Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Suuronen.
Laura, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I got deeper into arts and design as a teenager living in New York suburbs. After moving back to my native Finland, I went on to study graphic design to pursue a more practical career in art. I was working at the forefront of mobile publishing when I won a major design award for a magazine I’d guest art directed and designed. This recognition led to a job at a top creative agency. After a couple of award-filled years working with Scandinavia’s biggest brands, I started to long for more creative freedom and exploring new places.
After a trip to Los Angeles the town just wouldn’t leave me: bands and labels I’d crossed paths with started asking me to design T-shirts and logos, which turned into album covers and websites – essentially meaning I designed and creative directed artists’ whole visual identities. At the same time, I was making work for the leading contemporary art galleries and museums in Finland, designing books, invites, posters, websites, and so on.
After a poster I’d created for an international design exhibition won the main award at Best Finnish Creative Design, and a slew of other design competitions across the United States, I thought it was time to move to bigger markets. I flew to London and meant to stay there for six months. Somehow that turned into three years, during which I worked on global campaigns and rebranding efforts. Learning about the international corporate world, along with British culture, I realized I was yet again yearning for more creativity.
While I was judging a design competition in the US, it finally dawned on me that I should really be in Los Angeles. After having redesigned the visual identity of a Pan-African telecom company and my home country’s expo stand at the World Expo, I didn’t think my clients would get much bigger. Yet since moving to LA, I’ve worked with the world’s biggest tech, culture and entertainment brands – the number ones in their categories, such as Apple and Netflix.
Most of this work is consumer-facing, meaning that my audience has grown as well. I currently have a nice mix of corporate clients with their own sophisticated needs, balanced out with interesting cultural players who give more room to roam creatively. Recently I did some work for Target, and ventured out to creating some sculptures while working on LA Phil’s campaigns.
I also designed a book to capture Alfonso Cuarón’s film Roma, which is just coming out with Assouline. It’s so great to have been able to bring my publication design heritage to Hollywood, and to create tangible, analog experiences for new crowds. It’s a truly exciting time, and I can’t wait to see what the new year brings.
Has it been a smooth road?
I’ve found that design here in the US has a different place in culture, and its value is often reduced to just ROI. I’m used to design – including graphic design – having cultural value and understand its context broadly. Because of my background, I find it underwhelming to just polish or decorate something, or pursue a “cool look.”
For me, design needs to have a concept and say something. I’m also more interested in what a piece does, than how it necessarily looks. Yes, I’m recognized for my aesthetic, yet it’s the project at hand that determines how and what the piece ends up looking and being – not just my approach and experiences. I once had a creative director say that I give myself my own brief on top of the existing agency one. Maybe that’s why I’ve heard my work being described as expressive, and something people connect with emotionally.
I understand design more as a verb than a noun, as the truly interesting things happen in the process or when the audience is interacting with the final piece. I expect new work to also bring something new to the field, or at least to try and explore new ideas conceptually and/or technically. So I try to work with people who understand my approach and value the power of design as a strategic, creative way to change and develop brands.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I’m an independent designer helping companies stand out and captivate their audiences. In recent years I’ve often been called in to bring in a fresh perspective to tricky situations: I call this designing boldly, when you can’t just turn it up. There are always other factors to consider, and just making it bigger or louder won’t suffice.
Most of my work is centered around branding, publications, or campaigns, yet I regularly push outside set parameters. I’m known for my sense of style and making the impossible possible. My work is often recognized for the typography and depth – or “eccentric minimalism” as a colleague once called it.
What are your plans for the future? What are you looking forward to or planning for – any big changes?
To keep going! Keep pushing for more creative work, perhaps branch out to new industries. I’m also curious to adventure deeper into installations and spatial design, so we shall see how that will affect my work.
- Website: laurasuuronen.com
- Instagram: laurasuuronen
Erin Marie Miller, Laura Suuronen