Maartje Louwers: "Slowly the realization came that I can turn illustrating into my job"
Maartje Louwers never expected that after four years of working as a nurse, she would return to 'school'. However, according to her, the switch from the hospital to the full-time Graphic Design course in Zwolle has been the best decision ever. "I am now fully engaged in something that I love, isn't that fantastic?"
She had always been good at drawing, but the idea of making a living out of it never crossed Maartje Louwers' mind. "I also didn't know anyone in my surroundings with a creative job," she explains. "My mother is also a nurse, so when I finished school at the age of 17, I thought it would be a good path to follow. But I was still very young and didn't know what I really wanted." After obtaining her diploma at the age of 21, Maartje immediately started working. Soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. "During that time, I worked on the front line and witnessed people dying every day," she says. "It was truly intense."
The thought that this could become my career made me so happy."
Although the hardships during the pandemic were not the main reason Maartje decided to quit her job, they did play a role. The fact that she continued to experience the same negative feelings even after the pandemic made her reconsider. "The stress, the long hours, the workload, I was really fed up with it at some point. I got to know myself better and realized that I wasn't happy with this profession at all." Since she had been drawing her whole life and occasionally received small illustration assignments through Instagram, she gradually realized that this could also become a means of earning a living. "That thought made me so happy. I started exploring the possibilities in terms of education, and that's how things started rolling."
Friends in the same sector
While initially concerned about the age difference with her classmates, Maartje finds it all to be much better than expected. She particularly enjoys sharing her passion with fellow students. "Maybe I could have started on my own without an education," she says. "But I quickly realized that having a network in this field is very useful. Also, I could draw well, but that was about it. I lacked digital skills, for example, so I was looking for more in-depth knowledge. If I'm going to do it, I want to do it properly, so I decided to fully immerse myself." She soon met like-minded people and became friends with them. "Through the introduction days and projects like Winterlab, you also get to know people from other disciplines. Now I have friends who all work in the same sector."
Intrinsic motivation to make a switch
While her life used to consist of irregular hours and constant rushing, Maartje now experiences much more peace. She still works as a nurse, but it's now a part-time job. And she has her weekends free. "It's wonderful," she laughs. "I'm now doing something I love and surrounded by people who inspire me. I spend the whole day talking about my passion and being taught by teachers who know the field inside out. When I come home at the end of the day, I'm full of new ideas." She believes that you need to have intrinsic motivation to make such a switch in your life. "When you stand in front of the mirror at some point and ask yourself why you're still doing it, it's time for something else. Of course, it's scary, and you see obstacles in your way, but once you get through it, you quickly realize it was a good choice."
Part-time Graphic Design course
Although Maartje chose the full-time Graphic Design course, she can also understand that some people might benefit more from a part-time course Graphic Design (starting in february 2024). "What you choose depends a lot on your personal situation. I come from a completely different field of work and didn't know this world. But if, for example, you already have experience in the field and have built a network, a part-time course is also a great option. Especially if you have children or can't afford to quit your current job right away."
She has just completed her first year and still has three more years of studying ahead. "Those will definitely be very enjoyable years," says Maartje. "When I finish, I would like to work for a design agency. Some people start their own businesses, but I want to share my love for illustrating and designing with colleagues."