My name is Joanna Domagalska and I’m a polish graphic designer and illustrator studying graphic and media design.
Looking back at my first blog post reflecting on my DPS experience this year, I can see a lot has changed. (For the good). Back then I wasn't able to fully devote my time to look for an internship. Winter months were really difficult. I was trying to hold on to anything that sparked the tiniest amount of joy and motivation in my life.
Some of the most important lessons I took from this year is to know how to deal with my inner critic. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to compare my life to other people’s highlights, and social media being practically the only point of contact with the outside world during lockdown can really disturb my perception of reality. I have learnt how to switch off when things got too difficult - and one of the things that helped me do it is crochet. I find it really therapeutic and relaxing to work with my hands and create something from nothing. And to do it without the pressure of ‘success’ or monetisation.
Coming back to my difficult relationship with social media, I have had a lot of time to think about the role of technology in our lives. Recently I watched Adam Curtis’ new documentary - “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” of which the aim was to investigate how we as humanity got to these strange times that we now experience. It is especially interesting in relation to the post-pandemic world and how people don’t really want to go back to ‘normal’. “There are fears that despite the growing crisis, the system will just return to normal. This paralysis is also fuelled by technology, driven by the aim of giving you today another version of what you had yesterday”. In many ways, the old order didn’t work. But what would be the new normal? Yuval Noah Harari, when asked about the world after Covid, and whether capitalism will endure or eventually disappear, stated that “Capitalism is not part of the laws of nature, it’s a story that people came up with about how the world works and how it should work.” In essence, it all goes down to the power of human imagination, and if we managed to come up with such complex creations like law, money, banks, there is hope that we have the power to reimagine our lives.
It’s particularly interesting for me when I reflect on my own practice and my current internship - over a month ago I started working in a rapidly growing communications consultancy in Berlin, RCKT. I feel very happy and lucky to have this opportunity after many months of applying, so many stressful interviews and a few turned down unpaid offers. I’m glad that I didn’t agree to work for free for another employer and waited just a bit longer for the right opportunity. The internship is now entirely remote, but I can come to the office once a week. I am really impressed with the level of organisation and professionalism that they operate with in the digital realm. Despite the fact that I haven’t met my co-workers yet, I was given a very warm welcome and I feel really supported by the more experienced designers in my team on a daily basis. There are even a few DPS alumni working alongside me. They have a great work culture which can be felt even without experiencing it in person. Their approach to design however is much different to what I have previously had a chance to experience. There are various teams inside the company, and in each team there are consultants, copywriters, art directors and designers. Everyone contributes their unique skills throughout the entire process of creating a campaign. Even though it’s a startup, it’s already quite big and I feel like my input is rather small for now - I am mostly working on smaller projects, such as creating posts for social media, animations, illustrations. I feel like I’m really learning a lot though, and the range of clients is quite diverse - already in my first week there I had a chance to contribute to a Pfizer vaccination campaign in Germany.
I spend most of my day in my room in front of the screen. There’s not much I can do or change about the current state of things, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the imbalance between my digital and physical life. I know that the successful vaccination campaign in the UK has allowed for many places to reopen now but the situation in Germany and Poland isn’t looking so bright at the moment. Without much choice, I have to be constantly connected to my electronic devices or else I will have no contact with the outside world. I depend on them. And I don’t like this dependence, knowing about the surveillance capitalism. Of course, the digital brings so much to our lives - without it I wouldn’t be able to get my internship. But as Shoshana Zuboff stated “We deserve to have it without paying the price of surveillance capitalism”.