PROFESSIONAL PORTFOLIO

Hi, I'm Laura!

I’m a designer, researcher and teacher with a hands on approach. In this portfolio, I present my professional skills, strengths and ambitions by describing some of the previous projects that helped me to build my professional skill set.

PREVIOUS PROJECTS

lessons learned &
skills ACQUIRED

Design researcher in Aalto University 2012-2021

Project overview

I defended my doctoral thesis in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in April 2021. My thesis, “The Cycle of Creative Resources”, offers a new way to think about creative resources that will help people to achieve and sustain creative well-being. In my thesis, I used different qualitative and quantitative research methods to find out how creative professionals experience the creative process. The conclusions of the thesis are presented in the form of visual models, that emerged from the conducted studies.

I propose in my thesis that creativity in itself does not increase or diminish in a person – creativity is always there, ready to be used and explored. What increases or decreases are the creative resources. This, I propose, is at the core of creative well-being.

Download the thesis:
To view the full thesis as a downloadable pdf: click here

Location:
Department of Media / Visual Communication Design, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Lessons learned
  • Trust the process and trust your intuition  – it will lead you to the answers you are looking for, but also to the ones you didn’t even know you were looking for.
  • When you ask someone to talk about his entire creative career of forty years, be prepared to a 4,5 hour interview (eat in advance, embrace the subtle art of interrupting).
  • Trust yourself. If you know you are onto something, you are onto something.
Skills acquired
  • Analytics & research skills.
  • Understanding the “bigger picture”.
  • Interviewing skills.
  • Reading “in between the lines”  –  understanding the deeper meaning of the answers received.
  • Presentation and lecturing for international audiences.
  • International collaboration & global networking.
  • Visualization, design & creative thinking.
  • Project coordination & time management.
  • Coordinating & applying external funding.
  • Argumentation skills.
  • Presenting & cooperating remotely.

Designing and organizing global conferences

Project overview

In charge of designing and organizing several international conferences and seminars  – aimed at professional designers as well as students  –  in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. For the ”Illustrator Living in Global Village” seminar (organized in 2016) I created a network of five high-profile universities in the Nordic countries and in United Kingdom. I also negotiated Finnish professional organizations as collaborative partners for the event. Furthermore, I invited the keynote speakers to the event – the leading Nordic illustrators – and hosted the event.

The Illustrator Living in Global Village was later launched also at the University of Gothenburg. Other professional events that I have designed and organized, include, for example, the ”Illustrator as an Author” seminar (organized in 2014) at the Helsinki City Hall.

Locations:

  • Department of Media, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture
  • Helsinki City Hall
  • Teurastamo, Helsinki
  • University of Gothenburg
Lessons learned
  • If one of the leading Danish illustrators calls you at 3am, pick up the phone. It might be because he cannot enter his hotel, not because he misses your company.
  • It is completely OK to ask for help, instead of trying to do everything yourself.
  • The event can be a great success, even if your slideshow freezes the very moment it really, really shouldn’t. Your ability to creative thinking will never fail you – it will never freeze.
Skills acquired
  • International collaboration & global networking.
  • Project coordination & time management.
  • Coordinating & applying external funding.
  • Understanding the “bigger picture”.
  • Creative thinking.
  • Team building & leadership.
  • Working under pressure and in fast-paced work environments.
  • Teamwork skills and social intelligence.

Creating and facilitating several courses in Aalto University

Project overview

Creating, coordinating, facilitating and teaching multiple courses and workshops in both Finnish and English for master and bachelor level students.  In charge of launching the first ever Illustration Minor studies at the Department of Media. In charge of the strategic development of the courses and study modules. In charge of recruiting and supervising visiting lecturers. Building and leading pedagogical teams. Collaborating with multiple local and global corporations, organizations and other universities throughout the courses. Improving the content of the courses and elevating the learning paths based on the achieved results, and by analyzing the written and oral feedback collected from the students and faculty.

Locations:

  • Department of Media, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Courses: Illustration Minor (combination of three courses), Illustration Studio.
  • Department of Art, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Courses: Professional Skills for a Designer, Art Meets Business (in collaboration with Aalto University School of Business).
Lessons learned
  • It is important that a teacher is able to provide concrete skills for the students to achieve their goals.
  • However, it is much more important to help the students to use their intellectual and emotional capabilities as well as they can, so that they can live richer and more meaningful lives, so that in the end, they can be happier, more innovative and more productive in their work as well.
  • When a design student looks like he’s so not focusing on the lecture, he’s so focusing on the lecture. A doodling designer is a listening designer.
Skills acquired
  • Presentation, lecturing & education in Finnish and English.
  • Team building & leadership.
  • Teamwork skills and social intelligence.
  • International collaboration.
  • Time Management.
  • Analytics & research skills.
  • Understanding the “bigger picture”.
  • Argumentation skills.
  • Creative thinking.
  • Presenting & cooperating remotely.

Supervising MA thesis processes in Aalto University

Project overview

In charge of supervising and examining close to 200 MA theses of Aalto University throughout 2011-2021. Both one-on-one and group mentoring.

Helping the students to figure out the core and goal of their a) learning process, b) design process and c) research process, and to find the suitable research methods for their work. Turning the limitless and endlessly expanding possibilities into specified strategies with a clearly defined, yet open-ended and constantly evolving direction (see the illustration beside: before/after).

Locations:

  • Department of Media, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture
  • Department of Art, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture
  • Department of Design, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Lessons learned
  • One can make an excellent research about typography by growing mushrooms in a laboratory surrounding.
  • Even the most disorganized and seemingly confusing ideas can be turned into a logical, reliable and relevant design/research process with extraordinary outcomes.
  • Everybody knows what they want in the end, even when that desire is hidden somewhere deep in between the lines. By listening carefully and learning to read the gaps, it is possible to hear that desire and the deeper meaning behind the spoken language.
Skills acquired
  • Mentoring skills and social intelligence.
  • Reading “in between the lines”  –  understanding the deeper meaning of the answers received.
  • Recognizing the core from the “bigger picture”.
  • Helping others to recognize their own strengths and to improve their work.
  • Presentation, lecturing & education for international audiences.
  • Analytics & research skills.
  • Presenting and cooperating remotely.
  • Argumentation skills.
  • Teamwork and leadership skills.

Running my own company as a designer 2007-2021

Project overview

Being in charge of illustrating, designing and organizing large and complex design projects, for example, picturebook projects and website renewals throughout 2007-2021. Handling entrepreneurial tasks: innovation and improvement of the products, planning, implementing and monitoring projects, time management, social media marketing, website improvement, finances and networking. Improving the design process by analyzing the service journey of all the stakeholders.

Clients, for example: Finnish Post Group Ltd, WSOY, Suomen Latu Ry, Turun linna, Embassy of Finland in Paris, Karisto Ltd, Putinki Ltd, Aalto University and Minerva Kustannus Ltd. Representing the clients in several design events and book fairs, for example, Helsinki Book Fair, Frankfurt Book Fair and Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Location:
Trade name Laura Valojärvi / Tmi Laura Valojärvi. For more illustrations: click here.

Lessons learned
  • You still have time, when you still have time. However, the deadline is the real king of the hill, and there’s no way around it.
  • Thomas Edison said: “Creativity is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration”. He was right.
  • It is completely possible to recover from a work-related creative burnout, even though it may require giving birth to two babies and moving to Copenhagen for a couple of years.
Skills acquired
  • Visualization & design thinking.
  • Understanding the “bigger picture”.
  • Creative thinking.
  • Project coordination & time management.
  • Working under pressure and in fast-paced work environments.
  • Coordinating & applying external funding.
  • Cooperating remotely.
  • Entrepreneurial skills.
  • Teamwork skills.

Designing live graphics for MTV3 and SubTV

Project overview

Working as an art director and graphic designer in various live TV shows throughout 2001-2003. Ensuring that the visual material supports the underlying message and the ambiance of the programs. Making fast-paced design decisions under extreme pressure during the live broadcasts. Solving complex visual problems and renewing the graphic layout of the programs. Collaborating with the whole production team, as well as the interviewees and other stakeholders.

Locations:

  • MTV3: Jyrki, Jyrki Countdown, Mol.fi
  • SubTV: Tuubi, Ensi-ilta
Lessons learned
  • Even though someone shouts at you at the top of his lungs, it doesn’t mean that you are doing your work badly or that you are a bad person. It just means that the person shouting is extremely stressed.
  • A catastrophic mistake for a perfectionist is a mistake no-one else will even notice.
  • Work is not a synonym for “not fun”. You can have fun, so much fun, while at work.
Skills acquired
  • Working under extreme pressure and in fast-paced work environments.
  • Visualization & design thinking.
  • Understanding the “bigger picture”.
  • Creative thinking.
  • Project coordination & time management.
  • Teamwork skills and social intelligence.

I would love to hear from you

Call Me

+358 45 630 6111

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