Dagny Interview

‘Hyper Island slows things down for people coming from an industry where constant speed is a problem.’

We met with Interactive Art Director student (today Design Lead) Dagny from Iceland, who made the move to Stockholm to develop her conflict resolution and people skills.

Dagny, who is a 29-year-old redhead known for always sporting bright red lipstick explains how she first heard about Hyper Island in 2014. Dagny, who has been working as an Art Director at an Advertising Agency for the last years, loves to challenge herself by exploring new ways of thinking and doing things.

“I had heard that it was a great digital school, but I never really grasped the concept until this year when I was working full-time at an advertising agency in Reykjavik. I was being really vocal about the fact that I wanted to develop more, maybe go back to study somewhere.

My boss actually went to Hyper Island in 2013 and studied Interactive Art Director so she told me about the program and the school and it sounded like the perfect match for me. I was eager to explore more soft skills. That’s what sold me on Hyper Island instead of another design school.

I really believe that the advertising industry is missing a focus on effective working patterns and well-being and I think Hyper Island is the only school that currently responds to this need.”

Dagny says she checked out the school’s website and blog thoroughly and then just applied directly for the same year’s intake, procrastinating for weeks before completing her Creative Task, which she ended up handing in only 2 days before the deadline.

When she got admitted, she started prepping for her move to Sweden, where she had never really been before.

“But I did talk to a bunch of my friends who had been living in Stockholm and they got me very excited about it. And that was valid. I actually really like it here. It’s not too big, but there’s always a lot to do, like a lot of events and design – as well as start-up orientated things going on. I think I do want to explore the world a bit more, but definitely, wouldn’t mind staying in Stockholm either. But before that, I need to finish reshuffling my decks and figure out everything else in my life: do I want to be in art direction or advertising? Who knows!”

Dagny says she sees Hyper Island as a great opportunity to take a break from her hectic work life in advertising to re-focus on the things she really wants to do and that give her energy.

“My boss at my former job had implemented a bunch of Hyper Island tools at work so I could already navigate through the Hyper Island methodology before starting to study here. I think that the first-hand experience was the main motivator for me to give this program a shot. My previous high education was from a traditional design school – IED in Barcelona.”

By the way, how did Dagny first get into design?

“It all happened by chance. I was one of those kids who was completely lost after High School. I tried a few things – from sociology to French to culinary school. After all that didn’t quite fit, I took some time off and went traveling in the US. While I was over there my parents took over the research and found this course that was creative writing and design orientated back in Iceland. I followed their advice and ended up really enjoying it. It was my first contact with the whole creative industry and where I finally found my creative outlet in graphic design. So thanks, mom and dad!”

Dagny also got lucky after getting admitted to Hyper Island, as she was one of the first students to secure an apartment in Stockholm’s heavily coveted housing market.

“I found a studio apartment really close to school all the way back in June. Right after we got our admissions letters some students formed this facebook group to find housing and that was really useful because everyone helped each other. I know it can be difficult so I can really just recommend everyone to start looking as early as possible and build a network.

Speaking of, the students at Hyper Island are super friendly and helpful in many regards. You get acquainted with both locals from Stockholm but also with people from all over the world. That gives you so much insight into other cultures. I really value that. So it’s a great trade-off between getting to know all the best spots in Stockholm, while still being able to broaden my horizons.

Oh, and all the students are really active too! There’s always someone doing something, so you never need to be alone if you don’t want to.“

Dagny’s favorite learning experience so far is the general accessibility of the Hyper Island tools.

“They make things clearer and help everybody express their goals and expectations so everyone is on the same page. Also, the fact that we’re able to be open about emotions helps avoid massive conflicts and even if we do have them, we know how to deal with them.

The only thing that really surprised me is the whole speed of things. I expected things to happen at a higher-pace because that’s how the advertising industry works.

Actually, that’s also one of the main reasons why I came here in the first place: I had a burnout last year and realized that there was something wrong with how I was working and how I was expected to work. I had fallen into this pattern of over-working. And I really think Hyper Island helps me deal with that. I embrace the fact that they try to clarify things and slow things down. Basically simplifying the whole work structure in this industry, I really feel a need for that to happen.”

Dagny is open to staying in the advertising industry – which she appreciates especially for its diversity of being both analytical and creative.

“I could see myself doing anything – from being a junior UX designer to creative direction. As long as I’m challenged and learning something new. But I also dream about starting my own thing one day, like my own design studio or agency. We’ll see what happens.”