Q&A: Design, Dreams & a Transcontinental Journey

  • Categories:

    Agency Life, Creative, Inspiration

  • Date:

    March 22, 2022

Q&A: Design, Dreams & a Transcontinental Journey

Agency Life Creative Inspiration

Growth is an integral aspect of all careers — after all, how can we expect to move up the ladder or experience new things without growth? The best companies and cultures foster this growth from within, recruiting talented people and giving them the tools to succeed and flourish. Many of these individuals become talented leaders, and the cycle begins anew, creating an environment that not only encourages growth but also generates it.

Wray Ward’s own Ida Osterman is a testament to the power of growth at a single company. In 2018, the designer came to the United States from Stockholm, Sweden, to study media design at Queens University of Charlotte and compete on the school’s triathlon team.

Already passionate about drawing and art before she started college, Ida has cultivated her talent within and outside of the classroom. In 2021, she earned a coveted spot in Wray Ward’s FORM internship program. Once the program ended in August, she stayed on with the agency as an apprentice, working closely with our Creative team to tell our clients’ stories.

How does Ida balance school and sports with a design apprenticeship at Wray Ward? What has she learned along the way? I sat down with this promising creative to learn about that and more.

Q: How did you discover Wray Ward’s FORM internship program?

Queens [University] requires us to complete an internship. Although I already had two experiences from Sweden, I heard about FORM from classmates and was interested. Lots of people know about it, and it has a very good reputation. The first time I applied in 2020, the program was actually canceled due to the pandemic. However, I heard back the following year and accepted.

Q: How would you describe FORM?

I think of it as a mini-agency within the larger agency. We had our own clients and worked with them throughout the internship while being exposed to all aspects of the agency life. Our team was very collaborative, with nine interns in different departments. Everyone was very welcoming, and it was really nice to be on a team with multiple people in the same situation.

Interacting with the different departments and disciplines gave me lots of perspective. Each discipline is like a piece of the puzzle.

Q: What did you learn from FORM?

I learned to collaborate with and learn from people in other fields. I learned that we’re all on the same journey. Teamwork can make you a lot stronger at your own job.

During my internship, I worked on multiple rebrands, created graphics for blogs, helped with Instagram and other social media platforms, and so much more. The rebrands were the biggest projects I worked on, and I learned those could be stressful, especially with so many deliverables in a short period. However, my advisor encouraged me to ask questions and reminded me that I’m here to learn. She also helped me adapt to feedback from others.

Besides growing my design skills, I learned how to become an effective collaborator and team member. One of my first meetings at Wray Ward was a brainstorm session with a client, and [VP and Executive Creative Director] John Roberts said something that stuck with me:

“It doesn’t matter how strange or unattached your idea might be. It may help spark a solution in somebody else’s mind.”

That was heartening to hear early in the program. If even an intern can feel noticed and valued, that means a lot.

Q: What was it like moving from an internship to your design apprenticeship?

Being a design apprentice is similar in many ways to being an intern, but it’s more in depth. I like to think of it like a smorgasbord — a taste of everything.

As an apprentice, you get involved in longer projects and see more of the process. While working on one of these larger projects for a client, I realized that I was using my passion for illustration in a work environment. It was fun to realize that I can apply my strengths and interests to real scenarios and expand my tool kit in the process.

Being an apprentice has also given me room to grow and make some mistakes, but because I have support from my team, I know it’s okay to do that. It’s all right to fail as long as you stay curious and learn from your mistakes.

Q: How has working at Wray Ward affected your experience as a student?

My internship and apprenticeship have completely changed how I view school. They’ve given me a different perspective on my postgraduation expectations and needs. Working at Wray Ward has helped me see the reality of deadlines and expectations in the real world.

I also view school projects differently now. I sometimes used to wonder why we were given certain assignments, but now I understand what we’re working toward. I have higher standards for myself after doing real work in the industry. I always try to share that experience with my classmates.

Q: What lesson has surprised you the most?

Design is not just visuals. A lot of thinking and strategy go into it. My background in media design and studio art have helped take my projects to another level, and my philosophy studies have shown me how understanding people’s intentional approach to tasks helps you see their reasoning. When you have the tools, you can always use them. Still, I don’t think you’re ever a finished product — you should always ask questions and stay curious.

When I see other work, I get inspired. I want my work to inspire people in the same way. Creating and design are not only about you — they’re about so many other people too. That’s what makes our work meaningful. I’m surprised by how inspiration creates a wheel where everyone is empowering one another, becoming collectively stronger. Being in the Wray Ward office and around collaborative people helps a lot with that inspiration and energy as well.

Q: Have you noticed any major changes in the world of design throughout your internship, apprenticeship and studies?

I’m not sure if this is new or if it’s always been this way, but social platforms for sharing art and projects are getting more popular, increasing access for designers to learn. People are becoming much more open about sharing their processes.

Design is also becoming more interactive, especially when it comes to user experience — everything has to move now. With how short attention spans are today, being captivating is crucial. Design is a game of grabbing attention. If I remember a design that I saw, it’s a good project — but if I go back to that design and engage with it in some way, it’s a great project.

Q: Where do you want your experiences to take you? How will you use them to grow?

I always want to be in a place where I have the ingredients needed to flourish. When you’re in the right place, you know it in your gut. To me, my future career isn’t so much a place or specific job — it’s about the lifestyle and culture. That being said, I’ve found the things that drive me to do great design work at Wray Ward: a passionate and supportive community, positive work culture, opportunities for training and growth, work-life balance and a sense of challenge. The different people and disciplines here are stimulating and push me to grow.

Q: Do you have any advice for those interested in FORM or careers in design?

Two things come to mind.

First, don’t be afraid of asking questions, and embrace the process. Value the journey, not the end goal. I think of my triathlon experience here: The progress gets you there, while questions help shape that process.

Second, it’s important to be true to who you are. Feeling you can be yourself means you’re in a good place.

Wray Ward is no longer accepting applications for the 2022 edition of FORM, but you can learn more about the internship program or explore our open positions.

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