Anna Härlin, Graphic Designer & Stationary Artist
In our series about Time For Creative Souls, we invite you to meet creative people from all over the world who have in common that they are going all in with their creativity and make the most beautiful and dedicated work in different ways.
For the special occasions of our lives, we want every little detail to be as perfect as possible and to reflect ourselves. With her company Studio Ja Ja which is located in Berlin, Anna Härlin has made a business out of her passion for making beautiful stationary and other creative design projects for special occasions, helping to create a perfect and personal atmosphere around weddings, baptisms, birthdays and so on. Besides doing all that Anna also works as a freelance graphic designer for various clients.
We have talked to Anna about her passion for creative and personal designs. Read about her background, her business and what her favorite projects are. She also comes with a lot of cool inspiration for other creative souls!
I like the change of working for really small clients, like wedding couples, and then creating something for a global brand the next time.
Dear Anna, did you always know that you'd do something creative for a living?
Yes, somehow I did. As a little girl, I loved to draw, paint and do creative stuff. For example, I drew tiny creatures on paper that I cut out to play with. I created entire worlds that way. I have to admit that there was also a short prima ballerina phase in my life. But I am glad I chose the other path. I truly love my work.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative career journey?
I went to fashion and graphic design school in Munich, right after high school. I was only twenty-two when I graduated. After that I did a ton of internships at various design agencies in Munich and Berlin. Then I was more than lucky to get a permanent contract as a graphic designer at Schaubühne Berlin, a well-known theatre for contemporary plays. I worked there for about three years. I was responsible for the whole graphic appearance of the theatre. After that I worked for several small design companies, before I decided to become a freelancer which I still am now.
How did you get started in terms of getting the first customers? We hear it can be difficult to build up a portfolio and get the first customers.
Actually, I keep asking myself this. I guess I was very lucky from the beginning on: Somehow clients and projects kept rolling in from the start, and it has stayed this way until now. Of course, sometimes it is a little bit too quiet and sometimes a little bit too busy - as it is the case for every freelancer. Building my own website was definitely a necessary thing to do, which I would recommend to anyone working in this field.
What I really love is to create designs for clients whose products I adore.
What is a typical workday for you? Is there even a typical workday for you?
I don’t really have a daily routine. It depends on the task I am working on, and whether I am working in-house with an agency that has booked me or at my office for my own clients. As I’m a mum of two, now the typical working days are regularly being turned upside down anyway.
What would you do if you had a few more hours per day?
I would really love to do more self-curated work. But it takes so much more to pull oneself together to do that, so I find myself creating far more for clients. I would also like to do more design templates for my Studio Ja Ja.
You have worked on many different design projects. All from designing wedding invitations to making interactive webpages... Do you have favorite tasks or clients from specific areas?
That’s true, I have done a whole variety of multidisciplinary projects that I was all really excited about. I like the change of working for really small clients, like wedding couples, and then creating something for a global brand the next time. What I really love is to create designs for clients whose products I adore.
Now you are devoting a lot of time to wedding stationary. How did that evolve?
That’s right. I have my own wedding stationary design company called Studio Ja Ja. I spent a hell of a lot of time creating my own wedding stationary and truly loved doing this. After that all of my friends and family who married asked me to design their stationary. So my wedding portfolio became big very fast, and I found a lot of joy in creating wedding designs. I like to create the right design that suits each couple and their personal wedding style. It is a very thankful and rewarding task. And I still like the idea of cerebrating a couple’s love.
I like to create the right design that suits each couple and their personal wedding style. It is a very thankful and rewarding task. And I still like the idea of cerebrating a couple’s love.
What part does social media play for your business?
I am not terribly active with posting stuff myself. I always feel a little bit guilty about that because I could do so much more with social media. I have mixed feelings about social media—it’s a huge inspiration tool, but at the same time it is such a time killer. Sometimes I think I should use more time for creating, and less for research… But then again, after I had been offline a while and recently visited Pinterest again, I was amazed how much great stuff I found! It made me want to get creative myself right away.
Is there something that you'd like to test out which you haven't tried before?
Good question. I would love to have my own office space and work together with lovely co-workers. That’s a thought that I like.
What would be your dream projects to work on in the future?
I would really love to create a corporate design for a restaurant, bar or coffee shop. Or the look of a hotel. Designing exhibitions or events is something I would love to do, too… And food packaging, more paper illustrations, more maps… Oh my, I guess I am still very passionate about my job in general and can see myself doing a lot of projects that my heart beats for!
Do you have any books or blogs on creativity that you can recommend?
I enjoy listening to Design Matters with Debbie Millman - a design podcast. I read Design Made in Germany, and like everything that Tobias van Schneider puts out there.
Which Instagrammers are on top of your inspiration list?
Thank you so much, Anna!
➸ Do you want to see more from Anna Härlin? Take a look at her portfolio website or at Studio Ja Ja to discover more of her wedding stationary and other creative projects.
Read more of our interviews in our Time For Creative Souls series! You might like our interview with illustrator Isabella Hemmersbach or artist Emily Grady Dodge.
Interview by Mermaid Stories
Photos by Anna Härlin