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dream.create.inspire: catharina bruns of workisnotajob.

March 7, 2011

catharina bruns is a designer, illustrator, creative entrepreneur + founder of workisnotajob.  from the moment i met catharina through the glory of social media i have been smitten with her amazing optimism + work. her words resignate powerfully with me + i very happily introduce you to catharina + her inspiring, engaging + captivating spirit fitting perfectly in to this series..

what is your mission:

workisnotajob is a creative design studio and movement brand dedicated to visual design and social responsibility run by  me, a german-born designer and illustrator. I design with the hopes to encourage others to live a creative life and work on what they love. The mission is to inspire a paradigm shift in the definition of “work” and pointing out the importance to contribute to the world by living your talents. I help people visualize their creative projects and designs and sell limited edition prints and clothing. I enjoy working with like-minded people to inspire positive change in the world.

what was your childhood dream?

I wanted to be a scientist and invent something cool. I have always been a researcher and explorer, wanted to learn and understand everything.

your dailies (job)

I start my day early and usually dedicate my morning to client work like logo design or branding projects. I also take care of the web shops product sales and shipping soon after getting up. When that’s done, I start to work on the more idealistic projects usually in collaboration with charities, non-profits or dedicated individuals. Social media updates and creating new designs for the blog to keep the lovely readers inspired also take a few hours almost every day. A very precious part of my day is to take time to go outside and explore. I would leave my desk to sit at a café or wander aimlessly on regular basis. It’s part of my creative process.

what is your favorite thing about your job?

To have the freedom to work on projects that I consider as meaningful and get the chance to work with so many talented, enthusiastic culture shapers and aspiring change makers. To be able to create and visualize. To contribute and inspire. here are some examples of my work.

favorite quote(s)

My work is quite type-heavy, I draw quotes and design statements every day. Words are beautiful and powerful, open yourself to this one:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now”. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

favorite flower

I LOVE Zantedeschia aethiopica – the Calla lily! My mom is a florist and I grew up with flowers but my all time favorite is the big white calla lily. She is perfect. Simplicity meets grace.

how do you stay motivated daily?

I remind myself of why I do what I do and keep making work. I surround myself with other dedicated people. I try to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself with new things and people.

toughest challenge upon working towards your dream?

To deal with the red tape attached to “running a company”. I am based in Germany, but frequently work abroad and go back and forth between the US and Europe.

Germany has many regulations in place and it’s not always fun to take care of everything. But it’s a privilege to live such a creative lifestyle and of course all worth it.

how did you work through it?

Educated myself about what needs to be done and what to do first. By dealing with all these things that seem so unrelated to the work you dream to do – you learn an awful lot. I learned to ask for help when it gets too frustrating as well. I can only recommend to get help with the non creative aspects of living the dream of a start up. You can’t do everything alone.

how many times have you heard no?

Just like for anybody else, some things worked out for me and some things didn’t. In retrospective, I am happy for any experience that led to my personal and professional situation today. When I deal with rejection, I think to myself “well, this “No” is just one opinion, that’s ok. There are a million opinions in the world, and this time I have to learn something else from it than I originally hoped. If you commit to give 100% and it still doesn’t work out – it’s not supposed to be.

often times no can be very demotivating, how have you turned no’s into yes’s or find the silver lining?

I believe that if something doesn’t happen for you, it means it’s not right for you now or at all. At the risk of sounding terribly cheesy – but life always knows best for you. You’ve got to accept change as inevitable and trust the process. Be willing to let go and think new thoughts.

i find it very important to recognize your accomplishments, while you set new goals to have a sense of achievement. list your favorite accomplishment this year?

I made a couple of amazing connections this year and will work with some inspiring start ups and non-profits to help them do awesome. There’ll be a collaborative tee shirt collection with a NYC art and fashion label and a book project I am very excited about.

balancing free services vs paid while building your business..

I have this principle to either work for free or full price. If I think a project is truly meaningful and want to see it happen, I don’t discuss money. The philosophy behind my studio is to inspire others to work on what they love and live their talents. I live and breathe this manifesto and want to contribute my talent to projects that inspire positive change. Of course I run a business, but honestly – I never really thought about money when I started it. I am lucky now that there are paid projects that allow to support passion projects as well. I am a firm believer that if you live your beliefs and work on what you love, the money will come.  It works!

what is the one thing that has given your company a big boost?

Work! ..and Social media. I started the company with the promising feedback of thousands of blog subscribers who support the brand globally. It started as an anonymous blog and is now a creative studio and movement brand that inspires people around the world. It’s amazing what technology and the internet enables in terms of reach and connectivity. But nothing substitutes 1. work and 2. work – no matter what channels you use to get the word out.

as we grow + learn more about ourselves, evolution may be necessary. how do your dreams evolve as you do?

It’s a natural process I think. When I started my blog, all I wanted was to post my work, inspire a few people and encourage them to dream a little bigger. It’s not that you stop dreaming when you feel you’ve reached a certain goal. I now dream to inspire real, sustainable social change and want my work to go beyond inspiring artwork. Words don’t change a thing, we need to act on our ambitions and that’s why I seek to work with other dedicated people and actively integrate what I belief in every area of my life.

when do you know when its time to let go of a goal and move on to another? If it doesn’t feel right, it’s time to move on. Everyone secretly knows that. But I also tend to question a bad gut feeling at first. I guess I am weird combination of artist/scientist and want to make sure I take enough risk to push myself to the next level. The first feeling always turns out to be right though.

what inspires you?

Life! music! people! everything! I take a lot of time to make observations, take pictures, listen to music and people. I need public solitude to fuel my creativity.

creatives tend to have numerous passions, how did you hone in your focus to keep your creative self satisfied?

Your art is your life and your life is your art: I believe this to be true for everyone. I allow myself to explore life, arts..and process everything through my work. I am an avid songwriter and guitar player and have an album out as well – when I don’t draw type, I play music. Armin Mueller-Stahl said: “Where acting ends, writing begins, where writing ends, painting begins, where painting ends, music begins”. I love that.

your favorite go–to books/magazines/brands that you adore?

I like books and magazine a lot, mostly because I love editorial design, letterpress and type. I love browsing indie fashion/art & culture magazines with stunning photography and illustrations. “I Love You” the printed version of Berliner Christiane Broder’s blog is beautiful.

persons you have looked up to for drive + inspiration?

I am impressed with anyone who follows their heart, takes necessary steps towards their dreams and ask themselves: What do I do for others?

what do you recommend for creative, budding entrepreneurs working to create their dreams?

To do anything entrepreneurial, most of the battle is having the persistence to break through all the obstacles, not being impressed by impediments, trusting yourself and the process. I can’t emphasize enough – if you have a dream, an idea or feel you have some other purpose – GO FOR IT. Make it happen. Take the courage to act on your ambitions and work on what you love. No seriously, launch your idea and let’s work together. The world needs your contribution. Start it now.

read prior dream.create.inspire interviews

information on this series

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2011 12:41 pm

    Wow, Christina. I don’t know where to begin. What a truly fantastic feature. Just devoured every single word and image. And now I kinda wanna make out with Catharina Bruns ;) Thank you so much for sharing.


    • March 8, 2011 12:45 pm

      Ha, Brandon. She does seem to be really something, doesn’t she. I am so glad you liked the feature. I am doing the dream.create.inspire feature monthly. I hope you come on back to see the next one! Christina


      • March 8, 2011 2:17 pm

        I will! Just read the feature on Grace Bonney. LOVE this idea!! Congrats!


  2. March 18, 2011 8:32 pm

    I LOVE workisnotajob and am so happy to read some info on Catharina. She’s really tapped into something for me. I’d love the whole world to know about her and her work. Thanks for this piece.


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