Leonie Markhorst is a Freelance Creative Consultant at Studio NOA NOIR.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
Initially, it was my move across the world (from the Netherlands to Canada) and a sense of curiosity that really got me started. I had been active on some fashion forums and read a lot of blogs at that time, and arriving in Vancouver without having a job lined up gave the opportunity to simply give blogging a try. Eventually, the website continued to grow (and changed after a re-brand to NOA NOIR), while I was working a full-time office job as Marketing & Business Development Manager in a biotech company, and I started dreaming about working independently.
After 4 years in Canada, I moved back to Europe — this time to Berlin, Germany — and decided to use this chance to try out the freelance life. I had received a few contract-based project requests from brands I had previously worked with for blog collaborations, so I took that as a sign that it was time to give it a go. That’s when Studio NOA NOIR was born. Now almost 3 years ago.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
Thankfully I don’t really have a typical day! Flexibility and the option to organize my day as I go, and the way I prefer to, are very important to me. There are recurring tasks — such as admin & emails, content creation (for my blog, portfolio & clients), putting together creative concepts, social media management, and meetings — but I don’t block them off for specific times. I set my detailed daily schedule one or two days in advance if possible, with the exception of meetings and deadlines, and it has proven to be the best way for me to stay creative and organized at the same time.
WHAT DOES YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE? (YOUR APPS, PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS, ETC.)
Last Summer I became a member of a great business community that also offers beautiful co-working spaces. In a motivated mood, I decided to get rid of my desk at home — I figured my days of isolation would be over. But it turns out that I still enjoy my solitude and getting started on my work during breakfast, so I’ll often work at my dining table now. I enjoy it but am planning on dividing my time at least 60/40 between home and the co-working office.
As for apps, I use Instagram and BlueMail constantly on a daily basis. Afterlight is my go-to for photo editing and UNUM for planning my Instagram feed. The business community uses Slack — which has also been a good tool to stay in touch during client projects. Receipt Catcher PRO has been a lifesaver for staying on top of expenses. Any.DO helps me stay on top of today’s and tomorrow’s to-do lists, and I use Spotify for some musical motivation.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET INSPIRED?
Inspiration can be sparked by anything around me — street style, Instagram, architecture, TV shows and movies, books, and magazines, scent, flowers, music, food, people — really, anything. I take fractions of things that spark my senses and translate that into an outfit, a photograph or inspiration for visual branding. I have never been great at translating (or deciphering) the meaning in a piece of art, but I do have the ability to look at anything and take some sort of inspiration from it.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
It really depends on my mood and state of mind I am in, but one quote I recite regularly in my head is “Gaan met die banaan,” — which is Dutch for “go with the banana” and is basically used to encourage people to go ahead and do it. I think we mostly say it because it rhymes nicely, as it doesn’t really make sense, but we all know what is meant by it. My manager in my first job wrote it to me in a card when she left the company. As a perfectionist and ‘what-if’-er it was the perfect advice — clearly — because years later I still think about it.
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING/INNOVATIVE THING YOU HAVE SEEN ON ANOTHER OUTLET OTHER THAN YOUR OWN?
I have seen so many interesting and innovative things in many other outlets. It’s hard to specifically name one. In general, I feel inspired by anyone that “simply” sticks to their own vision, aesthetics, and opinions when publishing any type of content. Especially in the blogging and social media world, I see more people abandoning what they stand for in the name of mainstream trends and more likes and followers. As a blogger myself I know how tempting it can be, especially when you see the numbers drop, but I refuse to conform if it means threatening my own integrity.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM THAT YOU’RE PASSIONATELY TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
It is not so much a problem, but more of a business improvement: I am currently planning on expanding my freelance services internationally. In this digital age, it’s so easy to work with brands across the globe and I believe it would be a missed opportunity to not leverage this when looking for new collaborations. That being said, literally crossing borders for new freelance business is still a bit of unchartered territory — at least for me — so it’s a challenge, but one that I passionately take on.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT?
A degree is great to cover your basics, but then practical experience should be your priority. There is no need to stress over the exact career that you want — most people end up finding their actual dream job along the way — just try different things that you’re curious about. Also, start networking as soon as possible. It’s all about connections these days and you can’t have too many! Once you have set some goals (whether it be a job in a certain company or learning a new skill), tell everyone about it. You never know what connections the people in your network might have and how these can help you reach your goal. And also: value collaboration. Work with other creatives, expand your horizon, try new things together.