Sometimes it happens when you think that you do not have any relation with something, suddenly you find a chain of connections with yourself.
Richard Niessen - graphic designer working and living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Since 2006 he works together with his wife Esther de Vries. The main focus was – search for a relations between Richard Niessen and Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Richard Niessen graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 1996. Esther de Vries graduated from this Academy as well in 1998. I selected some fragments from interviews where they mention the Rietveld Academie:
“The class in which I graduated, in 1996, we all started on our own. I think there was a need for a new generation. We were the first generation of creatives that were used to using computers. I think there was also an economic boom; a lot of clients wanted to work with young designers. Linda van Deursen had been teaching us and she was very influential. Ajax won the Champions League in 95 so she called us her Champions League.”
“It’s one of the best schools,” says Niessen, “because it takes students seriously. Also, great designers teach there. A lot of art schools in Holland are more like schools, but the Rietveld is different…”
“It’s also because there are lots of interesting students,” adds Esther de Vries. “Everybody wants to go there, so they get a great selection of people to choose from. It generates a lot of talent.”
“Students at the Rietveld are taught that they shouldn’t ever expect to earn any money,” laughs Niessen. “Most people prefer to stay poor and do exciting work. Sometimes we’re asked to work with commercial clients but it never works out because they see a piece of work and say ‘we want that’.”
“Rietveld is a quite particular school. Rather than being taught in a certain style, you are trained to have an attitude. Students aren’t given straightforward assignments like ‘make a letterhead’ or ‘design a business card’. You are encouraged to be autonomous, to adopt a more art-like approach, to work more conceptually. Of course at the time I wanted to make letterheads, but after I left I was thankful for the training. It’s attitude that prepares you for anything, and you have plenty of time to find your own style after you graduate. Now I always start by thinking about what is the most interesting aspect of an assignment for me.”