Interview with Lisa Pepita Weiss
Interview with the graphic designer and art director Lisa Pepita Weiss.
DM: Hello Lisa, how are you?
LW: I had to catch the 6 o’clock flight at airport Berlin Schönefeld – there are certainly more comfortable ways to start the day, but apart from this small detail, I am great and looking forward to spending the weekend at Art Basel.
DM: Can you introduce yourself?
LW: I grew up in Winterthur. After my studies of Visual Communications at Zürcher Hochschule der Künste ZHdK, I wound up in Berlin. I originally planned to stay only a couple of months for an internship at NODE Berlin Oslo. But as it turns out, I have been living here for eight years, and I feel at home in this inspiring and friendly-snotty metropolis.
After my internship at NODE, I followed a two-pronged approach for a couple of years: I worked part-time as a permanent employee at the brand agency Stan Hema as well as a self-employed designer with my own commissions and clients. Ultimately, I decided to work fulltime on an independent basis. I founded my own design studio Land April with a colleague, but we liquefied our business after about three years. Two of the favorite projects I was able to realize during that time are the corporate design in print and web for the Swiss restaurant “Fritz Lambada” and the image billboard campaign in five colors for Salzhaus Winterthur.
Since the liquidation of my design studio, I have been working as a self-employed designer and art director for clients in Germany and Switzerland. I am mainly commuting between Berlin and Zurich, but sometimes I also like to move my mobile office to another city like Barcelona or to the Portuguese countryside for a couple of weeks. I enjoy the freedom of not being tied to a specific place to work. I like working in teams and co-working in projects with designer friends. I worked on an art catalog for Vienna-based artist Maureen Kaegi together with designer Eve Hübscher, for example.
Simultaneously, I from time to time work on exciting projects as a freelancer, mainly in arts and culture. Since the beginning of 2018, I have been teaching “Digital Design” at Lette Verein Berlin.
DM: Where does your interest in design come from?
LW: Both my parents being architects, I grew up in a design-oriented environment and noticed at an early age that I would like to do something with design. This creative urge remained somewhat vague during my adolescent years, and I tried out a lot of things to let off steam art-wise. My grand aunt Rosmarie Tissi, though, provided the deciding inspiration for graphic design and my decision to study visual communication. She remains a role model, not only as a successful designer with her agency O&T but as a strong woman.
DM: Would you like to talk about one of your recent projects?
LW: Sure! I’d like to tell you about a current independent project of mine: Thrilled by anti-aesthetics, I started taking close-up pictures of food ads on fast-food-restaurants and snack bars. Their hidden, accidental abstract beauty – caused by weather conditions or unprofessional, amateurish execution – fascinates and delights me.
So far, I indulged in this project mainly via my Instagram-account, which I maintain under my pseudonym, Pepita Gonzales. In the framework of the group exhibition #Coucoukunst, running during the music festival Winterthurer Musikfestwochen, four photos will be presented for the first time as large-size prints in an open-air environment.
I am glad that those photos taken in exterior places now, through detours, will find a way back into the urban landscape. Conserved in super-glossy laminating foil, they quote their origins as menus.
DM: What was your most challenging project to manage and design?
LW: Ooh – concerning my commissions, this must remain a secret :-) But I am currently working on my new website and perceive it as a very challenging task. I confirm the cliché, as I am my own most demanding and annoying client. Finding a way to present yourself in the best possible way is tough. Other contracts and commissions take priority, apparently, so it is difficult for me to find the necessary time to consecrate myself to this project, which is why I keep putting it off. But I will hopefully crack this tough nut in the coming months. Stay tuned!
DM: How challenging is to be a freelance designer today?
LW: Working in graphic design, no matter if on a self-employed basis or as a freelancer, indeed is a tough place. Especially in Berlin, a city home to a gazillion creatives, sporting the motto “poor, but sexy” and giving the impression you can live off nothing but air and love. Even after ten years of professional experience, I encounter people who confuse my profession with a hobby, merely because I love my job and am passionate about it. So, I must explain to them again and again why my design services call for adequate financial compensation. But this experience teaches you to deliberately reject orders. You learn to say: “Fuck you. Pay me.”
I went through various working models over the past couple of years, and it took a lot of different experiences to find the right way for me – but I am currently pleased and can say I found a pretty much perfect mode of self-employment for myself.
I like the flexibility and autonomy provided by working on a self-employed basis. I love to be location-independent and to work in different constellations and teams. The variety of clients, who I provide with services from A to Z, freelance gigs letting me hop on projects for specific commissions, as well as my teaching job, prevent a dull routine. I like that! And hell yeah, I can live on what I earn!