear catastrophe, I transformed them into a medial panorama.
On March 11 2011, the intense earthquake shook Japan which cause amongst other effects the accident with the reactor in Fukushima. To me, that was a disturbing experience and greatly influenced my perception of Tokyo as a city. The title of the movie, Kyosei, means coexistence and points to the contradiction of continuing a normal life whilst suffering the fear of radiation. The scenes portray Tokyo as a city that is on the one hand dynamic and always well-lit at night but on the other hand shaken by an atomic disaster. Fearful people lose themselves in the anonymous metropolitan crowd in Tokyo, that is being more and more strongly abstracted during the course of the animation.”
“As origin of natural forces and as site of the atomic happenings, nature is given a special importance. Koysei/Coexistence is pictured as a panorama and enables the beholder to embrace a world of imagery as his surroundings. Conversations with the guest show that the panorama installations are a visual experience with strong emotional involvement for the beholder.”
How did you come up with the idea to realize a panorama for your graduation work and what experiences could you make?
My interest in media spaces sparked during my sixth semester. I came up with my first small panorama in a group of four during a seminar with Daniel Wangen. Each of us had differing competences and in the end we created something that none of us could have achieved on their own. The group work and the fact that your are building your own isolated space for a movie have appealed to me from the very beginning. Also, the effect of the panorama was surprising. The movie, that I formerly knew only on screen, could suddenly be experienced in a room. The beholder is involved in a different way. I do not think that a panorama makes you fall for the illusion of being in a different placem, but I can create a narrative atmosphere that the beholder reacts to.
The experience that I gathered with this prototype lead me to the idea for my graduation project and also gave me the confidence to master the task. This time the panorama had to be bigger and portray a topic that had to do with myself. In my work I again had an awesome team - for the construction of the room, the technical installation and the sound, but the conception, the planning of the realization and the execution were in my very own hands. And even though I knew what to do down to the smallest detail, in the end I was still startled by the complexity and dimension of the work. The room with a diameter of five meters and the projections reaching two meters were more impressionable than I had imagined. The feedback I received from visitors, no matter where it was staged, reassured me that I had succeeded in creating an atmosphere that was emotionally touching. To me those were valuable experiences and empowering reactions that encouraged me to continue my work in the way of design.
What came after your studies?
At first I interned at the agency Tamschick Media+Space to gain deeper insight into the everyday work. There I could participate in the creation of spacial concepts for museums and fairs. Simultaneously I had the opportunity to enrich a Berlin theatre ensemble’s scenery with my own videos. Again, team work was a very present topic for me. In theatre everyone is very much into their own discipline and has to make an effort to get involved with others. At the moment I am in the midst of a production of a veneer project that will be viewed within the context of a classical concert in Luxembourg. It is my first time working with Daniel and it is exciting to witness a former lecturer function in the professional world.
It sounds like media spaces will engage you for quite some time. Do you have any plans for the future?
The space seems to have become my common thread. In the fall I am beginning my Master studies. Because of my portfolio I received a scholarship for the study program Narrative Environments at the University of the Arts London - Central Saint Martins. The students come from very different branches, e.g. architecture or graphic design. I was told that someone with a background in motion design is rarely seen. I’m excited!
“My time as a student at University of Applied Sciences Europe had many facets, surely not all professors enjoyed my attitude. I have always taken a lot of photographs outside of the university in order to gain practical experience and build a network of potential employers. I did my internship earlier than usual because I wanted to find out if photography was what I actually wanted to do for the rest of my life. There were many parts of the curriculum that fascinated me immensely: Media theory, history of design or even philosophy were some of the courses that have fundamentally contributed to my life path. It is essential to know that you are the one in charge. No one will do your work for you, you have to want it for yourself and then go out to fight for it. No pain no gain!”
“At University of Applied Sciences Europe the atmosphere is very personal and everything takes place under one roof. I got along really well with all professors and fellow students. During this time I learned to stop overthinking and trust my intuition.”
“The personal dialogue with the professors manifested on a very friendly level. I also found someone with whom I felt connected, who could understand me. That way I could solve problems that I had more easily in a short conversation, instead of trying around by myself for ages. There were three different concepts that I discussed with Prof. Katrin Thomas. After that I just knew what I wanted to do. If one does not perceive lecturers solely as teachers and dares to discuss personal ideas and concepts, they can be understood as mentors, so to say. As the study groups at University of Applied Sciences Europe tend to be really small (ten to 15 people), there is plenty of opportunity to get in touch and share with the professors.”
“When you focus only on photography and editing, being self-employed really pays. Surely a gallery and a good rep, as in my case, will be very helpful. And surely that kind of luxury can take its time until beyond the end of your studies. Without hard work and initiative, you cannot live the dream of working and sustaining yourself as a photographer. There are just too many of them in Berlin, to stand your own ground is a big undertaking. After a certain time everyone granted me the freedom that I needed and all of the professors were very supportive of my projects. University of Applied Sciences Europe was a deeply important time in my life and I would choose again and again to study at this university!”
„At University of Applied Sciences Europe I have always appreciated the open dialogue between professors and students, being able to converse freely and on an equal footing. Thereby I always perceived my lecturers as professional guides who could also offer assistance in first actual projects outside of school.“
„Even though I really enjoyed the interdisciplinary courses and tried to make the most out of it, my bachelor thesis was definitely my favorite as I was able to focus on this particular project. Thanks to the theoretical background, the idea for my practical project could ripen day by day, which led to „Methodo“ becoming quite a good one actually. Also, I could further deepen my focus on UI/UX design with this project and also pair it with my passion for bran dings.“
“I particularly like the interdisciplinary work and small seminar groups, because the learning atmosphere was then more comfortable and we could try out lots of things before focusing on one single topic.”
“My favorite project? My bachelor’s thesis! I had produced an illustrated book of select poems by Gottfried Benn, which enabled me to combine my favorite disciplines, Illustration and Editorial Design. From the concept phase to final production, I took care of all the steps personally and am still really satisfied with the result. The climax of my studies!”
"The study program at University of Applied Sciences Europe is a good starting point to discover your passion and capabilities. Since the program offers you several branches of studies and multiple courses, they help you spot your preferences and find your way with ease. I was amazed by the broad range of technical equipment University of Applied Sciences Europe offers you to borrow. This is a big facilitation in your creative workflow and makes students' lives a lot easier in several ways! The cooperation with the profs is amicable and easy-going. They are technically and practically really competent. As always in life, it is up to yourself, to pick up as much knowledge as you can get in this limited time and get the most out of the study program. Once you are working in the industry with clients, you remember how awesome it was, to develop your own creative ideas, without having someone looking over your shoulder all the time…"
"I totally came to 3D through the University of Applied Sciences Europe. Before the study program, I hardly opened a 3D software. Some of my first bigger 3D projects were "Drillbot" and "The Limit" where I developed my passion for 3D/VFX, fluid dynamics as well as particle physics."
"My first personal success was my bachelor's thesis "CYCLE" which was staff-picked at Vimeo, shortlisted at "One Minute" Film Festival (Switzerland, 2012) and featured in a couple of blogs such as Behance' "Motion Graphics Served".
"2012 I got the chance to work at the great studio "SEHSUCHT Berlin", where I participated in several big projects and could strengthen my 3D skills. It was a great experience, to bring the knowledge I picked up at University of Applied Sciences Europe to the next level and take it into a professional context and pipeline.
The most successful project (in terms of awards) I had the pleasure to work on at SEHSUCHT Berlin, was the show package for the MTV European Music Awards 2012."
Awards: ADC (2013, 2x Bronze in "Designpackage" and in "Motion Graphics/3d"), ITFS (2013, Gold in "Advertising") BASS (2013, Gold in "Programme Branding Design")
Shortlisted: Cannes Lions (2013, in "Design")
"The following two years I was working at the studio SEHSUCHT where I could benefit from the profound technical knowledge and the practical skills I acquired during my studies at University of Applied Sciences Europe. With my passion for 3D simulation and physics I built up over time, as I mentioned earlier, I could establish myself as "the guy for the fluids and particles" at the studio and ended up doing what I liked most! I was involved in following award-winning projects working in the 3D department in general."
"Lately I took the next step and started my freelancing career. It is exciting to develop ideas and concepts on some projects on my own and being more responsible – it reminds me a bit of the time I studied at University of Applied Sciences Europe."
Cindy Fuhlendorf studies Communication Design at University of Applied Sciences Europe Hamburg. During her internship at Jung von Matt, she breathed agency air and worked for Otto and OBI among others. Her personal highlight: The realization of a 1&1 TV commercial that was broadcast on television in November 2016.
What University of Applied Sciences Europe experience (Faculty of Art & Design) has particularly shaped you?
I enjoyed many courses but two really stood out. The first was “Corporate Identity” with Ilona Klück. In it I realized for the first time that when you’ve come up with a good idea, all the complications and everything else become easy. You quickly notice that an idea isn’t good, when its development is difficult and dull. In this course I realized that I am really interested in CI. Even before my studies, I was interested in packaging design. This interest has been more than confirmed by the packaging design course I’m taking at the moment. Developing concepts and realizing them myself are unbelievable fun for me.
What do you find exciting in your studies? What are you particularly proud of?
I go to school to get inspiration, assignments, and support, the rest is studying on my own and “learning by doing”. I could just about use Photoshop Magic Wand tool before the first semester, and had very little idea about InDesign or Illustrator. After three years of studying, I got many compliments at “ADC Speed Recruiting” event on my Photoshop skills. I was really proud of that.
What was the most exciting thing during your internship and what are you particularly proud of in relation to the internship?
I enjoyed the relaxed and awesome atmosphere in the agency during my internship the most. All employees were open with each other and they were always willing to help. I found it really great that I was not treated as a stereotypical coffee-fetching intern. Everyone was taken seriously and was an equal part of the team. That motivated me. My personal highlight was the realization of my idea for a 1&1 commercial that was shown on TV last November. That was something every special and made me more confident in terms of my creativity. Even more so because I usually tend to underestimate myself.
Where will it lead? What is your dream? What would you like to achieve in the next 10 years.
After completing the degree I would very much like to join a large agency and gain as much experience as possible. After my internship at an ad agency, I’m also interested in joining a design agency. In 10 years, I see myself either at an awesome agency as a Creative Director or heading my own little agency, in Ibiza of course.
What experiences from your courses have helped you in your internship?
The courses have definitely helped me in that we worked on real or hypothetical briefs from time to time. Of course it didn’t happen exactly like that at the agency, but it did help me. I knew for the most part how to handle briefs. In addition, the Adobe Creative Cloud knowledge that I acquired through the projects at the University of Europe (then BTK), as I’ve already mentioned, helped me to meet the expectations of my Creative Director.
Describe your degree at University of Applied Sciences Europe in three words.
Responsibility. Flexibility. Creativity.
Carmen Lenhof studied Photography at University of Applied Sciences Europe Hamburg (formerly BTK) and completed her BA degree with her project “InsideOut”. She tells us in this interview what she has experienced in her degree and how she came to the topic of her bachelor’s final project:
At University of Applied Sciences Europe there’s always something going, for example semester abroad, internships, and student resorts. What experiences have strongly shaped you?
Defining experiences were for example project weeks. I was able to go to Finland on an aurora borealis workshop. That was a truly awesome experience! But also the “Visual Angels on Environmental Change” workshop, which took place in Finland as well, was extremely interesting. There has been a book published on that recently. However, the project week should not always be just a trip. Often photographers also attended alongside us and with whom we have realized different projects. The topics were all very exciting, but what I liked about the project weeks above all was that you get to grapple with and work on a topic intensively for a week, alone or in a team. And great projects were the results! The practical semester definitely counts as well. During it, I was able to see the theory in practice for the first time and gained an insight into the daily routine of a photographer. I learned a lot in this internship. Furthermore defining experiences for me were the preparations for the exhibitions and of course also the exhibitions themselves. I learned a lot about how to organize an exhibition and present my work the right way.
What experiences from your course have supported you to embark on your very personal career path?
I don’t see a very clearly defined career path yet. I would like to try a few more things. In my studies there were many things that were introduced to me and I would like to explore them further, for example the area of “film”.
What has inspired you in your bachelor’s final project topic?
I know people who suffer from mental health issues in my circles. I have always asked myself what is happening with those who are affected and what they go through. That led me to the topic for my bachelor’s final project.
How did you plan the development and realization of your project?
I had already worked on the topic of “mental health issues” in my 6th semester. It was a photographic work comprising 29 b/w images that I had created without any background information or inspiration. In my bachelor’s final project I have then concentrated on endogenous and affective psychosis and took up schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as examples. Different things inspired me to pictures: Texts by those who are affected, works by artists who were affected themselves, or music. But for the most part I’ve created them from my own imagination. On the pictures there are no mental health patients to be seen, but models. I didn’t want to give the illness a face. For me, it was much more about capturing the totality of the feeling and building a bridge of empathy for the viewers. Through the different approaches new perspectives also developed. Gradually and increasingly I have then found my own visual language.
What are you excited about your project and what are you particularly proud of?
Despite the topic that’s critical of the society, it was positively received and reflected upon. That shows me that I have found a way to communicate with people on such an important issue. That was also one of the goals of my project.
Tell us an example in your career when it was worth abandoning the well-trodden path / challenge yourself to go beyond the limit? What drove you / supported you?
As I’ve already mentioned, the preparations for the exhibitions as well as the exhibitions themselves were defining experiences, and the bachelor’s exhibition above all. As there were a few of us, everyone had to be responsible for many tasks. And the result was worth the sleepless nights and all the effort. Overall it was a very stressful time, but also very instructive.
Where are you heading? What’s your dream?
I certainly would like to do more photographic projects of my own. In addition, I would also like to try further different directions, and the subject area of film interests me the most.