New Talent: Marusa Ojstersek
Originally from Slovenia, Marusa Ojstersek is a self-described ‘born again creative’. She began her career in the music industry, hosting shows for RTV Slovenija 2 and reporting on the country’s underground music scene. But after studying Communications at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana, Marusa decided to up sticks and move to London, looking to hone her creative skills.
After working as a creative placement at GTB and Southpaw, she was permanently hired at London agency ZAK as a Content Creator. LBB’s Liam Smith caught up with Marusa to chat about her former life as a TV host and to find out her creative goals going forward.
LBB> You’re originally from Slovenia. What was it like growing up there, and how did creativity impact your younger years?
Marusa Ojstersek> Slovenia is a beautiful country, but it’s very small and our school system is more supportive of sciences and sport than creative activities. As kids, we were always told that being creative would only make you a starving artist.
When I was growing up we didn’t have a drama class at school, or after-school art classes. So, me and my friends organised creative get-togethers where we practiced different types of performing. Everybody thought we were crazy. But I always had a passion for music, performance, dancing and drawing. You know, I wrote my first book when I was six and my first song when I was eight. I use the words book and song loosely... They lacked craftsmanship, of course, but the passion was there. It made my mum very proud. I am very lucky to have always been surrounded by friends who share the same interests, and even if we had no support from our school system, we always inspired each other.
LBB> You actually come from a music and TV background, hosting your own show and working as a field reporter for a few different stations. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
MO> I started out in the music business in 2006. Since then I have hosted five TV shows with my proudest achievement being Videozid on our national TV station, RTV Slovenija 2. Besides hosting, I was also a journalist doing reports and interviews covering everything from our underground scene to all the major concerts and festivals around our country and in neighbouring countries.
After my first three years in the business I became a music editor on Slovenia’s commercial television TV3 and on the first students' web television, Šouvizija. I did enjoy it a lot, but as I mentioned in the beginning, Slovenia is a very small market for creativity. After six years I felt I did a 360 when it comes to the choice of TV stations that had potential for quality musical content. The need for change become obvious.
LBB> Are there any skills from that period of your life that help you creatively in your current role?
MO> How to be fearless. When I got my first job as a presenter, I had no formal training and literally got pushed into hosting a live one hour TV show every day. It’s sink or swim. I learnt as quickly as possible and the show was successfully aired for a year and a half, until the whole production on the station ended. When I became a music editor of the first students' web television in Slovenia, I learnt how to be a successful self-starter. I was given the task of creating a music programme from scratch. I managed the creative development of the programme (came up with the content, individual categories, name and theme for the overall image). And overall, I realised that I thrive on hard work. When I get into a working routine, doing what I love in a creative, collegial environment, I believe great things happen (even if it means working overtime).
LBB> What made you decide to move from your home country to the UK?
MO> Education, which would lead to new opportunities. Back home I studied Communications at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana but left in the second year as I was a bit bored. We were bombarded with theory and were given very little opportunity for practical learning.
Still, it was the first time I was introduced to the advertising craft. It was only a module, but I instantly knew I wanted to take it further. But in Slovenia there was no curriculum dedicated specifically to advertising and I did want a university degree. So, I applied to the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, UK, and got accepted. I did a year as an introduction to Art & Design and after a Bachelor Degree in Creative Advertising.
LBB> How did you end up in advertising, and later joining the team at ZAK?
MO> I’ve always been inspired by smart, imaginative ads, which not only sell a product well, but also inspire with their artistically innovative imagery and the powerful portrayal of their meaning. They evoke a desire in me to create work with impact. The module at my University in Slovenia sparked that even more and made me pursue a career in advertising.
After I graduated from UCA, I began working as a creative placement at GTB and Southpaw. I also participated in a creative competition by the Daniel Marks Recruitment agency, and because I was successful, I got in touch with ZAK.
LBB> Earlier this year, ZAK launched the Selfhood insight network. Can you tell our readers a little about what it is, and how you contributed to it?
MO> Our Selfhood network is a collection of 150 culturally tuned-in people across 25 countries, all of whom are early adopters/creators. In addition, we have a further 1000 support cast of under 30s on our Instagram channel who use this platform to express themselves creatively through content.
We monitor the impact of culture on the fixed traits of youth through our network to continuously understand the implications for brands globally. We use the network to create, curate, test and learn for our clients; insight at the speed of culture.
My role was to help recruit both the insights network and to manage and engage with consumers on the Instagram channel.
LBB> What other projects have you been involved in that you’re most proud of?
MO> A few months ago, I participated in my first pitch creating videos, research, and design. I’m really involved in filming and photography at the moment, contributing to all pitch presentations and recently I also captured and edited content for the OnSide charity ZAK is working with.
LBB> Outside of work, what do you like to get up to?
MO> Music has always been my initial passion. I’ve dedicated my life to it, from exploring styles, concerts, festivals, and subcultures, while being in the constant pursuit for my next favourite band. And some things never change. So outside of the office, you’ll probably find me at a music venue.
LBB> What are your aims for 2018?
MO> Keep learning.