Click on a photo to see the story.
HELLO! Happy to see you here!
I’m Giang (pron. Zaaang) and I’m the creative director of Get Real Creative, based in Germany. And this is my creative journey ever since I’ve been a tiny bundle of chaos and joy! (Btw, it won’t be a chronology of accolades 🤣)
I started drawing Pokémons for classmates in elementary school and creating board games for other kids (yup, I was restless when it came to creativity). I joined various creative clubs that were offered in elementary school.
In 5th grade, I was among the three winners of the school logo design competition, and afterward, I continued to participate in various drawing contests outside of school.
Throughout middle and high school, I was in the school publication club, where a small team was creating monthly school magazines. I drew caricatures of teachers and was responsible for creating the layout of the magazine.
My interest in photography and retouch started when I was 16. I took photography classes in high school. And there was an excursion to Amsterdam where we were taking pictures on specific topics of choice. Those photos were presented at a vernissage and auctioned in the city hall to collect donations for a charity.
When you go to school in Germany, you’re obliged to do several internships. My first one was in a furniture firm where I learned how to conceptualize and create design proposals for clients as an interior designer. The second one was in a pharmacy where I happened to create a tea-label template when they ran out the usual labels.
I was able to get the job done because I had already been enrolled in art class in school for eight years, where I learned everything about color theory, form theory, art history, and perspective.
The funny thing is, I never was in design or communication studies. I decided to enroll in Asian studies in 2012 at Bonn University, where my path crossed with my future co-founder Janis (What a coincidence! 🤝). That’s where my journey of self-study in branding, web and graphic design began (I did take one web design class at university, though).
I started learning corporate and web design at the times when you barely found any YouTube tutorials or online classes about it. So I had no choice but to learn from paperback books most of the time.
Then I tried app design. It was back in 2014, the times before the operating systems all had their own design standards, such as material design. My first project was for the university.
That same year, I went on an adventure called Work’n’Travel 🌏 where I continued to broaden my skill sets, such as animation with After Effects, WordPress blogging, SEO optimization, and social media design.
After finishing my studies in 2017, I moved abroad to the Baltics and tried out another venture – E-Residency 🇪🇪 (we dedicated a whole page to it). Get Real Creative was born! It allowed me to become a full-time digital nomad.
2017 and 2018 were the most educational years full of lessons learned from diverse projects: from project and team management tools, strategic consulting, design thinking, sales to intercultural communication with clients and partners, and media rights in different countries.
I moved back to Germany in 2021 because of ❤️! And that’s where my base is and will be in the future.
My creative journey began by chance, but I joyfully keep on making it. I’m looking forward to new projects, new relationships with clients and partners from everywhere in this world, and sustainable growth.
If you have a question or would like to say hi, drop me a mail at [email protected] ! 🙂
- Read Janis’ story
Hi! Thank you for taking a look here!
I’m Janis (pron. YAA-nis), the technical director of Get Real Creative. In the offline world, I’m a slow-traveling digital nomad, usually found in Tallinn, Tbilisi, or Kuala-Lumpur. Here’s my little story 🙂
It begins in a far-away snowy land at a time of great changes. The old walls built on wrongful ideas were shattering, and the wind of freedom was entering the stuffy space. Yeah, I’m talking about the end of the Cold War and the post-Soviet life.
Anyways, that wind of freedom and opportunities got to me pretty quickly, and at the age of 10, I was already pursuing my first venture 🤓. I was making Russian bread snacks: from sourcing the raw material (bread; not really raw, I know) to handpicking the spices and baking the snack. And in a very German way, weighing every final pack on a miniature counterweight scale inherited from my grandfather.
That fun activity was full of lessons. In the beginning, my best friend joined me, but after the first disagreement, we became two rivals. I had to come up with a marketing strategy to give my clients (okay, classmates 😂 ) more than merely a snack, and it worked! But, it was all short-lived, and the end came from where I expected it the least, ironically: from the communist to the bone school director. That much of lessons for a 10 y.o. 🙃
At 13, my family (a single mother and me) migrated to their ancestors’ land, Germany. It was a horrifying step as it meant losing pretty much everything (it was the times before the internet when calling wasn’t always an option, and people were writing letters that took weeks to arrive). Still, it came with a chance of a better life, and for me, a chance to live at all. It’s the event of my life I am the most grateful for, and I call it my second birthday to this very day.
Shortly after that, I had the first mobile phone (Siemens M55) that I used to connect to the Russian-speaking forums from the WAP (mobile internet of those days), and that’s where I first started to learn about the World-Wide Web. Of course, there was very little information, and also reading from a 4 x 3 cm (1.57 x 1.18 in) screen was quite a challenge. But, very soon, I finally had my first PC, which was a dream come true.
Because the internet was hardly accessible and quite empty in general, I was learning from the books, and to this day, I remember my first PHP4 book (with a sneak-peek into PHP5!) of 1000+ pages that I studied from cover to cover. And because my first acquaintance with the internet was from a mobile phone, I was learning to build the mobile web from the very beginning (you can see some of those early ideas put to code on my personal website).
Just like Giang mentioned in her story, a school student in Germany has to do internships. My first and only one was in an internet cafe that was also a computer repair shop. By that time, I had already disassembled and reassembled my own computer multiple times to learn how it’s built, and at the internship, I could learn it in more detail (when I wasn’t busy getting the boss coffee or dusting the shelves 😅).
Around that same time, I started to work on the first real projects: designing, building, hosting, and maintaining mobile sites. I was part of some of the early mobile web developer communities and also offered a hosting service as a small undertaking with a friend. We almost made profits 😂! Btw, we had been friends for 13 years before we met in person for the first time in 2018.
When I finished high school in 2011, the first thing I did was to leave Germany and start my new life in Paris, France 🥰 I was working two to three jobs to make it possible, and therefore it was a very maturing experience. I met wonderful people (and also built one of the most beautiful websites in my life; it’s part of our extended portfolio, drop a message here to see it).
That same year I went to China to live with the local people and learn from them, and it worked like a miracle. I found a hostel in the very heart of Beijing and found a way I could help the team with their business. So, I stayed at theirs for a while. Not only did I improve my Chinese skills, but I could see for a fact how different cultures consume information differently as I was helping them to make their website more accessible for a Western visitor.
I returned to Germany to get a university degree and applied for one university only, which was considered somewhat irresponsible in Germany, but it worked out fast and smoothly! I was enrolled in Asian Studies at Bonn University.
At that time, I was still thinking of making websites as a hobby and saw a career in a local branch of a multinational corporation in Beijing or Hong Kong. But after one year of barely doing any web development, I felt like I was losing a part of myself. It was the moment when I clearly understood my calling.
And so, like yet another miracle, I met a classmate in Asian Studies who shared the same love for adventures and creativity and who had yet to discover the creative digital world. It was Giang, and our first project was very soon after that 🙌 ; it was an app that we made for our university.
At that time, I had just landed a perfect job in the largest German telco, Deutsche Telekom, and after just one year, I left. It was clear to me that I needed to live creativity and feel the connection with people and their ideas. Around the same time, I had established a good relationship with an outsourcing company, and we even got a project for Disney to work at 🤩. (Wanna see it? Drop a message)
But very soon, things changed dramatically. In 2014, the occupation of Crimea took place. For me, it meant that I suddenly lost my ongoing projects with the economic aftermath of the war, and eventually, I lost almost all relationships. I had to start from scratch on the German market, and I didn’t even know how to showcase my portfolio, as it was so specific to my story and the developments in the Russian-speaking internet.
Luckily, that gave me a push that I needed to invest myself in cooperation with Giang, so we began doing some projects in Germany, and then we found the Estonian E-Residency program 🇪🇪 (it’s a very special program, so we have a whole page dedicated to it). That’s when Get Real Creative finally was born! You can say happy birthday on Apr 12th 🥳
We’ve been learning a lot since then, and each of us kept going to different places to build new relationships and broaden our network. In 2018, I settled in SEA, living between Kuala-Lumpur and Bangkok, but the pandemic made me move, and eventually, I discovered the beautiful Tbilisi that became one of my favorite places to be, and that’s where you’re likely to find me 😊
Discovering the WordPress community back in 2015 helped me to meet more people with the calling of contributing to the World-Wide Web, and I’m always happy to visit or help organize a WordCamp to bring together more people with this mission. Btw, our small team did help with a WordCamp organization back in 2018 in Riga 🇱🇻
- Read Giang’s story