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Pauline Marie Korp on What the Industry Has to Learn from Young Creatives

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The art director at hasan & partners speaks to LBB’s Zoe Antonov about femininity in the industry, the dilemma between sparking real change while not capitalising on people’s struggles, and how her Estonian background affected her career

Pauline Marie Korp on What the Industry Has to Learn from Young Creatives

Growing up with two artistic parents and always enjoying writing and drawing, Pauline Marie Korp, the 27-year-old art director at hasan & partners claims that she has always had an inkling for creativity. “But I often wanted to swim against the tide,” she says “and become either a journalist, a mathematician or something to do with computers.” Although her range of interests continued to be broad and flexible throughout her childhood, arts was what she stuck with for the longest.

While she was growing up in Tallinn, Estonia, she attended a number of art schools, for ceramics, portrait drawing and life painting, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Beyond that, she engaged in writing a music blog, curating playlists (before Spotify was even a thing), and even took part in organising popular music festivals in Tallinn. 

The environment Pauline grew up in set the tone for her creative blossoming - ‘90s Estonia was a time where “everyone was celebrating their recently gained independence," and that was a joyous time that opened doors for most, including Pauline’s parents, who managed to create “a very privileged cultural background for [her] and [her] siblings.” The art director believes that she still carries this feeling in her today, which reminds her that everything is attainable if “you just go out there and grab it.” Her father also being a graphic designer, fostered in Pauline an interest in computers from early on and she was “already photoshopping friends’ pictures from 10-11 years old.” Later, at school she helped the school paper’s Chief Editor with the design of the paper, posters and marketing materials.

Growing up, Pauline followed her creative streak, which led her to Arts University Bournemouth, where she pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication. “It was a refreshing experience, as compared to the Estonian curriculum at the time, it was much more practical and experimental. My Estonian brain was not used to so much freedom and I was always hoping for some concrete studying, exams, right answers and results, but as I got used to it, it prepared me for jobs in the real world and introduced me to a lot of amazingly talented people.” 

Linking back to the early photoshopping exercises, Pauline got her first ‘real’ graphic design job during her time in Bournemouth. “I worked for a mother of two in her office in a shed in her backyard. We did graphic art working for very big clients like Jamie Oliver, London musicals, Anthony Joshua and even on the Queen’s 90th birthday merchandise.”

After graduating from university, she became a full time children’s book designer at Penguin Random House, but to her, “that was such a big corporation and the processes were very slow and controlled.” This is what led her to advertising, where she would eventually find the varied workload that she was looking for and would be able to utilise the variety of interests he had fostered from an early age. 

When asked where she honed her craft, Pauline goes back to the only phrase in Russian she remembers from her teacher back in the day: “Practice is the mother of learning.” Which is exactly what helps her to still hone her craft as a young creative. She also has learned, through trial and error, that the best thing to do when you don’t understand something is to simply ask. “There’s a 99% chance that other people don’t get it either.”

When it comes to the work itself, the project that she firmly believes has changed her career is her work for Sweet Spot Festival. “I had always had in my head the perfect music festival branding and design and in 2018 I was approached to design a massive festival in Tallinn as a freelancer. So I pretended I had an existing company name and ran to register my freelance business, which marks the birth of my company PauPau Design.” While Pauline realises that the festival was probably too big of a piece to chew for such a young designer, she always knew how to fake it until she made it, so she “asked for no help and designed, animated, illustrated all day and all night to make this happen.”

All of the work paid off once the whole city was covered in her designs and even more so, once the festival took off. “Having Tom Odell, Jose Gonzalez, Little Dragon and many others signing in the middle of my designs was an absolutely unforgettable feeling,” says Pauline.

This sort of challenge is what has always excited her about her job, and this is precisely why she loves conceptual thinking and problem solving. She also of course loves working with other amazingly talented people, that she keeps meeting at hasan & partners, where she has been for only two and a half years, but has gathered an impressive portfolio of work to show for. “There have been empowering projects, like when we launched the Eco by Herbina brand through focusing on the individual’s balance between vulnerabilities and strengths. So not urging people to turn their vulnerabilities into strengths, but rather finding the balance between them.” 

Another project that taught Pauline a lot was the Lambi and Serla rebranding projects. “I am the art director on Lambi and to see this brand grow as much as it has, has been an absolute privilege.” [link] Another project where she got to let her imagination run wild, creating visuals out of food, was one for K-Ruoka online grocery store.

All of the projects she loves the most include what she is passionate about, which to Pauline can be an endless list, but she narrows it down to “femininity in the industry, colour usage, investing in quality not quantity, body positivity, representation and workplace culture.” Inclusivity in the industry is something that excites her and she hopes it would expand further in coming years. “I know a lot of people have expressed criticism towards social cause advertising and call it social or green washing, which a lot of it might very well be, but it is still curating the world we are living in and hopefully the next generations will feel less and less insecure and excluded because of it.”

She is, however, cautious with advertising that aims to always create change. “Especially at the moment, where there is so much injustice in the world, and I would like to help, but then again I don’t want to commercialise others’ suffering. Advertising is a difficult industry, as it gets you into these ethical dilemmas quite often. It is also so personal and consumit and the work does not stop - you always carry it around with you.”

Although Pauline is conflicted on the axis of sparking change and trying to keep that work real and authentic, she knows that ultimately, advertising  has the power and potential to finally normalise things that have never been normalised before, such as men’s emotions and vulnerability, human shapes, forms, colours. “We cannot deny the impact advertising has on people and their outlook on the world.”

She believes that one crucial move advertising can make to portray change in a more authentic and empowering way is to listen to young voices. “Everyone should respect senior creatives and their expertise, but there is so much for them to learn from the young and I believe that cooperation and respect leads to success.” Pauline is certain that advertising has a long way to go, but the path will be through the young creatives of the world. She is also passionate about empowering other women to believe and trust in their expertise and what they have to say, no matter what age and what part of the industry they are in.

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hasan & partners, Wed, 11 May 2022 16:46:15 GMT