by Felicitas Lenz
Felicitas is currently obtaining her second degree at the art academy in Maastricht. During her years of studying she has often felt insecure about the future, just like many people in the field. How do you start out? What does Maastricht have to offer for young art academy graduates? How do you work with passion but don’t starve?
She decided to speak to young creatives who have, opposing the stereotypical Maastricht student, based themselves in the area after their studies.
Join her in hearing stories of success and failure, getting pep talks and here and there some disillusioning grown-up advice.
Hello Lynn, thanks for having us! Tell us a little about yourself!
Hey, I’m Lynn, I’m 29 and have been living in Maastricht for 8 years now. I studied graphic design and photography at the art academy, so more or less the visual communication department, which I liked. For the rest, I’m a big plant and tea lover and I really like fashion and Scandinavia.
Why did you originally come to Maastricht?
I’m originally from Geleen, which is located about 15 minutes from Maastricht. It’s the city where I grew up, but I didn’t like it since it is very small and boring.
After high school, when I was 17, I went to study at Sint Lucas in Boxtel and obtained a degree in styling. I still lived in Geleen, so I had 3 hours of travelling daily. The train hours were nice though since they calmed me down.
After graduating from Sint Lucas I went to study at the art academy in Maastricht and decided it was time to grow up and live on my own. Back then I found my first home in Malberg, on the outskirts of Maastricht.
When you started your studies in Maastricht, did you know what you wanted to do?
No, to be honest, at first, my plan was to not study anymore and just go to Iceland for 6 months. At some point in May, right before my graduation in June, I suddenly realised that I had no idea what to do with my life and decided to do another study. I applied for the art academy in Maastricht, since I did like the city a lot. When I was accepted I just thought ‘Well, Maastricht it’s gonna be.’.
So no, I didn’t really have a plan in mind, but just enjoyed working creatively and was ready for a new environment and making new friends.
A lot of students feel quite stressed when the end of their studies is approaching. Tell us about your graduation year, can you relate to this pressure?
Yes, a lot. Especially since all my classmates were already busy with plans for their graduation a year before I even had decided on a topic. The funny thing is that the topic somehow found me. In my graduation year, I was in Stockholm for 6 months. Somewhere in December, I realised I only had half a year left for my graduation work but still hadn’t come up with a topic. And while I loved being in Scandinavia, I was constantly ill. There was nothing serious going on, but I had a constant cold and headaches.
Whenever I went to visit home, the Netherlands, the complaints were gone. At the end of the year, I realised that I was suffering from homesickness. So I decided to work with that.
During my research I came across the German word ‘Fernweh’, which describes the longing for a place far away and the urge to travel the unknown. It confused me because I also know this feeling too well.
After all, I made this inner fight, the fight between ‘Heimweh’ (homesickness) and Fernweh, the topic of my graduation work.
This also led to me calling my little design studio ‘Studio Fernweh’.
What were your first steps (and jobs) after graduation?
After graduation, I immediately got a job at caramel as a graphic designer. It was nice but I noticed quite fast that I had to keep myself busy with different kinds of tasks to avoid getting bored. Working in graphic design or photography alone wouldn’t make me happy, even though I love doing both.
I founded ‘Studio Fernweh’, which allows me to do many different things from styling to photography. Besides that, I worked at Traders Pop and Muchachas, which are clothing shops in Maastricht. Completely relying on my own business makes me feel quite unsafe. The combination of working for someone else, and therefore having a monthly paycheck, and being my own boss was sometimes quite a lot to handle but it was a nice compromise. I still wanted more though.
Where do you work now and how did you end up at your current job?
My current main job is at Fee, a beautiful concept store with a coffee bar in Sittard, owned by Chrissy and Angela. I have known Chrissy since I was thirteen because we were both very gothic. One day I had to edit the results of a wedding photo shoot and got bored doing that at home, so I went to sit in the little cafe at Fee. Angela joined me and started asking a lot of questions about my future plans, which I found a little suspicious. Right after that Chrissy took me for a walk and told me that Angela was pregnant and they wanted me to join the team.
I still had the job at Muchachas and Traders Pop, which I loved, but it also meant I was merely working in sales. Fee gave me the opportunity to combine sales with my degree. Currently, I get to do styling, photography, graphic design and be a saleswoman. I run the social media channels and sell beautiful items in a lovely environment. And make great coffee of course.
Bringing in my photography and design skills is something I wasn’t able to do at Traders Pop and I was definitely missing it.
Looking back Angela or Chrissy probably would’ve called me anyway, but it still feels like a little coincidence that I was just sitting there and they said ‘We need you!’.
Your most recent baby is called Wonderwoud. What is it and how did it come to life?
Wonderwoud was actually born at Fee. My colleague Sonja and I were standing in the café and discussing how to change the styling of the store. We thought about getting some green into the store and she said ‘We should start a company and sell plans!’. The whole concept and the name were born within 15 minutes. We sent an email to our bosses, who were really enthusiastic. One week later we started selling plants.
Many of our clients love plants but don’t enjoy the process of planting. We love to get our hands dirty and be covered in mud. Therefore we find out which specific care our babies need, plant them and sell perfectly ready plants in beautiful plant pots. Oh and we use biological soil, great selling point!
Where do you distribute your plants?
We started selling at Fee but also found a second shop in Maastricht. It’s a little Korean design store called Hae. I really like the owner Audrey and the products she offers, so I am very happy with that choice. A week after we started selling at Hae we got a call from a design shop in the Minckelerstraat. So by now, Wonderwoud is represented by 3 stores.
When you look back on the years since graduation, do you remember a moment of failure which had a big impact on you? If so, please share!
Oh yes, oh god. When working as a photographer at a wedding and suddenly my SD card broke. It was at night during the last 30 minutes of the party when suddenly my camera couldn’t read it anymore. This, of course, meant that I had lost all wedding photos of which I hadn’t made a backup yet. An absolute nightmare. Somehow I managed to keep smiling until I left the wedding, but started crying on my way home.
Luckily my computer was still able to read the SD card, so it was all fine in the end, but I made the decision to never work as a wedding photographer again. The pressure is insane. And I always back up everything right away. At least I learned from it.
Do you have any advice for people who feel pressured and insecure after graduation?
Just let it happen. You can’t estimate where life will take you. Feeling insecure after graduation, especially in the art and design field, is normal. Everyone is a newbie and everyone is scared when starting out.
Just try to stay calm and follow your intuition; the best tool you have. Failure is normal and it happens, but it makes you stronger.
Oh yes and get a side job, that’s pretty necessary. You still need to eat and pay rent after all.
Terrible question, I’m sorry, but where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
Exactly where I am right now. (laughs) Yea, that’s a very short answer.
Last week my boss asked me the same question, but right now I’m just happy.
Of course bigger assignments for Studio Fernweh would be cool, but I don’t need them to feel good about myself or what I’m doing.
Beautiful closing statement! Thank you for the insightful talk and the amazing apple crumble!
For further information about Lynn’s projects:
Studio Fernweh: https://www.facebook.com/studiofernweh/