What led you into design?
In my primary school times, I drew Charizards and Jiggly Puffs for my classmates — a way to express myself and my love for game design and digital interfaces at this age. Throughout the years, I got into creative fields like graphic design, typography, art, and fashion. These all sparked my interest to study design.
Despite my parents having no idea what design entailed, they allowed me to study Graphic Design in Rotterdam. That’s where I got to know all things print and packaging. Since my passion for the digital world grew, I pursued a bachelor’s degree in UX/Interaction Design right after. A time in which I learned a lot about human behaviour on digital touchpoints, web design, and programming.
Now, I’m Digital Design Lead at Verve guiding a team of five digital designers in closing the gap between branding and design.
What does a typical day look like?
I can’t get going without a cup of coffee, a hot shower, and my favourite techno waking me up.
Every workday is different. Some days are full of meetings and other days I deep-dive into projects. At 1 pm, we have lunch with the whole team, play Mario Kart, and go on walks with our studio dog Yuki. My afternoons are often spent catching up with the digital team, providing feedback, or presenting work to clients.
What's your workstation setup?
Where do you go to get inspired?
I get inspired by taking my mind off of work. We get overloaded with content all day and night — addicted to the endless scrolling. Taking a little ‘brain break’ helps me to reboot and think clearly, gain new perspectives, and creates the headspace to find inspiration from unexpected places.
My best ideas come when I step out of the design bubble. No Pinterest or Behance: you’ll just see the same designs over and over. It blocks my creativity.
Instead, I get inspired by my friends, electronic music, clubs and nightlife, art, design books, travelling, and watching anime. Klikkentheke is my go-to for staying up to date on what’s happening in the design landscape.
What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
I admire David Rudnick’s work. He’s a graphic designer with a background in art history and philosophy. His latest project Tomb Series, a web3 project with an emphasis on physical media, is my definition of art.
The project consists of 177 unique works that appear both as digital objects (NFTs) and as physical objects in a book format called Tomb Index, which I proudly own a copy of.
With this project, David is trying to create value in both digital and physical formats simultaneously, rejecting the idea that the future should either be entirely in service to the virtual value or entirely in opposition to it. It’s a refreshing perspective. Truly inspiring.
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
Might sound cliché, but I’m truly proud of all the work we create at Verve. The talented team is packed with passion and energy to create the best (digital) experiences for the client, their brand, and their audience.
Though, if I had to choose a favourite, it’d be the NLIX rebranding. We went wild with a retro gaming theme, which ended up being a visual language close to my heart.
NLIX is the backbone of our digital infrastructure. It lends its network services to the likes of Google, TikTok, and eBay. Because the galaxy of the internet offers possibilities beyond human imagination, we embraced the exciting sci-fi aesthetics and used them to our advantage.
My inner child still gets excited seeing this sci-fi interface with vintage gaming references come to life. You can check out the case study here.
What design challenges do you face at your company?
We’re trying to navigate our speed of growth. Our team has very big ambitions and grows bigger and projects every few months.
We’re constantly optimizing our processes to improve our way of working and create the best possible output. Sometimes it feels like we’re building a plane whilst flying, but that feeling of exploring the unknown really has something to it.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Any advice for ambitious designers?
As a designer, you might struggle to be creative due to deadlines, feedback, and perhaps a lack of creative freedom. Setting up a work environment where you can comfortably play around is the key to staying creative. Put on your favourite song, have a laugh, and good ideas will start flowing.
Surround yourself with creative people, but remain open-minded toward people outside the creative field. It’ll help you understand what people are saying, or what they need to hear. Great communication improves the quality of your designs.
Anything you want to promote or plug?
Keep an eye on my Instagram @sarah.de.jager to see what I’m up to. Follow @verveatheagency to see more work from the Verve team.