Mature, functional and distinctive, Marina Veziko’s design portfolio is full of character
The Helsinki-based graphic designer has been working on an array of noteworthy projects, including the identity for Kelet, a documentary about the life of a young Somali trans woman.
- Ayla Angelos
- 11 August 2020
Like many graduating students, Marina Veziko wasn’t sure which direction to turn in after school. Coming from a “non-creative family”, graphic design – or anything creative – wasn’t at all on her radar as a career, so her post-school pursuits took a little while to be figured out. “I ended up studying graphic design sort of by accident,” she tells It’s Nice That, “and in the beginning I wasn’t actually sure if I would stick with it.”
Thankfully, she continued to stand by her spontaneous choice. A bachelor’s degree and a few internships later, and Marina landed a job at a brand design agency – yet still, there was a slight tinge of doubt as to whether this was the right profession for her. “My initial plan was to stay there only for a little while and then maybe apply for a master’s degree in a slightly different field, like service design,” she says. “But at some point something finally ‘clicked’ and I found myself really enjoying the work.” So much so that she ended up staying at the agency of more than three years, where she learnt the ropes and built a community of teammates that she likens to family.
“But,” she continues, “one and a half years ago I felt that it was time for something new.” This new endeavour was the moment that Marina decided to go about things on her own, and ultimately start her own practice. Having already built an array of freelance clients over the past couple of years, the leap was “more exciting than it was terrifying”. How she got here, though, was very much to do with her analytical mind. “I’d say it was my tendency towards simplifying, organising and improving things that eventually got me interested in design; so basically getting satisfaction out of ‘from chaos to order’.”
Despite her move towards a freelance and flexible working day, one thing’s still very much remained the same – her obsessively organised mindset. Marina has not just one, but daily, weekly, monthly and yearly to-do lists that she updates every day. “I also like to keep track of where my time goes,” she says, “so I mark all my hours scrupulously in Harvest.”
This meticulous way of thinking also transfers to her briefs; her clients are Marina’s main inspiration, and she particularly seeks out the moments where she can research and “soak in” as much information about their field as possible. “The enthusiasm and drive they have is contagious, and the knowledge they have of their field is always inspiring.” Like a sponge she absorbs new topics, from quantum computing to textile fibre innovations, non-alcoholic beer, banking, organic cosmetics, yoga, jewellery, you name it – “the phase of gathering knowledge and learning new things is the most exciting part of a new project.”
Marina tends to work on larger, holistic brand projects, as well as “quick” poster design pieces too. An example of which can be seen in the visual identity and movie titles created for Kelet, a documentary about the life of a young Somali trans woman who is pursuing her dream of becoming a model. “‘Bold, iconic and unapologetic’ were the keywords when creating the identity, which takes cues from the ballroom scene and pays homage to classics like ‘Paris is Burning’,” explains Marina, who points out the colourful, playful yet equality sophisticated identity aesthetic – “just like Kelet herself”.
A further project saw Marina produce the visual identity for the Rajaton furniture exhibition, which was part of the Helsinki Design Week. A group exhibition that examined the “responsible use of materials and workways” and “questioned the borders between project design and art”, Marina needed to create a language that was to match this approach. Working with photographer Sam Urbanski and illustrator Rakastaia Rober, they interpreted this with the notion of “boundlessness”. She adds: “The portraits have a dreamy absence and in the product photos the objects merge with both the sky and the ground. The Typography and the delicate line drawings have fading contours, imprecise outlines and dissolving shapes.” Unusual no less, the identity flouts the typical furniture exhibition aesthetic and has been moulded with a sleek photography style and designer portraits.
It’s hard to believe that graphic design was never a sure choice for Marina. Her portfolio is effortlessly mature, and the projects she takes on and self-initiates are equally as impactful as her functional and attention grabbing aesthetic. For the past year, she’s been collaborating with Tino Nyman on a publication, FEW – a magazine about minorities in Finland which is soon to be released. The debut will focus on Romani, one of the most discriminated minorities in Finland. “The way the Roma folk are presented in the Finnish media is very negative and we want to change that,” she says, with plans to steer the magazine towards being “educational but also approachable, fun, beautiful and respectful.” This is definitely a project worth keeping an eye out for.
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.