Tag Archives: Graphic Design

Graphic Designer Suzy van der Velden on becoming industry leader

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Suzy van der Velden

There is a saying in Dutch that goes “Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg” that roughly translates to “Just act normal, then you’re already silly enough.” Suzy van der Velden has always embraced this mentality. Originally from the small town of Limmen in the Netherlands, she had a passion for creating in a place where there was not a lot of arts and culture. Despite this, van der Velden could not hold back her desire to create, and her artistic instincts quickly took hold. From a young age, she would sit behind her desk and draw, and slowly drawing transformed into design.

Now, van der Velden is a leading Dutch graphic designer. She is internationally sought-after working with some of the world’s biggest brands. However, she did not always know graphic design would be where her creative predisposition would lead her. From the time she was a young teenager, van der Velden found herself interested in fashion. However, it was not until her work with the Dutch company Oilily that van der Velden realized she could combine her interests.

“I see myself as a problem solver. More than anything I’m trying to find an aesthetically pleasing solution, through the use of all sorts of media, to solve a problem or need. I have talks with myself whenever I’m working on something on how to achieve the best result. One day nothing might happen and the solution seems far away, and the next day it just pops in my head and I know exactly how to handle something. In my work, I don’t tend to stick to one type of media so I’m constantly learning and thinking of new ways to come to innovative results. Often it feels like my job is all about balance and how to reach that balance. Next to the technical side of things I hope my work as a graphic designer adds that extra joy or connection to a product,” she said.

During her time at Oilily, van der Velden quickly rose up the ladder, impressing both customers and colleagues with her talent. She designed a wide range of artwork for both the Women’s, Kids, and Toddler lines. She worked to bring the themes alive through allovers prints, placement graphics, embroideries, engineered prints and trims. She was also a part of both the ‘Oilily Summer of Love’ and the Fall collections that were shown at the Amsterdam Fashion Week of 2009.

It wasn’t long after this when van der Velden’s reputation became extremely reputable in her home country, and she went to work at sporting wear brand O’Neill. O’Neill is originally Californian surf wear and surfboard brand started in 1952 by Jack O’Neill. The company produces wetsuits, performance water and snow sports inspired apparel for young adults. The products are distributed internationally to 86 countries worldwide.

While with the iconic company, van der Velden managed all the artwork that included swimwear, active wear, lifestyle and snow wear. She was part of a global design team that created art that would be placed on products throughout the entire world. She directed and groomed lower level designers to grow and enhance their skills. She also took on the highly important role of emphasizing the importance of making unique artwork for specific regions around the globe some including Australia, Japan and Germany, helping to increase sales in these countries with her work.

“Suzy was part of the creative team, where she was responsible for all the graphics, allover patterns and presentations for each new seasonal collection for the women’s, swim, apparel and snow line. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with Suzy, and came to know her a as a truly valuable asset to absolutely any team. She is an incredibly hard worker, honest and dependable. Beyond that she is a very inspiring, creative person who always delivers the results. Along with her undeniable talent, Suzy was always an absolute joy to work with. Her knowledge of sportswear and casual wear, and her expertise on creating artworks from scratch, her color use and feel and her skill-set on printing technique were all huge contributions. She is very independent and always had a secret box of unexpected, new and original ideas,” said Mareine van Beek, Senior Designer Swim/Lifestyle Women & Girls at O’Neill.

After years of creating dynamic imagery for O’Neill, van der Velden caught the attention of Lululemon, a Canadian athletic apparel retailer. It is a yoga-inspired athletic apparel company and a designer and retailer of technical athletic apparel. The company makes a number of different types of athletic wear, including performance shirts, shorts, and pants, as well as lifestyle apparel and yoga accessories. It is extremely popular around the world, and working for the company was the highlight of van der Velden’s esteemed career.

After being headhunted for the role, van der Velden moved from the Netherlands to Vancouver to work for the brand, helping them revolutionize their look. With the company’s shift to reach a more youthful and progressive demographic, van der Velden’s versatile skillset came into play. Due to her great artwork and design aesthetic, she works on the global design team as Senior Graphic Designer for both the men’s and women’s divisions. Since her employment, the company has acknowledged the success of her design artwork and has increased her number of designs to grow the overall business. She was also a part of a select design team that traveled to Switzerland to create a small collection in collaboration with Europe’s leading supplier of technical embroideries. On top of this, she was also chosen with an exclusive group to travel to a Lululemon retail store in Toronto to give a detailed product presentation when the first collection with the new aesthetic was launched. The company has grown and advanced in their overall design aesthetic largely due to the success of van der Velden’s artwork and design theory.

Her role with the company is absolutely essential. Not only does she design, she brings on new team members and trains them to follow in her footsteps. For those looking to do so outside of Lululemon, she offers important advice.

“Go for it. It’s hard work, but the joy you get from it pays off. Try and work as free as you can to discover new ways of working. Take a look at other graphic designers if you don’t know where to start and go from there. It’s a very specific job and chances are that if you don’t become the best in your field it might be hard to stay in the game. Therefore, you have to keep practicing and experimenting. See where and how you can push the limits to come to new solutions,” she advised.

And with a career like hers, we can all assume that van der Velden’s guidance will be fruitful.

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The Golden Girl of Advertising: Producer Susie Liu

Susie Liu
Advertising Producer Susie Liu shot by Robin Gaultier

Advertising ace Susie Liu knows everything there is to know about marketing. That’s because she has immense experience working hand-in-hand with clients – including titans of industry and Fortune 500 companies – to formulate strategies and campaigns specifically tailored to their needs. However, Liu has the added edge of having spent years as an artist, personally creating, drafting and implementing creative concepts to meet the needs of those clients.

“At a young age, I always gravitated towards anything visual or creative,” she said. “As I grew up, I enjoyed spending time in my own company, drawing on paper and eventually on the computer. I looked at ways to improve magazine articles and advertisements, and changed the style to my own liking by recreating visuals on the computer.”

Starting out with ZONE, a cutting-edge advertising production firm based in London, as a digital artist, her incredible talent helped her quickly move up through team leadership positions, and ultimately to the role of content advertising producer.

Prior to her work with ZONE, Liu worked with Wordsearch, a design and advertising company specializing in real estate advertising. In her time at Wordsearch, Liu applied her managerial and artistic skills to massive undertakings such as The Shard in London, One World Trade Center in Manhattan and the ambitious Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The iconic One World Trade Center, completed in 2013, was built as a testament to American resilience after the destruction of the previous towers on September 11, 2001. However, beyond its symbolism and status as the tallest building in the western hemisphere, it is a financial and economic hub in the busiest city in the U.S., and as such it was critical that such a costly and labor-intensive project attract the maximum possible amount of renters, businesses and investors. That’s where Wordsearch and Liu came in.

“I was involved with the creative art-working as well as the management of the print production. It was imperative to be organized and have a structure from the start,” Liu said. “It was my role to organise and ascertain from the briefs how long each element would take to execute and deliver in a timely manner.”

The Shard skyscraper in London, the tallest building in the European Union at a fifth of a mile high, is another of Liu’s most monumental projects. Completed in 2012, The Shard relied on the creative mind of Liu and her team at Wordsearch to attract tenants such as Al Jazeera, Gallup, and the five star Shangri-La Hotel, who have all made the magnificent work of art-in-architecture their home.

 “The objective was to entice companies, investors and the sale of residential apartments into this new living, working and social space by demonstrating what was on offer and how it would look once complete,” Liu said. “This campaign was worked on by a team of designers, art directors, Project Managers and myself as a Production Manager, which involved the creative art-working and design of the technical brochures, as well as managing the production on all the other work.”

Liu also helped draw tenants and investors with her campaign for Masdar City, the eco-friendly metropolis currently in development and construction in Abu Dhabi. Built in the desert of the Arabian peninsula, the arcology – or “architecture/ecology” – city is founded on the principles of responsible environmental practices. Featuring a fleet of clean energy and electric vehicles in lieu of personal commuter vehicles, operating on solar and wind energy, and carefully designed with walls, streets and building meant to maximize the cooling power of the desert wind in the hostile region, Masdar City is what many climate scientists and environmentalists envision as the responsible future for humanity.

“Wordsearch was approached by the Masdar client to adapt its existing brand and produce a series of printed and digital marketing literature to entice people into this new, not yet built city. Over a period of 2 years, the requirements were to design and produce magazines, brochures, advertising, leaflets, internal forms, point of sale, exhibition stands/space (WFES), marketing suites, banners, computer generated images and a website,” she said of the intensive process. “The idea was to entice people and investors into this eco-city by demonstrating what was on offer and how it would look when the city would be finished.”

While working for Hogarth Worldwide, a multinational company that specializes in marketing implementation and centralized advertising production for clients worldwide, Liu helped ensure the success of the HTC One ad campaign.

“This was a global campaign that was rolled out to a very tight deadline and within strict security restrictions,” Liu said. “Our job included the translation and localization of all literature in up to 40 languages, and the creation of a variety of advertisements, both point of sale and signage.”

With such an impressive array of clients and projects under her belt, it’s no small surprise that Liu has become one of the most sought after players in the global advertising and marketing fields. With her immense creative and artistic talents surpassed only by her managerial skills and her ability to oversee teams working on large-scale campaigns, she is truly a master of the trade.