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Young Designer on Track with Second Career

Young Designer on Track with Second Career

By building on her strengths, budding freelance designer Sacha van den Berg feels she is finally heading in the right direction.

Born and raised in Hastings, Sacha has always been creative and wanted to go on to study art. But as a school-leaver, she was warned she wouldn’t be able to make a living from arts and design. So she chose to pursue a career in hospitality instead.

As a 19-year-old, she moved to Gisborne to manage a restaurant – “a big three hours up the road,” she laughs. “I hated it. I enjoyed the people interaction. The hardest part was the behind-the-scene management and the hours. It was a lot of work for very little return.”

After studying photography in Wellington, Sacha returned to Hawke’s Bay and enrolled for ideaschool’s Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design. She graduated from EIT in mid-March.

“Now I feel I am almost on the right tracks,” she says. “I am definitely in the realm I want to be in and am trying a lot of different things. I want a lot of practical experience, to pursue a master’s degree and ultimately to teach.”

Coming to degree studies in her late twenties has given Sacha time to develop self-awareness.

“Sometimes I think if I went back I may have done it differently, but actually I’m happy with where I’m at. The hospitality work has given me a lot of skills I may not have otherwise had like how to deal with people and how to communicate – big things if you’re working in the creative world.

“It’s taught me patience and not to be afraid of the big hours. The experience in hospitality definitely helps with doing this. Working 60 hours a week is normal in hospitality.”

Sacha is working part-time at the cellar door at Clearview Estate while she develops her design practice’s client base.

“I’m not earning enough from my business to pay the bills but I now think there is money to be made in design. It’s about being very disciplined, very strict and very good at time management. I’m still working on that,” she adds with a grin. “It’s quite different, with clients taking the role of my lecturers and setting the deadlines for myself.”

Sacha says ideaschool studies helped her develop confidence in her design abilities.

“EIT was so nurturing, so supportive. If you have an idea they push you to explore it and then some.

“I think the way ideaschool structures its courses and the daily interactions nurture individual students rather than en masse. And because the Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design is a multidisciplinary degree, you can seek guidance from any of the lecturers.”

Looking forward to what’s ahead, Sacha says “I am excited. I’ve got the skills, I’ve got the experience and I can jump in and get it done.”


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