Mind at Work: Associate Creative Director Britta Hernalsteen

Whenever possible, we like to sit down with one of our creative minds at VSA to find out what inspires them. In a world where there’s constantly pressure to “produce, produce, produce,” it’s important to stop and reflect on the special people, places and things that actually drive our creativity.

Today, VSA Associate Creative Director Britta Hernalsteen sheds light on the four things that inspire her and help her do what she does.

1. Word Nerd

When I start thinking about a design problem, I turn to words more often than I sketch. I started this process in college. I always had my Roget’s Super Thesaurus nearby. Sometimes I just write pages of words and phrases to spark visual inspiration. It’s a quick way for me to get it all out and clear the way.

2. Oh the Places You’ll Go

Travel is important to me, whether it’s to a foreign country or to a different state. I like to see how other people live, to compare my normal to someone else’s normal. It forces me to challenge my own expectations and venture outside my comfort zone—two practices also important in design.

3. Ye Olde Books

I don’t really like accumulating stuff, but one weakness I have is old books. Particularly the pre-1900, illustrated types. If I see a dusty used bookstore, I have to check it out. My best items so far are two People’s Library books from 1888. I love design and printing techniques from that era.

4. The Sound of Silence

Daily life brings a lot of over-stimulation. I relish quiet moments. I never listen to music or podcasts when I walk or workout. I try not to look at my phone incessantly. I need some quietness in my day to just be. To process and observe. So many times after these stints of “nothing,” I remember something important or find a solution.