Creative in Berlin: Luisa Barbero on her experiences as a freelance designer and video editor

Communication design, animation, photography and storytelling: Luisa Barbero's interests and talents are as diverse and colorful as the creative scene in the cultural capital of Berlin. After her bachelor's degree in the northern Italian city of Turin, she began her master's degree in M.A. Communication Design at HMKW Berlin and already worked on film and social media projects during her studies. In this interview we asked her about her start into professional life, her most exciting projects so far and her plans for the future.

What comes to mind when you think about your studies at HMKW?

When I think of HMKW, I think of how my studies made me move to Berlin and start my new life and professional life here. During my studies I got to know some of my closest friends in Berlin. The move to a different university system - I did my bachelor's degree in Italy at an art school - as well as the completely different learning environment told me on many levels something about the organization and interaction within different cultural systems.

You acquired a Master of Arts in Communication Design at HMKW Berlin. What is your current job position?

At the moment I work as a freelance designer and video editor. When it comes to my actual job in relation to my studies, it has definitely helped me to take media law courses, to focus on the psychological aspects of interacting with clients and to generally experience how design and psychology are connected. The fact that I was in a multicultural environment has also helped me to better learn how to communicate with people from different cultural backgrounds.

Did you get any further work experiences prior to your current position that you would like to share with us?

Before my master's degree I worked for a cinema production company here in Berlin. I worked as an animator for the film "Butterflies in Berlin" and then also worked as a social media manager. It was definitely a fun experience to work on an animated film and even when it came to managing the company's social media channels, the job felt quite natural considering the communication and graphic design tools I was equipped with during my studies.


When did you figure out your preferred career path? How much was your choice influenced by the compulsory internship?

The decision for a career path is still a big question, because I have many creative ambitions and I can definitely see myself in different professional fields in the future: from editorial to cinema to branding and so on... In fact, the most important thing that I realized during my studies is that I don't necessarily have to choose one career path, but that I can use my manifold skills in the most different areas, so I can always try out new fields of work and I will never be bored.

Why did you decide to study “Communication Design”? And what made you choose HMKW Berlin?

Although my Bachelor of Arts and Design has already given me a very broad understanding and tools of both worlds, I always felt that I should acquire more knowledge in areas such as psychology and communication. I also wanted to study abroad, change my environment and learn as much as possible - preferably in a country that seemed culturally very interesting to me. During my search for a suitable master's program, I came across HMKW. I found the range of courses very appealing, as it offered a focus and a combination of subjects that I had rarely seen at other universities. So I had no time to lose, immediately put together my portfolio and faster than expected I was already enrolled as a new student at HMKW!

Which contents of your studies are part of your current job? How do your studies help you in your work routine?

It was definitely very helpful to work on editorial projects during my studies, so that the structuring of layouts is now very easy for me. Also, courses on branding and the concept of user-centered design have helped me a lot with a variety of projects. The course on media law has also given me basic knowledge: Among other things, this has taught me how to work more confidently for myself and my clients and I have a greater understanding of my rights and responsibilities as a creative.


What are your plans for the future?

At least for the near future I would like to stay in Berlin to continue looking for good job opportunities and to get in contact with as many inspiring creative people as possible. Also, I definitely want to travel even more and hopefully found my own agency or brand in the future... We will see!

What do you like most about your current job position? What is your biggest challenge?

I would say the hardest part of being a freelancer is definitely building a good support community and a solid customer base... but it's also fun to work on many different projects and with ever new customers! It's a constant learning curve and it's really great to discover so many brands and work with other creative people on big projects.

Could you tell us more about the application phase after your graduation?

Finding a job in Berlin is quite difficult! The competition is extremely high and of course, competition from all over the world does not make it any easier. But it is also a great incentive to try to work on a good qualification and a good portfolio. For me, the start as a freelancer was fortunately a somewhat "softer" start, but at the moment I'm looking for a second mainstay - a permanent job in a company. As a sideline I would like to continue working on freelance projects.

What would you tell fellow students that study at HMKW?

Concentrate on what inspires you: Do research, talk to other people, go to events and take the time to work on your own projects. Do not forget that your fellow students and professors are there to listen to your ideas. So don't take criticism personally and see it as an opportunity to develop yourself. And enjoy the journey (because time goes by fast)!

Which characteristics should students have that want to study „M.A. Communication Design“?

Hard to say, because I believe that every person has personal interests and characteristics that are unique. But as a communication designer I would definitely say that students of this course should have a keen interest in storytelling and new media as well as an enthusiasm for challenges.

Thank you very much for the interview and all the best for your future!