Nina Van Lier

Nina Van Lier

Freelance Graphic Designer
Bachelor of Design in Communication Design

Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi

Make the most of your time at AUT, says Nina Van Lier who completed a Bachelor of Design in Communication Design.

“My advice for other students is to get chatting to your lecturers, technicians and more senior students, and make the most of all the incredible facilities and studios. Soak up everything, ask questions, and apply for the internships in your graduate year – you never know where you might end up.

“I admired and was inspired by many of the lecturers I had at AUT. They would change the way I thought about things, prompt me to look at other ways of viewing the world, and be critical and thoughtful. Having lecturers who also have their own practice outside of university made a big difference, and they bring that to class which made what we were learning real and relevant.”

Choosing AUT
A creative career was always on the cards for Nina who specialised in photography and illustration as part of her communication design degree.

“Ever since I was a kid, I had known that I wanted to go into some form of creative industry. As I got older I gravitated towards photography and graphic design, and became passionate about the influence that visual communication has on culture and behaviour.

“AUT appealed to me for the quality of its communication design degree, and also for the Internz programme. When I was first looking at universities, AUT played a video at my high school about an internship partnership with Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, which completely blew my mind at the time.”

While she had many highlights throughout her studies, working on her final-year project was a big highlight, says Nina whose studies were supported by an AUT Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship.

“The opportunity to be completely self-led and come up with my own brief was a great experience, while still having the structured support of lecturers and peer critique really pushed me in my work. After final hand-in, the entire year group came together to put on our exhibition, which was the perfect celebration to end the course on.”

Highly valuable international experience
After graduating at the end of 2018, Nina went to the US to intern at creative agency FCB West in San Francisco; an opportunity she got through the Internz International Scholarship Programme.

“I worked in a pair with a copywriter who was an AUT communication studies alumna. We got given briefs and then worked together to come up with a concept. Once we narrowed that down, I took charge of the visual and design side of things, and my colleague would craft the words.”

Her lecturer encouraged her to apply for the internship in San Francisco, Nina says.

“While the Internz programme had made me excited when I was applying to study at AUT, by the time it got to the time to apply to these internships I was busy and the opportunity almost slipped by. I’m lucky that my lecturer told me about the internship, and after I had read about it I knew I had to apply.”

After spending most of 2019 in the US, Nina returned to New Zealand at the end of 2019 and is now working as a freelance graphic designer.

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