I can’t think of a better person to highlight on the 2nd anniversary of this monthly series than our very own blog team member, Nina! Not only is she talented and sweet, but she’s also got tons of great advice — and I’m happy to share more of her story with you today.
Hi, my name is Nina! I’m a cat lover, black tea drinker, and pink addict! That’s why I came up with my artist’s name ‘MilkyRosa,’ because it combines my most favorite things!
I’m originally from a very tiny village in Austria called Allhaming. It’s only 1200 citizens small! But I recently moved to Schörfling at the beautiful Attersee at the end of 2020.
I started my art path when I was about 13, when I decided to take art more seriously. Before then I really enjoyed anime and manga and used to copy images all the time. I then applied for a specialized art school and got accepted. This is where I went from the age of 14 to 19 and where I also did my leaving cert. After that I decided to go into interior design, but realized it wasn’t creative enough for me. During this time I stopped drawing completely and I really missed it. So I decided to study illustration. But because it’s not a subject you can study in Austria, I moved to Dublin for two years to get my diploma from Ballyfermot College of Further Education.
In 2018 I started my own business, but still worked full time as a graphic designer or interior designer, depending on which jobs were available. During COVID, I decided to take the plunge into becoming a full-time freelancer. Since then I’m starting to build my career and grow as an artist. It’s wonderful so far, because it’s the first time I can fully focus all my energy on what I love and want to do!
Tell us a little bit about your design journey.
In the first art school I went to, we had a subject focusing on silk screen printing. We made repeat patterns and printed them by hand, but nobody ever called it surface design. So for the first few years of making patterns, I didn’t even know this had a name or that it could be a proper job!
Later in college, I made patterns for endpapers for handbound book projects or my own portfolios as cover images. But I still didn’t know that there was a whole field dedicated to designing for surfaces! It just started very naturally and kind of snuck up on me, to be honest!
So I’m not entirely sure when I found out about surface design as a career path, but I think that it mostly had to do with Instagram and finding more and more people doing what I wanted to do and educating myself about how to achieve my goal of becoming a surface designer.
What advice about the surface design industry has been most helpful to you in your career so far?
That tenacity is the key. It’s so easy to give up too soon, because you can get discouraged a lot, when you get bad or no feedback.
During my time in college I also got in contact with various design styles and realized that there is room for everyone. Because not everyone’s taste is the same! This reassured me to keep on going with pursuing my dream, because I suddenly felt like there was a place for me out there as well. Even if I hadn’t found it yet!
What has been your favorite client collaboration to date and how did you find them?
It was a very local commission! It’s a small company just a few miles away from where I grew up. She read an article about me in a business magazine a year prior to contacting me, but because I lived so close to her she remembered me.
I got to design six exclusive patterns for her and her business. It was super fun to work with her! Just everything fell into place.
The designs could be fun, quirky and character based, because she makes small cuddly toys for babies in the shapes of cats, dogs, and rabbits. It was challenging, because she needed the motifs to fit onto the bodies but also wanted for the fabric itself to look cute and cohesive without any odd gaps. She left me a lot of freedom and was very pleased with my designs, which was a self-esteem booster on my end, of course!
When you look back at your design journey so far, what are you most proud of?
That I had the courage to become a full time freelancer in 2020. I knew my regular job held me back before, but I always found some excuses to stick with it. During covid I had to deal with issues in my last company, which I didn’t want to do any longer. With the reassurance of my partner I quit and started to focus on my own business. Since then I worked with some amazing people and even registered to do my first trade shows!
What advice would you give to surface designers who are struggling?
Give it time because you can’t force progress.
Looking back I realize how much has changed over the last few years. Back then I sometimes wondered if a decision was the right one or if I could do anything differently.
A few years back I learned though, that everything happens for a reason and if one door closes, another one opens up for you. So just believe in yourself, because I’m sure looking back you will see that everything had to happen the way it did!
Where can we find you?
P.S. If you’d like to be featured on the SDR blog, you can always submit your story right here!