Lithuanian multimedia creative Asta Ostrovskaja just finished her internship in Sweden at SNASK design studio, where among others she’d worked on the rebranding of North Korea. To get to know Asta better, read our interview, in which she talks about her career choice, work routine and current plans!
Most kids are dreaming about their future profession very early on. What about you?
I’ve always loved to draw and create since I was a child, and I don’t remember being bored, I was always doing something. I tried my creative abilities in music, theatre, and writing. I also concentrated on visual arts in my late teenage years when I started art school.
What made you dive into the world of design?
I started my visual career in the design industry as an illustrator at a magazine ironically named ‘Pravda’ when I was sixteen years old. It was a monthly magazine analysing controversial topics about contemporary life. For four years I had been drawing illustrations of Vilnius’s streets. This project was finalised by releasing a book entitled Vilnius 37 C. It features 37 weird and funny stories accompanied by illustrations of Vilnius’s extraordinary streets.
Besides gaining experience in the design industry at quite a young age, you also studied at the Vilnius Academy Of Arts. Please tell us about your years there.
I studied graphics and printmaking for two years, and later I switched to sculpture and fine arts. Thanks to that shift, I was able to expand my field of work to more tactile environment and 3D. This really helps me in my work nowadays that is – as a multimedia creative – I can work in different fields, and I can easily find the right medium for every project.
That sounds great. I’m wondering: What is the best advice you have ever received at the university?
Every advice has its time, one can say that each of them helps you in different periods of time, so I would say there is no universal advice I could recall. I like quoting songs, books, movies, cartoons, friends or comedians. When I or someone else in my life needs any kind of advice, I usually tell a funny or weird story related to it. Like this one: I lived in Berlin for a while, and one night, when we went out, we couldn’t get into one venue, because it was overcrowded. One of my friends turned to me and said: ‘If we had to teach you something about Berlin, it would be that every place has another entrance.’ So we got inside through the ventilation tube.
You lived in Berlin and Stockholm for a while, however, I’d like to ask you about your native country now. Lithuanian designer Tomas Laurinavicius said in an interview that ‘both countries (Hungary and Lithuania) are relatively young in the [design] industry but are doing incredible progress, meaning becoming more open-mined and global. I would say design in both countries is evolving and influenced mostly by Western culture.’ How would you describe the state of design in your country?
Both of these Eastern European countries were inevitably influenced by the Soviets. When this influence mixes with Western culture, it creates a unique environment both countries can really benefit from in terms of visual development. In my opinion, Western culture had greater influence during the Pre-Internet Era, but today quality and unique approaches are more important than geographical location in all fields.
It can be a milestone in one’s life to overcome a challenge that has prevented one from moving forward in his or her professional life before. Have you ever encountered such hindrance in your career?
I usually try to laugh it off! A milestone turns into this immovable obstacle if you concentrate on it or try to blame it for whatever situation you are in. A couple of times I tried to blame myself, others or – even worse – the circumstances for some missed opportunities, but it didn’t work out. I just felt that I was wasting my time, and I’m not that type of a person who enjoys that.
You have shown your talent in both craft and digital work. Do you prefer one before the other?
I love combining different media as well as being able to find the right technique for every project that I’m working on. I’m a curious person, which really helps me when I want to find the right technique for the visuals.
One might say you’ve developed a special bond with paper and scissors. Is paper your favourite material to give a physical shape to your ideas?
I like paper, and I like to draw. I usually start developing all my ideas on paper. If it works on paper with pencil, it will work using any media. I often use paper and scissors to give the illustrations some depth and tactile qualities. This gives some additional intrigue to the visuals.
How do you get into the mood of creation?
‘Waiting for the inspiration to come’ is a fancy expression for laziness and procrastination. I don’t have this romantic approach to creation, I am not waiting for a muse or inspiration to come. I always have at least three different projects to work on, so if I have the luxury to say ‘I’m not in the mood of working on one of them’, I can easily switch to work on another.
Which project of yours are you the most proud of, and why?
It would be hard to pick any specific project. I’m proud of most of the work I’ve done – even of those in which I can see my mistakes. I see them as important lessons that helped me to strengthen my creative skills.
That is a great attitude to have! You realise both commercial and individual projects. What are the main differences between these two types of work from a designer’s point of view?
None – for me at least. Most of my clients have a creative approach to their products, and we get along well while searching for the right solution.
What are you working on right now?
I just finished my internship atSNASK design studio in Stockholm. I spent three months there, and I got enough inspiration and creative fuel to search for exciting projects to work on. During my time there we rebranded North Korea. We decided to rename the country to Love Korea, and we also gave the country the identity for free – as long as the country proves that it’s a democracy. Now I’m back in Vilnius for some time, and I am working on several projects in various visual fields: music videos and artworks, public art and, of course, graphic design.
What are your plans?
To finish some projects I’ve been postponing for a while and find interesting topics to work on. In addition to that, to learn something new! This has always been in my plans: It may be a new language or a new skill.