Detail of lettering on a studio wall

Veega Studio mural

Ten years after graduating from BA Graphic & Media Design, Ewa Lefmann set up her own studio and has been studying again. We catch up with her to find out about her experiences, her approach to design and advice for students…

– What course are you doing now and where? What is your main area of study/interest?
I am doing the study abroad course that is 1 term long (15/16 weeks) at Elisava in Barcelona, until April 25th. You can choose 3-6 modules for the course across the field of design. I chose interiors, furniture & product design, and food design as I was interested in pivoting my graphic design practice into a more interactive and spatial direction.

– Best things about the course you are now on?
I love their ‘tapas style’ approach to doing a short course, and I love that the course gives you a framework for trying out living abroad for a while. You meet a lot of interesting people and are away from home, but not for so long that you have to completely uproot or commit. And actually, it made me realise that I want to get back into teaching and I definitely do not want to do a masters any time soon!

However, the course is also advertised to students who are still completing their BA study, as a sort of ‘semester abroad’. So whilst I have no regrets and have really enjoyed the overall experience of living in Barcelona, I wouldn’t recommend the course to anyone who’s been working more than 4/5 years. ELISAVA hasn’t quite figured out how to make the course syllabus simultaneously applicable to both those who have a professional design background and someone who hasn’t graduated yet. It’s a shame as it would be such a genius idea to provide this time and space to professionals who want to pivot their design career and network with people across the world, whilst making cool work! A missed opportunity, I feel.

– Any reflections on your time studying on BA GMD?
I really loved my third year of BA GMD at LCC. We got our own floor in the tower block that we could really own, the projects were broad and varied, and I felt like I was finally getting into the swing of things. And I got to go to Bilbao to collect an award for one of my second year projects!

I’ve been reflecting on this a lot since returning to university – LCC’s facilities, especially for printing, are incredible. I loved printing one of my final year projects on the litho press and hand-binding and finishing each book using the school’s machines. But other than that I think I took the facilities for granted a little, and wish I’d used them more.

I think design is for everyone and we should avoid designing things that only other designers can understand.

– How has your work/approach evolved since?
I remember at uni spending the first two years really trying to avoid traditional graphic design. And then in third year I decided I should finally do some graphic design and did a lot of books, which I really loved. I spent the first few years of my career working in publishing and teaching bookbinding and printing as a design technician at Chelsea College of Arts, a job I actually obtained via Arts Temps! Then I spent some years moving more into the brand space, working at design studios and in house for PROPER, and since then I’m interested in how I can make my work more interactive and 3D again.

But the consistent themes in my practice, throughout all the different types of design jobs and sub-disciplines I’ve tried, is my approach to colour, keeping design expressive, illustrative and accessible. I also have a keen interest in mentoring and design education. I approach each project with the view that design is for everyone and we should avoid designing things that only other designers can understand.

– Do you have any current projects you want to tell us about? (such as setting up your own studio!)
Yes! I have recently repositioned my freelance practice as a studio – and the work involved in this is a lot and ongoing. It’s not just about re-branding and making a new website, I’m having to learn a lot more about running and growing a business. It’s a lot but I’m really proud of how it’s going so far!

Make some weird shit! Subvert the briefs! Use those facilities!

– Any tips for current GMD students?
I think when I was at uni (10 years ago now!) the ‘holy grail’ of design jobs was to join a studio, and anything else was kinda seen as a bit of a failure. As someone that’s tried a bit of everything, studios are my least favourite type of design job to work within (at least, on a full time permanent basis). Whilst they can provide amazing learning opportunities, sometimes they can create really toxic environments, with little processes in place to protect the welfare of their employees.

  • Keep an open mind with design jobs, and try loads! Work for a brand, freelance, try studios, try teaching! See what works for you, your needs and your practice at the time, and your goals will become clear. And remember that interviews are a two-way assessment.
  • Secondly – enjoy your time on GMD meeting people and making work you’re really proud of. Make some weird shit! Subvert the briefs! Use those facilities!
  • Thirdly – keep doing personal projects. Projects without clients and without restrictions – throughout your career. Collaborate with friends, help each other out. This is where you can really show off your unique view of the world and these projects can really help you land a job that’s right for you.

Detail of lettering on a studio wall

Veega Studio mural

Mock up of steak packaging

The Future Fridge (with The Liminal Space)

skincare jar packaging

Studio Evka: Dewgood

Wine bottle carrier

Studio Evka: You Bring The Wine


Studio Evka: Evka Home