Each year we are lucky to welcome not only Danish students, but also a range of international students. A former international Graphics student Justas Cekauskas is today working as a graphic designer at Jack & Jones. In this interview he tells about himself, his job and gives good advices to students at UCN Design.
Due to company policy all illustrations shown in this post are Justas personal works.
Tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to study at UCN?
My name is Justas and I come from Klaipeda, a town on the coast of Lithuania, third biggest in the country. Currently I live in Aarhus. I have finished my Business Administration Bachelor degree and Masters degree in Marketing in Lithuania. I got interested in graphic design, when I was in my first university years and after finishing my education in Lithuania I felt that the world of graphic design was attracting me more. I knew that I had the experience working with design programs, but I felt that I was lacking the necessary theoretical knowledge to base my designs on. The current situation in my life pushed me to start new studies and do something different in my life. I wanted to study somewhere abroad, as I felt that graphic design education wasn’t that much developed and advanced in Lithuania, as for example in Denmark. Therefore I searched the web for universities in Europe, which would offer graphic design studies in English. Danish design has fascinated me for a long time, and I have never been in this country before. As a result, one thing let to another and soon I was sitting in the study rooms of UCN.
Tell us a about your job?
I work for the men’s clothing brand Jack & Jones (part of Bestseller, a family owned company) as a prints graphic designer, for the one of the four lifestyle lines – Premium. The official description of my job is – the development and innovation of the graphic expression on prints. Basically, I am doing the graphics for t-shirt prints and every little print that goes on shirts and t-shirts, ensure that the prints express our brand, the trends and make sure that they would be well received by the worldwide shops. We are making the t-shirts a year upfront, hence we have to think up ahead what is going to be trendy and popular in a specific season.
Talk us through a normal day at your job.
No day in the week is the same, we have busy weeks, and we have intensely busy weeks, especially before the presentation of the new collection. Some weeks are filled with design meetings, collection overview meetings, and some weeks are just doing graphics from morning to the end of work. However, the average day at work would be this:
The alarm goes of at 6.05 and it‘s being snoozed for at least 10 min. At 6.50 I catch a car with few of my colleagues and we drive about 55 min to work. The company offices are located in a little town of Brande, where they have been for years, together with most of other Bestseller brands. The work starts at 8 am with a cup of coffee and a knækbrød sandwich. I sit in a spacious office with 22 other colleagues. Then at around 9 am we have a design meeting to talk about our tasks for the week, deadlines, fashion trips etc. Afterward I usually do some t-shirt research on current trends, designs, colors and do designing with whether Photoshop or Illustrator until lunch break at 11.30. We then go to a buffet type large canteen, chose between fish or meat meal and then have a nice time not talking about work. After lunch I normally do more designing, with occasional design meetings with sales people, showing the newest graphics to other designers, commenting on the arrived graphic t-shirts and at 4.30 we all drive home.
How did you get your first job after graduating at UCN?
Right after graduating from UCN I got a short term (4 month) contract with a local transport company in Aalborg. I was invited to do brand brochures and a website redesign, after I did my last university exam for their company.
After the contract was over I was unemployed for more than half a year. It was a tough time sending tons of CV applications every week to different companies in Denmark. I was invited to few job interviews, but with no success. After half a year of searches, there was a job opening at Jack & Jones in Copenhagen. I wrote and got a negative answer. But then after a week I got a call inviting for a different position in Brande. I agreed, even though the distance was 200 km from Aalborg, where I lived at the time. I went through two part/two day interview and finally got the job. I moved to Brande, and after few moths of living there I moved to Aarhus.
What are the biggest challenges going from being a student to working as a professional designer?
As a student you are doing the designs based on your taste, on your ideas, you are not limited by your creative ways, your projects are not that limited by your imagination, there’s much more creative freedom. When you are working for one of the biggest clothing companies in Denmark, the pace is much faster and the biggest challenge is making the design that would strongly reflect the theme and the brand that has been shaped for decades. There are many things that you would like to make, create, design, but you always have to think about the end user and what he, as a Jack & Jones customer would wear, what his character could be, what his lifestyle is, what his day is like etc.
Do you have some good advices to students at UCN Design?
Stay current, stay curious, and never stop practicing whether it’s drawing, sketching, or digital drawing. You always learn something new by just doing random illustrations for yourself. Be interested and know what is going on in the current world of design and illustration, familiarize yourself with what is trendy and what is timely. Get inspired by other artists and try to find your own style. Be persistent and assiduous, even though you’ll get lot’s of negative answers, don’t give up and push even harder. Practice, share and don’t stop improving yourself.
You can see more of Justas great illustrations here