I am Nora Lorz, Graphic Designer. I was born and grew up in Berlin. Here I am leading my own Design Studio www.noralorz-design.de. After my diploma in Communication Design I did a lot of graphic design work at home and abroad in Australia and Asia. I believe in the power of print design and I am passionate about it. The possibilities offered by a blank piece of white paper do fascinate me every single day of my work.
A printout is durable while digital design can disappear as quickly as it appeared. In times of digital media, when everything is moving very fast, to me it’s very important to stop and take the time to look at some well designed printed magazine and enjoy it.
With the current overflow of images, I am fascinated to design something which is reduced to the basic. It’s always a big challenge to decide what’s important, in order to deliver the message and what can be deleted to make the message clearer.
What is your idea of happiness, Nora?
It doesn’t take much for me to be happy. I love enjoying the small things in life. Watching my flowers grow on the balcony, the smile of my son in the morning, the chats with my friends. At work happiness means freedom and independence. The freedom to choose which work I want to do, when I want to do it and with whom I want to work with. Also, the independence to be my own boss and to take all important decisions by myself.
And what is your idea of success?
To use my skills and to work with passion for every single customer, regardless if it’s a big and famous company or a very small unknown one. At the beginning of my business, people told me: “Print design is dead. If you want to be successful you need to do online advertising”. But I only want to do something which I am very passionate about and if I am doing it 200% and focus on it completely, there can‘t be anything wrong. It is going to be the right path.
How did you set up your graphic design business at the very beginning?
I started with one customer and the experience/skills of years of intensive advertising agency paid out. It came step by step without a detailed plan. All you need as a designer is a computer and the belief in your own skills. I just started and thought “let’s see how it goes”. And if I fail there will be a new option. Because there is never only one thing for you to achieve.
What are the skills that are particularly valued in your sector?
I know that most of my customers appreciate that I deliver my work within their deadline (and they are often very short), even if it’s an overnight project. I see my work as a service and I try to do everything I can by using my skills. To be creative under pressure and to listen very carefully to the requirements of the customer. Sometimes it is helpful to read between the lines and to bring this into the design without losing focus on selling the product.
If you look back, what was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
The biggest failure was not to listen to my guts and act against it. I used to regret that. Usually I know very well if a job or a client is a good match for me and my way of working. If that is not the case, I have to turn down the offer. Always. In my experience it is the best decision for both parties before any misunderstandings come up.
What was your biggest achievement and what did you learn from it?
To see my own designed advertising campaign for a famous real estate company printed on posters hanging around the whole city could be an example of one of my achievements. But for me success its not about the size of an assignment or the amount of money I earn. I once designed the label for the honey of a small beekeeper. Since it was published, I have received many requests from beekeepers to design their labels. This for me is a good example of successful design. I try to have fun with every job and to put passion in every little detail. At the end everyone is satisfied.
What motivated you to go through tough times?
If I find myself in difficult times, I get inspired by looking at the work of other designers on pinterest.com or behance.net. Seeing classy and minimalist design motivates me to try out new ways of designing. I start to learn, to develop my skills and to get better and better at the work that I am doing. I try to take criticism as a way of learning.
My dreams are motivating me as well. If there is a problem, it helps to sleep over it. One example was that I needed a very good idea for a campaign. I got a good night sleep and I dreamed my idea. The next day I could turn the dream into reality and design it.
One time I had a customer who didn’t like the layout of a brochure. In those cases I get help from my mentor, Britta. She is 20 years more senior and always there whenever I need professional advice. She has worked as a designer for over 30 years and a lot of experience. I get many suggestions from her and we always exchange our designs and discuss the positive and negative aspects. At the end, thanks to her advice, my brochure was successfully designed and the customer was happy.
Any suggestions you can provide to someone who wants to start their own design business?
Don’t be scared if your business doesn’t take off immediately. There are always ups and downs, every freelancer knows that. But mostly if you think that there is no way out, some new door will be opening and you can start with a better option.
It helps to listen very carefully to the customer, to read between the lines. Mostly the ideas will come while you chat with the customer. It’s also very important to build up a good network. Talk to people instead of sending them impersonal e-mails. Mostly it helps to get new assignments or new ideas on how you can get new projects.
———————Networking, confidence and effective communication with the customer are key for a freelance business to thrive. We provide a number of training and workshops to improve all these skills, let us know what you need!