Ulla Havenga

Ulla Havenga studied art in Vienna, and then she did a Master's degree in Exhibition Design to hone her skills and to give her confidence for the world of work.


Key data

Job description: Designer (all-rounder)
Company: Z SPACE, Performing Arts Center, San Francisco
I have been working in Dublin and San Francisco since 2012.
My contact:
Me on the Web: oops, site under construction

What I do

Current job title: Communications Designer & Audience Development Associate.
In San Francisco I oversee the development of visual communication for Z SPACE – from graphic design to marketing, fund raising and social media all the way to the website and videos. I also work part time as a design consultant for various theatres and festivals around the world: Dublin Theatre Festival, Mermaid Arts Centre, FoolsFury, Encore Theatre, LizzRoman Dance, etc.

Why I love my job

  • Creativity
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Challenges

Important skills in my job

  • An eye for detail
  • A sense of aesthetics and a feel for people
  • The courage to be flexible
  • Knowledge of software applications such as Adobe Creative Suite, CMS programs, etc.

My biggest accomplishment so far

Over the course of the past four years I gave Z SPACE a visual identity. I made audience development / cultivation & research the rules of the house and I brought structure and transparency to the eclectic chaos. Overnight I slipped into the world of theatre. But it's always wonderful when you discover that you can work across genres!

I most of all like working for institutions that find it difficult to stand up to major well-funded opponents – non-profit! There is a lot you can achieve through creativity. It's nice to work somewhere where you are really needed, where you can change things and, most of all, improve things.

How I found my current job

I ONLY ever apply for jobs on my own initiative. When I come to a new city, the first thing I do is find out all about the creative scene there. When I find a company that interests me, I get in touch with them and pop in to see them. When I meet them personally, I ask questions and talk about my interests and skills. My approach is quite simple: "This is me and this is what I can do. Do you need me?" This way I avoid the local competition and act outside any kind of routine. So far this has worked wonderfully!

What I learned for this job during my studies

I studied art in Vienna, and then I did a Master's degree in Exhibition Design to hone my skills and to give me confidence for the world of work. I learnt a lot of technical skills such as software applications, printing techniques and materials, but also soft skills and social skills such as communication and teamwork. I made friends for life and whenever possible I like to pay a visit to FH JOANNEUM.

Job prospects in my field

I try to keep rediscovering my profession, that's why it's hard to say what my specific opportunities are. I think that if you know what you're doing, if you're enthusiastic, open and positive, your chances are good. You will be in demand in my area especially as an all-rounder who can slip into a variety of roles and is versatile.

I am

  • a yes-person
  • enthusiastic
  • flexible

About my job

My job is very much interwoven with my private life. I try not to think about it as a career too much, because that only makes you tense. I prefer developing naturally. That makes more sense to me and, above all, it's more fun.

My tip for future graduates

You should practice not being frightened in your job and sometimes jump in at the deep end. When I was abroad things were easiest for me, because there you are in a neutral zone, so to speak. It helps you get used to making mistakes. You grow and learn very quickly this way.

And what else? A good education, whether you get a degree or not, a positive and open approach, that's what prepares you best for any job. And that's when the unexpected and exciting commissions and projects will come your way. Networking is very important, the more natural the better – what's important is that you like each other, and a few glasses of red wine :-)

At work: make yourself indispensable – how? The more unique and authentic you are the more indispensable you will be.