Updated: Jul 4, 2022
I arrived on Sunday on a tightrope under the sun moving on automatic and not knowing what to expect.
One year ago today that I moved to Germany. I had 4 years of remote and home office work as a designer for an agency in Costa Rica. I could work from anywhere I wanted. I had freedom and I didn't know what to do with it.
Many people said to me: "how fortunate that graphic designers can work from anywhere."
It was true, I could work from wherever I wanted but I wasn't taking advantage of the flexibility of my job. I had wanted to try living in Europe for a long time, something was calling me there. So after much doubt and internal questioning, I made up my mind.
I told my boss at the time about my plan and she supported me despite the 8-hour time difference.
Finally, after much planning, June 20 arrived and I landed in Hamburg.
In the year that I have been here, I have grown immensely not only personally, mentally, and spiritually but also as a brand designer, illustrator, entrepreneur, and creative in general.
These are some of the things I have learned:
1. Latin designers have a lot to offer
At some point, I started looking for a job in Germany and I was scared to death. At some point in life, I started to think that everything in Europe was better, even the talent. And, that probably, because I didn't study at a European university the designers here were going to be better than me.
Well no, don't get me wrong, the talent here is impressive and the resources they have to develop their creative vision are immense. But that did not mean that my talent contributed less. After several emails with my resume and interviews, I got my first job as a designer. However, that business hit hard times and had to restructure so I had to start from scratch again.
However, I wasn't so scared anymore. I knew that my talent is enough and that I'm a designer with a lot of creativity. After a month of searching, I found a new job that I love and that allows me to give my brand studio Neige in Summer the time it deserves.
2. Starting from scratch
Speaking of starting from scratch, moving to Germany as a brand designer taught me how to network. In Guatemala (where I'm originally from), I already had a support network: friends of my parents, referrals from friends, referrals from university professors, people in my social circle, etc. But in Europe, I didn't have these options. People did not know my work and I did not know many people.
I had to learn to find clients in new ways and lose my shyness to sell my services to the new people I met along the way.
Little by little I have been making friends who start to know my work and refer me but I am also more clear that I must actively search for clients and create opportunities for myself.
3. Inspiration is everywhere
If there's one thing Europe loves, it's flea markets. An ocean of antiques and curiosities with which creativity can be fed for days.
In Hamburg and other places I've traveled to, I've been able to always find hidden treasures in the alleys of cities full of stories. I try to document everything and find ideas for brands, illustrations, videos, etc.
For me, it has been super enriching to live in a place full of little moments and images to cherish and add to my Imaginarium.
4. To the Root
Despite all the new things that my creativity has absorbed, it has been crucial for me to learn to maintain my authenticity and my roots.
The colors I use, and the way I design and communicate, represent a lot of who I am and my culture. It's essential to stay true to yourself and not lose what makes you unique by trying to fit in.
5. Learning to slow down
One of the things I have found most difficult is learning to relax.
The work culture in Europe is very different from Latin America. Here they value people's time and private lives more. And not to mention in summer when the sun appears, they even decide to leave the office earlier.
For a long time, I was in "survival mode" always thinking that if I relaxed for a moment I would lose opportunities to generate income. I was always doing more and more, adding as much weight as I could to my shoulders.
Here I have learned to close the work laptop at 5 o'clock and focus on other things that make me happy. I go out to the park for picnics, I can go for walks, and even take creative breaks during work hours.
I'm not going to lie, I still have a hard time letting go of my old habits of spending 10 hours in front of the computer working like a machine. But, I'm working on it. It's something that has helped my creative process and given me back my spark for designing.
So if you are designers or creatives and you are thinking about emigrating I tell you that, in my opinion, it is something worth trying.
It is not easy but it is a path that fills your eyes and soul with thousands of incredible experiences that enrich your creativity.
I say goodbye to continue celebrating my first year in Germany and I invite you to follow my blog and my Instagram (@neigeinsummer) for more content about design, freelance life, living in Europe, and much more.