“Eastern Europeans Are More Agile, Responsible and Have Big Ambitions”

An Interview with Lithuanian Designer Tomas Laurinavicius

Lithuanian designer Tomas Laurinavicius’s success is the perfect example of how one should build a career so it’s not a surprise why I was mainly interested in his career path and his opinion on design concerning the Eastern / Central European region.

Let’s start! How did you get into design?
It all started in high school in late 2007. I was very interested in building things, and the idea of building my own website was very exciting. I decided to give up games and started digging into Photoshop. At the very beginning it was really hard to figure out complex interface but the friendly Photoshop community provided loads of tutorials online that helped me to progress quickly. After a couple of months of playing around I did my first paid job, an animated banner, and I realized that design could also be a job not just a hobby. Since that time I’ve never quit design and not really thinking about it yet.

You do a lot of things based on your website and online presence. How do you find time to do all these activities?
I think it all comes down to routine, discipline and priorities. I always experiment with different productivity methods, techniques and tools in order to find the most effective formula for myself.

My current morning routine that affects 80% of my daily productivity is as follows:

  • waking up at 5:30 am
  • spending 10 minutes on daily planning and setting up a to-do list
  • eating high-protein breakfast (most of the times 6 scrambled eggs with one yolk, bean, tomato) and coffee
  • working on an important task until 7 am (designing, writing)
  • going for a run (around 5 km)
  • exercising (usually going to the gym, but when on the road doing some body weight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, crunches etc.)
  • second breakfast and work

I’ve also set priorities to myself and try to focus on these. My main priority is happiness, for example, that is why I’ve quit high-paid job in London to build my own products and travel the world.

Experimenting is what leads to unexpected opportunities and more happiness. Last year I decided to take a 30-day writing challenge on Medium with an intent to prepare myself for writing a book. It was challenging but also rewarding at the same time. After 30 days I had 30 articles, positive feedback and more creative confidence for the book. In August my first book, Mobile Design Book, co-authored with Paula Borowska was released.

You spent one month in Budapest. Why did you travel here and what did you do in the Hungarian capital actually?
I have started my world tour of slow travelling. What I mean with it is that I travel to one city, settle down for couple weeks or a month, do the work and try to live as a local as well as explore the surroundings in my free time. It saves money on accommodation if I try to rent apartments as locals would do. By spending more time in the city you can see the real face of it, and this allows you to experience the vibe of the place.

I am travelling with my best friend Justas Markus who is also my business partner at our startup called Refe, a stock photo marketplace of natural-looking photos of people interacting with technology.

We came to Budapest as it is considered one of the most beautiful European cities and also because it is relatively cheap compared to Western Europe.

What do you think about the Hungarian design scene?
I cannot speak about the design in general but my opinion on digital design and startups is very positive. I tried to meet with a couple of designers, whom I’d found on Dribbble, and organise meetups but most of them were on vacation or not in town at that time so I didn’t have the chance to meet them in person. I admire what some of the biggest Hungarian startup successes like Prezi are doing, it’s literally thinking outside the box, and bringing innovation and fun to our world. There is no such thing as business life and personal life, people are always people and products like Prezi help to get rid of that gap.

What would you say about Hungary compared to Lithuania concerning the approach to design?
Both countries are relatively young in the industry but are doing incredible progress, meaning becoming more open-mined and global. I would say design in both countries is evolving and influenced mostly by Western culture.

How do you see the Eastern / Central European design scene in fact?
During the last couple of years I’ve spent some time studying in Denmark, working in England and doing some remote work with Americans, and I would say Eastern Europeans are more agile, responsible and have big ambitions. Most importantly, Eastern / Central European designers have the capacity of proving that due to the fact that they are as talented as and can be as successful as their Western contemporaries.

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journalist, editor & film critic; cinema, design, books & music; human rights, typography & Nordics [Content in English & Hungarian] | Website: barbaramajsa.com