Designer of the Week: Julie Katrine Andersen

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Photo: Mathias Foley

Take a moment to meet Print’s Designer of the Week, Julie Katrine Andersen, and you’ll find yourself charmed by her work and life philosophies, her honest advice, and her thoughts on creative inspiration.

Name: Julie Katrine Andersen

Name of Studio: Lil’Ol’Lady

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark.

How would you describe your work?
Like something an old lady with an attitude problem could have done.

Design school attended: The Graphic Arts Institute of Denmark (BA), The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (MA).

Where do you find inspiration?
Old craft books from flea markets or the library, New York and Tokyo supermarkets, art exhibitions, bookshops all over the world where I’ve spent gazillions of dollars on books and magazines, and my guilty pleasure: Pinterest. It’s like candy, it’s not good for me in large amounts, but I can’t help it! Somehow plagiarism sneaks in very easily. I see that when I teach students, but I’ve also caught myself a few times doing something, that I thought looked great but very familiar, then I’ve looked through my Pinterest feed from the last week and, low and behold, there it is! Then I’ve had to trash my work. From a creative point of view; I hate when that happens. But it’s so interesting from a human point of view, because it shows how easily influenced we are and how inspiration sticks like post-it notes in our brains, sometimes without us even knowing.

Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?
Jessica Hische is definitely one of them—she’s the reason I sent my work in to the Print’s Typography & Lettering Awards in the first place, and I’m totally teenage-proud that I won with her in the jury. But I would also want to mention (random first-comes-to-mind-line-of-thought here) Conor Harrington, Marian Bantjes, Design Army, Sagmeister & Walsh, David Shrigley, Ian Stevenson, Non-Format, Mr. Bingo, Louise Fili and Sarah Illenberger.

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Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?
I think actually YOLO is my fave, because it’s very symbolic to me. It is a symbol of how scaredy-pants Julie finally dared to jump off a cliff and found out she could actually fly. I made it when I quit my steady job and took a chance on doing my own thing. I was so scared, and I needed something to remind me that if everything went wrong it is better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all. It is my way of saying “Go on, live a little!” As it turned out YOLO became a great self-promotion piece, so it worked in many ways.

Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
I would always have to answer that question with: my exhibition “Be My Valentine, Bitch” from 2012. It is a little weird, because I see myself as a designer and not as an artist, but with this project I started to bridge that gap. The work started with a bad break-up and an ex-boyfriend’s famous last words: “Thanks for all your shit, bitch!” I was so shocked at the time, that I wasn’t able to give him (the proper amount of) hell back. So I made a whole exhibition out of that, with all the rage and energy that my answer should have had.

That makes me sound crazy (rightly so!) but the exhibition ended up having nothing to do with him, and everything to do with turning negative into positive. With my own two hands and hours and hours of knitting, crocheting, etc., a crappy experience was transformed from something bad that I experienced into something great that I accomplished. That was a great lesson for me, so I guess I should thank the asshole … but I’m not gonna.

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What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
This year I made a New Year’s resolution to “Worry less. Do more. Take chances. Trust myself.” I hope that this promise to myself will in turn help me tick a few boxes on my professional bucket list which includes speaking at more conferences and doing crafty editorial openers for some of my most favourite well-designed magazines like New York, Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek, GOOD Magazine, GQ and Esquire (I’m waiting by the phone—call me!). Viewing the bigger picture, I just want to live a fulfilling life where I get to work with the stuff I love and have awesome and inspiring people around me. What could be better than that?

What’s your best advice for designers today?
I wrote this list a few years back during the crazy list making trend in order to keep myself on track. I think it’s still the only decent advice I have to offer:

1. Always take the road less travelled; sometimes take the road with the most obstacles and learn from overcoming them.

2. Never think what a solution SHOULD be, but what it COULD be.

3. Never let technology/craft be a hindrance of going with a good idea—figure it out!

4. See things from another angle; see it from far away, up really close, from underneath or on top, pull it apart and put it back together in a different way.

5. Do good with what you have. There is beauty in everything, you might just have to look a little harder to find it!

6. Perfection is sometimes the imperfect.

7. If something is good enough, is it really good?

8. Helvetica is hardly ever the answer, merely a placeholder.

9. See mistakes as detours rather than mistakes.

10. Take shit personally!

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