Next Creative Leaders 2019: Lauren van Aswegen
on Nov 07, 2019
She / Her / Hers
Hometown and country:
Johannesburg, South Africa
Current employer, city and role:
Freelance, New York, ACD / Art Director
How did your upbringing, family or hometown shape you as a creative?
Being born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa I always looked to Europe and the US for inspiration. It was only once I had left my home and began working overseas that I realized the wealth of creativity that was around me while growing up. I still often look to my past and to South African culture as a source of inspiration.
What’s your “breaking into advertising” story?
I have my brother to thank. I was in high school, while my older brother was in college studying advertising. His lack of interest in his assignments and my intrigue in the fact that this is something you could actually get a degree in, led me to complete the assignments on his behalf. Years later I went on to graduate with my own degree from the Vega School of Branding in South Africa. And my brother went on to successfully pursue a very different creative career.
What’s the piece of work you’re most proud of and why?
Insta Novels for The New York Public Library. Creating a piece of work for a brand whose mission is to “inspire lifelong learning and advance knowledge” was both inspiring and daunting. But seeing the positive responses from authors, up and coming publishers, teachers using it in their classrooms, and even people who had been inspired to launch their first novel the same way, made a crazy thing seem not that crazy.
What does meaning this award mean to you?
It is extremely humbling being among the other women on this list and those that have received this in previous years. It's a reminder that women can be and should be each other's biggest supporters. Also, it’s a responsibility as a Next Creative Leader to be as supportive as the leaders I’ve been fortunate enough to work with.
Who has most influenced you in your career thus far?
I have worked many talented men and women during my career that have all influenced me in different ways. My first creative director, Tereza Sverakova, and my most recent, Corinna Falusi, were the biggest influencers. They gave me opportunities, confidence, and the support that was instrumental in shaping who I am as a creative.
What is your secret (or not-so-secret) creative super power and how to you flex it?
Knowing when an individual is more talented at something than me and trying to learn as much from them as possible.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing women right now (work or non work related) and how would you solve it?
The connotation often associated with fighting for equality means that you are against men, which is not the case. Because of this, many women lack the confidence to speak up about equality in fear of judgment or dismissal. We need all leaders regardless of what gender they identify as to be aware of this and address it.
If you were CCO of your company, what would be the one thing you’d change (if you could just wave your magic wand?)
*Magic wand noise* Equal pay.
The theme of this year’s 3% Conference is “29%” in an effort to help men experience what their female colleagues experience every day as the minority. What’s one thing you wish your male colleagues could see through your eyes?
I wish they’d see the smaller less spoken about inequalities we face and learn from them in order to not to repeat them.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the past year?
Put your health before deadlines.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career so far and how did it pan out?
Moving to a country where I couldn’t speak the language to take up my first art director position. Within my first year as a designer in Johannesburg, I was given the opportunity to go to work at the Legas Delaney in Prague, Czech Republic. In those 3 years, I managed to build a portfolio that got me a job in New York. Experiencing and working in different countries has had a huge influence on my creative approach.
How do you “fill up your cup” creatively?
All of the clichés like traveling, galleries, movies, TV shows, and hikes. Maybe the lesser-known filling of said cup is people watching and eavesdropping.
What’s currently inspiring you?
I have a newfound obsession with architecture. How we interact with it, how much it can affect or change our experience of a place and the massive influence it has aesthetically on a single shot within a film or photograph.
What would be your dream project and why?
I would love to work on a project or documentary that highlights a subculture within a community, offering a new perspective on something we thought we understood.
Who would be your dream collaborators and why?
That’s tough to say as it changes so often. I’m really into directors, photographers, and artists that might not be as well known but are doing something that feels different from the norm. Either they are pushing the boundaries with the medium or with what they communicate through their work. Photographer Micaiah Carter’s beautiful work is an example of this. Miciah says he “really wants [his] photography to be a quality platform for representation of people of color that hasn’t been seen before.” He’s breathtakingly clear on his purpose for someone still early in his career.
Who’s your (current) woman crush every day?
All the women that support other women within the industry, it has a greater impact than you think.
How are you leaving the work, the workplace or the world a better place than you found it?
Working at Mother, I learned many things but the one that has stuck with me is “Don’t be an asshole.” I try to live by that. No one is perfect, but trying is better than not.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to women embarking on a creative career?
Find your person. The one that is going to support you and take the time to build your confidence, because that is the most difficult thing to learn when starting out. Don’t choose a job based on the money, client or agency name. Choose it based on the people you are going to work with, what you will be able to learn from them and how you will be treated. This will make you the creative you didn’t know you could be so that you can take on the jobs you thought you would never be able to get. Then go be that person for someone else.
Next Creative Leaders 2019---Click any headshot to view their interview---