Featured Graphic Designer, Illustrator & Artist

Nina Bachmann

October 2019

Designer, illustrator, artist and beer-brewer Nina Bachmann chats to us about how she balances creative freedom with a design day job. She spoke to us about learning from her worst design job, the importance of her non-traditional creative space, and giving people what they don't expect.

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

I studied communication design at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich. The first small jobs were illustrated city maps for a Munich magazine, the first big one was a signage system for a sports park in a community near Munich Airport. I also founded my own beer brand with three friends, where I had the greatest possible design freedom and trust and was allowed to try out all kind of things. I developed a comprehensive brand concept, from the website to posters, t-shirts etc, and of course bottle labels. The beautiful thing is, it has developed excellently and runs very well. It's so nice to walk around town and see people drinking your beer.

What's the worst design job you’ve ever had and how did it make you a better designer?

Together with a friend, I had the order to make an identity for a nutritionist. We worked out concept after concept, we met often, came up with new suggestions again and again, but in the end we gave up because the client himself didn't know what he wanted.

This taught me how to clarify and define the scope in advance. Trust is important. If the client doesn't trust the designer, it quickly becomes a never-ending story.

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

Basically, I always need an hour's rest in the morning for myself, including drinking coffee. I can't cope with stress in the morning; it has an effect on the whole day.

From Monday to Wednesday, I work for three days in a graphic design agency. The job is more classic, from concept development to design. Most of the time it's on the computer. There are a lot of routines, meetings and responsibility to make sure that everything is done in a short period of time. I've really learned to work fast and be goal-oriented. We mainly do branding, design books, but also signage systems for large clients. Nevertheless, the atmosphere is very relaxed, which is also very important to me.

The completely contrasting programme starts on Thursday. From then on, I work freelance in my own studio, which I share with two friends. For a long time I worked from home, but I recommend that everyone have their own workplace outside their own four walls.

In the studio, I have as much freedom as possible. It's a place to try out what comes into your head, to exchange ideas directly and to make mistakes. That's where most ideas and projects come from. It's not a clean desk, it's colorful with all kinds of pens, papers and materials. I illustrate a lot, paint with acrylics and oil pastels or build figures from modeling clay. We have a large roof terrace, so you can also work in the sun under the sky. I also like to spend my free time there, cook with friends or hang out over a drink in the evening and talk about ideas and visions.

I think it's good for everyone to have a creative place where you don't work a in a traditional way, but where you can get involved with all the unknown things you can't try out otherwise, where you can be wild, both in terms of content and in practice.

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I enjoyed seeing what happens when people are confronted with things they know but don't expect.

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Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

Yes, a personal one. It's a series of acrylic paintings, feminist porn. Society becomes more open, but many feel caught when it comes to sex. There are stereotypical patterns about how you have to look and behave, the colors are dark and unemotional. My pictures, on the other hand, are joyful facial expressions and gestures, normal bodies and bright colours, far away from what many expect. Gender doesn't really play a role. I enjoyed seeing what happens when people are confronted with things they know but don't expect.

What's on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

I would like to make an exhibition soon and illustrate more. I'm a big fan of small things like prints, pins, tshirts and badges. I'm always happy when people hang pictures of me in their rooms or wear pins on their jackets. I am also looking forward to working with a very good friend, bicycle mechanic, who would like to start his own brand and bikeshop in Munich. And maybe there will be a new type of beer soon…

What are some of the best and worst parts of your job, day-to-day?

Sometimes it's not easy to switch your head off. Until shortly before falling asleep, I often think about what might look better, what I will do next or what I want to try out. Sometimes the possibilities seem endless and the time too short.

What's really fun is noticing how to record all sorts of everyday impressions, emotions and themes, how to shape them into an idea to bring them to a medium in your own style, to reach people, to make them laugh or think.

Website: ninabachmann.de

Instagram: @ninamandariina

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