“Perhaps my approach was not quite the CMD way of learning, but what really worked for me during my studies was visiting networking events at companies and getting to know people. Sometimes you have to cheat a little.” This ‘cheat’ is Marten Kuipers. Art Director at DEPT® (a leading international design agency) and CMD LWD alumnus.
“As a student, stories from alumni impressed me the most. That really opened my eyes. Is that possible?! How did this person do this? It was nice to get these insights. That was inspiring, made me want more.”
For eight weeks, Marten went to just about every talk or meetup in Amsterdam with a fellow student. Almost every day, from Groningen. On weekends and evenings. Why? “Because we both just really liked it. It’s not like we wanted to avoid school, but there’s so much more tout there than just school. It is also good to look beyond the walls of NHL Stenden. We applied everything we learned from this in our projects. A very nice interaction.”
“I regularly worked late to finish something. Then I got reactions that I don’t understand to this day. For example: “Don’t be so serious, it’s just a school project.” My thought that this could be my best project ever was right! Actually, the four years at CMD were mainly time to work on my portfolio and build a network. I’ve stretched the rules a bit for that. Within the minor Entrepreneurship, for example. I wanted to set up my own office there with a fellow student. But it was required that it was focused on a unique market. Many of the other students in the minor at that time were working on a startup or a product to sell. So we just said that we were going to focus on startups. Five minutes later we had an approved plan and we were able to release it.
European credits Portfolio.
The currency of HBO is the EC. European credit. Credit point. You need sixty ECs for a propaedeutic year, 240 give you a diploma. “For many fellow students, everything revolved around the ECs. I’ve never seen it like that. I was thinking about what the projects I was working on could mean for me later on. For finding an internship, for finding a job. Much more important and with those credits it worked out well for me.”
One of the assignments Marten worked on was the design of a new jubilee book for the HTS in Leeuwarden. No one else in the minor wanted to do this assignment.
“This is the project that fully ignited my passion and ambition for the profession. Precisely because no one wanted to do this assignment, we saw it as a challenge. If we can turn an unattractive assignment into something bold, then that is much better than an assignment that is attractive in itself.
We ended up doing so much more than just designing a book. We set up the branding of an entire event, with talks. Having a website built by students in another minor, yet another minor we asked for 3D elements for an AR experience with the book. We have scanned old buildings so that they can be used as a 3D model in the experience. It’s almost too much to mention. We delved into the archives, were stubborn and developed our own house style. We spoke to alumni of the HTS, people in the sector, (former) teachers. We managed to pick content from all kinds of nooks and crannies to fill the book. We worked really hard, every weekend and every night.”
In addition to an amazing end result, it brought us much more. “We started to make a name for ourselves. This was our stepping stone to an internship. And suddenly we were allowed to do all sorts of things, such as participating in the honours programme.”
“After the success of our project, things started snowballing. Actually, I had no intention at all to go to the Randstad area. Wander Elout, one of my teachers, then said that I would be crazy if I stayed in Groningen. Because if I didn’t move now, I’d never do it again. I accepted that advice and now I am here in Amsterdam.”
Fast forward to today
As a senior designer and art director at DEPT®, Marten works with a team for various clients. “We recently did a commission for Het Mauritshuis. It is still quite an art to create a good experience in the museum world.”
“What we found important is the accessibility and the experience of the website and the app we developed. We pulled out all the stops, also in the field of audio, for example. The goal: sell more tickets, encourage longer sessions on the website and add a positive contribution to the museum experience.”
“The most important advice I can give students is to study the business world. Find out which design agencies there are, don’t do that until you do an internship. And start building your network. I regularly get messages from students asking me to look at their work. There are so many benefits when you do! You get a much better picture of what the field of work expects of you and which skills you need to work on, and you put yourself in the picture. We receive hundreds of responses to our internship vacancies. If I see a well-known name in there because someone has already contacted me, then such an application is more likely to attract my attention.”
“If you didn’t get the most out of CMD LWD, that’s on you. You get all the tools and possibilities to make something beautiful out of it.”
Marten Kuipers graduated from CMD LWD in 2016. He now works as a senior designer & art director at DEPT®. With his work at DEPT® he won several prizes, including for his work for Bijenkorf, on which DEPT® worked together with Dogstudio. It is difficult to make a selection from his work, because everything makes us so enthusiastic. As you probably also like to look at beautiful pictures, we conclude with a mock-up of the Bijenkorf experience. You’re welcome.