Today, we are joined by Peter Jaworowski. He is a Executive Creative Director and Partner at Ars Thanea  You can view his portfolio here.

  • Tell us about your graphic design career. How did you break into graphic design, and how did you advance to where you are today?

Everything started back in 2004 when I was really into multiplayer games and my only dream was to become a professional Quake 2 player. My friend showed me an early version of Paint Shop Pro 6 then. I liked it enough to get interested in this subject a little more, and switch into Photoshop 7. I was testing it, mixing images with textures and stock photos, etc. I enjoyed it so much that I have started to experiment which led me to doing it on a daily basis and first freelance projects. Then I got my first job and I worked full time in the agency for three months. This was the place where I have met my future partners and straight after leaving the company we started to run the Ars Thanea. It was year 2007 when Bartlomiej Rozbicki, Pawel Piotrzkowski and I started new venture. Now there are over 65 people on board and only seven years have passed. Very much looking forward to what future will bring.

  • What do you enjoy most about your career?

There is no boredom. Every single project is different and you need to look into creative and production side, to think how it can be accomplished. You can work with amazingly talented people on both – still and motion projects – which is something you can not do in a regular job. Working in a creative industry is a thing that I couldn’t exchange. I love getting to know new people and the creatives are open and vivid people. Of course it has some disadvantages, sometimes short deadlines keep you working late hours or produce stressful moments, but it’s a thing I can live with.

  • What were the biggest inspirations for your career?

I have met really incredible artists, designers and entrepreneurs so far. Few of them, like Robert Lindstrom, Matias Corea or Marco Seiler inspired me in many ways which not always revolve around design itself but the way of thinking, an overall approach of life.

  •  What are some favorite projects you’ve completed and why?

Years passed but I still have the sentiment to one of the very few first Client projects I did as a freelancer back in 2008. It was a first big Client job for Nike Poland and Nike Air Lab Exhibition here in Warsaw. I was asked to create two huge key visuals that would cover almost entire building of the exhibition. The trick was I didn’t receive any high quality materials and I had only 4 days to deliver final work. But since it was THE project with hard nights work I managed to deliver it. What appeared later on, people and the Client really loved it so much that It opened many doors for me and also led to a big PlayStation 3 lunch campaign in UK.

  •  Tell us about your graphic design education. How did you decide to study graphic design?

It is actually a very funny thing. I didn’t study graphic design. An advertising and production itself are pretty new industries here in Poland,  therefore there is no professional education that could help you start with. All I know about graphic design, advertising and production comes from my own experience and many sleepless nights while experimenting with Photoshop and its tools. What’s fascinating that we have so many super talented designers and artists in Poland and almost all of them are the self-thought in those disciplines.

  • In retrospect, what do you know now that you wish you knew before you pursued your graphic design education?

The fact that in many ways being a designer and/or working in an advertising field, would require a huge psychological knowledge. Not only when you try to read your customers mind, but also on a daily basis, dealing with the Client’s or your colleges.

  • Based on what you hear in the industry, what do you think are the most respected and prestigious schools, departments or programs? Does graduating from a prestigious school make a difference in landing a good job?

I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Hyper Island and Beck-mans from Sweden. Both focus mostly on digital design and they release highly trained students every year. In most cases before the students finish their courses they already got job or internship proposals. Many of them which I know from back in the days are up in the agencies ranks now. On the other hand, during the entire 7 years that we run Ars Thanea, we never hired someone because of the degree. Mostly because there is no proper education as I mentioned before, but also because portfolio and applicants characteristics where the things that we were looking for in long term cooperation.

  •  How can prospective graphic design students assess their skill and aptitude?

The best solution is always reach to graphic design professionals for advice. Nowadays there are many conferences, meet ups or just websites (like Behance) which allow you to do so. Talking to people like that will give you a better understanding of the requirements on the desired graphic design position as well as can point you in to a right direction. Some may ask, what if i tried it and no one got back to me because they are busy. Well… I didn’t say it’s easy but in my opinion if you really want something you should try multiply times or send the same request to a few designers of your kind or go to a conference and just talk the guy. Trust me, there’s always a way unless you really want it.

  • What can students applying to graphic design schools do to increase their chances of being accepted?

I’m probably not the best person to answer this question since I didn’t get any design education myself. But as a mentor-teacher I would expect to see potential from the applicant. It could be achieved by showing the examples of a different experiments your portfolio which clearly state, that you are thinking, you are willing to learn and to make progress. So many times people with less talent and bigger willingness to learn, are far more better than talented people who don’t want to move forward. Constantly making same things wont make your work better for sure. Be honest, be yourself.

  • What other advice can you give to prospective students thinking about an education and career in graphic design?

Working in the design industry requires skills, that’s a fact. The more specified they are the better. But no matter how good your skills and portfolio are, you need to keep your expectations realistic, be open for team cooperation, be nice to other people and work hard. During my career I have met so many incredibly talented people. Part of them didn’t make it because of their attitude and inability of working as a part of the team, the other part lost their way because they desired money way too much at the beginning of their journey that the potential employers didn’t treat them seriously.

  •  What exactly do you do? What are your key responsibilities?

My work title says that I am an Executive Creative Director & Founding Partner which in principle means I’m involved in all creative processes in the company, help our team to grow both as designers, illustrators but also as a people. I try to share everything that I know with the team and help to create constantly better work. Beside creative part together with company’s top management I’m responsible for strategic planing, co-managing the firm and keeping things in order. In general: I do everything everywhere I’m needed to make life easier of our team and to constantly rise the quality of product we deliver for our Clients.

  • What are the tools of the trade that you use the most?

Back in the days Photoshop was my go-to tool in any way. I spent 80% of my day playing only with this. Now… it’s far more different. I still use Photoshop for some of my daily tasks but mostly as a help to prepare a presentation or give feedback. My regular tools of trade are far more boring: Keynote and  Thunderbird.


  •  What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

As in every job, I would say that one of the most challenging aspects is working with other people. People are not robots, they think and they make mistakes. Sometimes, even the best prepared working plan just can’t predict human behavior. I would say that working late hours which may affect your private life is the second aspect. Wise man once said to me: “It’s not hard to be the richest man on a graveyard but to maintain balance between work and a private life”. After 10 years in the industry I can totally agree with that.

  • What are the hottest specialties within the graphic design field over the next decade?

I’m not a good fortune teller. But if I had to guess, I would still invest my money in digital designers. The era of digital + mobile is still spreading and I believe it will continue to do so. These are the specializations that would require creating work on many different platforms including: smart watches, mobile phones, desktops, digital glasses and many more.