Tell us about yourself.
I’m Juliette van Rhyn, I’m 37, and I work from my home studio (...my spare room) in Hackney, London. I’ve been a freelance graphic designer since 2019 and before that I was a textile designer for 10 years. I work on a pretty broad range of briefs, usually across print, illustration, and branding.
Which design topics are you most passionate about?
Is color a design topic? It will never stop being totally fascinating to me, and I hope I never stop getting a physical rush of excitement when I hit on a combination that really works. My background in textiles has a large part to play in my love of color. It has also shaped my approach to producing work that often feels decorative; I love that graphic design is about communicating ideas, but ultimately I still want to create something that is also just beautiful and uplifting to look at.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to do nothing quite a lot. As I get older I’ve come to realize how much time I need to recharge, and this often looks like me lying on the sofa listening to music and daydreaming. I used to think this was me being lazy, but I now see it as a vital part of being a creative person. We need time to go inward; incubate ideas without directly thinking about them; rest when we feel wiped out; be okay with feeling like we can’t turn the creative tap on; let our minds wander. The list goes on and I can’t overstate how important it is to me.
Share a project / exhibition / creative person / anything that you found recently and sparked your imagination.
A friend played Dead of Night by Orville Peck to me the other day and for love or money I can’t stop listening to it. It’s so atmospheric and a little mysterious, and whenever I play it I feel transported. Perfect daydreaming material. My second one is Natalie Du Pasquier’s 2020 exhibition BRIC in Modena, Italy. It’s an installation of seven large sculptural structures made from thousands of colorful glazed bricks. They appear almost architectural or somehow functional, and her expert use of color and form totally captures my imagination.
What’s the hardest thing about being a designer?
It’s always felt like a privilege to work in a creative field, and I sometimes can’t believe I get paid to do it. So I wouldn’t classify much of it as objectively hard compared to many other jobs. Although an aspect I do often find challenging is the rollercoaster of self doubt that can happen on almost any brief. It’s the ups and downs of feeling excited, then freaked out and incapable, then like you’ve totally nailed it, then coming back to it the next day and feeling like it’s dreadful. Then ultimately finishing on a high! And then a new brief comes in and the whole cycle begins again. It can be draining and you have to learn to surrender to the process, trust your skill, and tune out the doubt.
What’s the best thing about being a designer?
Discovering/researching new things that inspire me, and developing my skills each time I do a piece of work. It’s a constant process of uncovering what makes me excited, and gradually getting a little better at being able to express that visually.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
The Danish furniture company HAY. I love their designs and use of color; the simple, practical functionality and use of materials is totally up my street, and as someone obsessed with interiors this would be a real peach.
Describe your dream project.
Designing the visual identity and packaging for a wine bar/deli owned by people with great taste, who want to collaborate but ultimately trust my creative vision?! I love designing for hospitality, the clients are always so passionate, knowledgeable, and fun.
What's the best advice you've received (and from whom)?
‘Keep making’. From my brilliant tutor Hannah at university. It was in the context of me whining about being creatively stuck. She just said do more, it doesn’t have to be good but you do need to keep making work, if possible every day. Now I put it into practice by having a few personal projects on the go at all times; things I can dip in and out of whenever I feel stuck on client work, or if I have a sudden moment of inspiration. When it’s not for someone else you end up making weirder, more interesting work. You can afford to be more experimental and instinctual, and things certainly don’t have to be perfect. Loosening up in this way has made me a much stronger designer. It’s a worthy investment of time too, as the work I do for myself is the mainstay of what I post online and has led to almost all of my paid work. It’s the core of my practice and I couldn’t be a designer without it.
Thank you Juliette!