Future Landscapes
Design, Visualization & Photography

Live from Berlin

What is it like to live and work in the Hauptstadt? A Canadian designer’s unique perspective on finding work and having fun in Berlin.

Working a Thankless Job.

So apparently the lustre of being employed lasts approximately 1 hour before you are like: I wish I was still unemployed, sitting around in my PJ's and pining for work. This working stuff is so lame.

Going on day 6 of helping with a competition at Nieto Sobejano. I am responsible for making the visualisations (i.e. photoshopping raw renders until they look like a giant pile of winning.) You'd think this would be fairly simple, but approximately 15 hours of work per image would like to argue otherwise. 

FACT: I love it when people think photoshop is a design tool.

Person who has never used photoshop and is somehow in a position of authority:

We left these buildings blank because we didn't know what was going there. Can you just photoshop some concrete textures on it?

(building is a series of bends and circles). 

**NOTE** The person actually means:

Can you make this building look like we designed it instead of just plopping in one of our already built projects? Like with windows, roof, doors, mullions, and realistically shaded details?)

~5 hours later: after complex tiling and warping of 'concrete texture' to fit building~

Person who has never used photoshop:

I'm not really sure I like that texture. Can you just put another one on?


Hey, it's not like we're under a deadline here. Jed and I were supposed to do 3 images each, but since he's been constantly asked to work on other things, I've done 5 out of 6 so far. And, they were all supposed to be finished by Wednesday but... you know. Deadlines are for suckers. Or people who want to win.

All in all, I'm enjoying having some work to do even if it's just photoshop. I actually have great responsibility here because these images will probably be what people remember the most from the competition. Funny how architecture firms always farm out these really imporant things to other people. 

I would show you what I'm working on, but I really don't think I'm allowed until the competition results have come in. 


Almost a year after this post, it has sunk in for me completely how utterly exploited I was in this competition. I was paid 400 euros total for 6 visualizations. I had 8 days to finish these visuals. There were no computers to use at Nieto Sobejano's office because they only had one photoshop license, so I had to use my own computer at home. They also told me there was no possibility to get hired after completing the visuals.

To tell the whole story, there was a professional renderer hired to make the visuals, but he had too much work to do with the movie that also needed to be done. This was mainly because Nieto Sobejano did not arrive at a design solution until the very last minute - I have since learned that this is typical of design firms. Because of this, I received 6 raw renders from him that looked like this:


And in about 12-15 hours of photoshop per image, I turned them into this:


The company went on to win the competition. The professional renderer was paid his fee, which is typically in the range of 1200 - 2000 euro PER IMAGE. 

I was not given a bonus for the work I did. I was not given recognition for the work I did. I was never fairly remunerated for the work I did.

At the time I was desperate - hoping to get experience and exposure and possibly a recommendation from the firm along with a little money. I didn't know how much visuals actually cost. I just wanted to feel useful, like I was getting somewhere with my job search and it seemed like a golden opportunity to work for such a well-regarded firm.

My advice for you desperate creatives out there.... I know how it feels to be pushed to extremes when it comes to your job search. I know how it feels to be used for skills that most architects don't bother with. I know how it feels to be treated like a disposable part. DO NOT ACCEPT LESS THAN YOUR WORTH. It only makes companies feel that they can continue their unacceptable behavior with impunity. 

You can view the finished visuals here.