Winner of the American Swiss billboard competition, and recent Vega graduate, Nicole Reichlin is inspired by the sentiment that “chance favours the prepared mind”, first uttered by famous French microbologist and chemist Louis Pasteur. She utilised her time as student to hone her copywriting talent, and for her final project sought to address the infamous debate of which is most preferable; long vs short copy. Nicole loves the combination of psychological and philosophical elements in advertising and spoke to us about her business ambitions, favourite projects to date and what excites her about the entering the industry. 

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How and why did you become interested in copywriting? 

I’ve always loved creative writing and conceptual thinking. It’s pretty much the only thing I enjoyed about school academically speaking. Admittedly, I didn’t put a helluva lot of effort into my school career, but I adored English. Believe it or not, I had no idea that creative writing had a place in advertising, and so it wasn’t until much later that I was ‘enlightened’ and decided to specialise in copywriting.   

Who or what inspires your creativity? 

Inspiration is a tricky little beast to tame. It exists everywhere and nowhere and is dependent on so many variants. I still haven’t figured out its movements and I don’t believe I ever will. What I can say for sure is that I’m hugely inspired by passion – be it my own or somebody else’s. Where there’s passion, there’s creativity.    

Please tell us about some of the themes and ideas that you’ve been exploring in your student work. 

What I love about Vega is that within the briefs that are provided, students have free reign to take the work wherever they like. The themes that I explored in my work were things that I’m personally passionate about and drawn to. I really enjoyed playing within my specialisation and finding ways to execute both long and short copy.

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How did this feed into your final project? What was the concept and how did you execute it? 

For my final project, the curation and packaging of my work was fueled by the long-standing debate between copywriters: “which is better, long or short copy?”. This led me down the rabbit hole of the ‘more or less, less is more, more is more’ dispute, which was quite fun. It resulted in my final execution being based on the idea that as a writer, you need to possess a certain sensitivity or ‘sixth sense’ about knowing where to draw the line. And that, when it comes down to it, there really is no exact answer. It’s a horses for courses sort of thing. You really just have to feel out.

It was quite an abstract notion to work with, so I let the idea set the premise for my portfolio and the body of work therein, rather than have it overtly dominate my book. I did this by writing a bit of a ‘mind f%#k’ of a prelude and letting the ‘more or less’ idea drive all the design elements.          

Please tell us about your creative process….

God, I wish I had a process to speak of! I guess my process kind of follows the sentiment of Louis Pasteur’s “chance favours the prepared mind”. When I sit down with a new brief, I almost always start with research. I like to know what field I’m playing in, and who I’m playing with. I write pages and pages of notes. That’s my ‘preparation’. From there, I try to keep the brief top-of-mind and ‘marinate’ in it. That way, I’m open to the elusive attack of the ‘inspiration beast’ I spoke of earlier.  After that, I basically rely on the fact that I often do my best work in the deep end, where I can see the deadline looming. That’s usually when everything I’ve been marinating in comes together and forms a solution.

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What has your experience as a student been like? What valuable lessons did you learn along the way? 

Hard work and dedication are byproducts of passion, so going to Vega already knowing what I wanted to achieve really did me a solid in this department. As a result, Vega taught me that hard work and dedication really does pay off. I reaped the benefits of sleepless nights and too much Red Bull by attending events like ADC International Portfolio Night and the Loeries, which were phenomenal experiences. The amount of things I learnt about myself during my three years as a student was invaluable. Working in teams, dealing with conflicting personalities and handling over-the-top and ego-driven creatives, strategists and slackers (all within in a competitive environment) was a great breeding ground for industry life.       

Describe your dream job. 

A few years ago I would never have said this, but I think my dream job would actually be to start my own business. With this comes great risk, hard work, challenge and even greater reward which are all amplified when perusing a passion project. This is majorly attractive to me. Also, Cape Town is the perfect city for start-ups.   

What’s the best advice you received while studying?

To not base my worth or talent on grades and to use my time in college to explore and create cool shit, rather than focus on ‘getting it right’. I have plenty of time to worry about that when someone’s actually paying me a salary.

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You were part of the editorial team of Vega’s new online publication ‘Fresh Cream’. What inspired the project and your involvement in it? 

The brief we received was to create an indie publication that focused on a specific niche. It was wide open and quite overwhelming to begin with, but the main inspiration behind ‘Fresh Cream’ was to create something real. Something that would potentially add value to the students of Vega in a real way, rather than merely create a hypothetical publication. This was really exciting and ambitious; therefore, probably the project I learnt the most from purely because we were dealing with digital and live social media aspects. I was fortunate enough to work alongside incredibly talented and motivated students and, together we got really into it, resulting in work that we’re all super proud of.    

 What excites you most about working in the industry? 

 I’m so attracted to this industry because of its responsive nature. It’s constantly evolving and re-shaping based on the needs, wants and progressions of society. I feel like philosophy and psychology have a large role to play in communications and that really turns me on. Then there’s all the interesting people you get to meet and collaborate with, as well as all the cool stuff you get you learn/write about.

Keep up with Nicole on Behance.

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