2 Minutes With … Nette Gaastra, Creative Director at 50,000feet

Adventures in design from the Netherlands to America

As a creative director at 50,000feet, Nette Gaastra believes in the power of brands to shape businesses and organizations—that across industries, categories or challenges, businesses will benefit by collaborating with creative partners and a design-led perspective to translate insights into ideas and strong design solutions.

Nette has been successful across a diverse range of clients, challenges and media working on major branding projects in highly competitive spheres—rom world-leading arts and cultural institutions to cause-related organizations to consumer-focused campaigns and corporate brands.

Originally from the Netherlands, she received a degree from the Design Academy in Eindhoven and has since lived in New York City with her husband and two children.

We spent two minutes with Nette to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations, and recent work she's admired.


Nette, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in the Netherlands in a very small farming village called Hauwert. Now, I live in Jackson Heights, Queens.

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

I used to say I wanted to have a little restaurant.

How you discovered you were creative.

At a young age, I enjoyed drawing and, in school, I was considered fairly good at it. That evolved into wanting to go to an art or design college. I only realized much later in life that another education or career path had actually never crossed my mind.

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

Not creatively per se, but I remember thinking as a young girl that Terence Trent D'Arby in "Sign Your Name" was the most gorgeous human being I'd ever seen! I listened to his album Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby on repeat.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

Before graduating college, I took a year off to work and travel. I started at Philips Design in Eindhoven, then went to New York, where I worked at Whitehouse & Company. Then, back in Amsterdam, I interned with Irma Boom and Marjo Starink, followed by a trip to India. That entire year was highly influential, but my time in New York truly changed my life. Hence, I'm still here.

The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today.

I am lucky with how my parents exposed me and my brother to concerts and theater from a young age. The first concert I saw must have been the Dubliners when I was 6, and I remember going to a Ry Cooder concert when I was 11. However, Tina Turner was the first concert I bought my own tickets for, right before college. I can intensely enjoy a wide variety of music, old and new, and don't have a favorite musician or band. It really depends on my mood. However, it's really hard for me to listen to music while doing something else so I don't play music as often as I'd like. 

Your favorite visual artist.

Crazy limiting question! I'll go with what I'm loving lately: Njideka Akunyili Crosby.

Your favorite fictional character.

Elastigirl.

The best book you've read lately.

Lately, I read a lot of books my kids read (young adult) as they really want me to share in their reading experience. Re-reading The Diary of Anne Frank during the lockdown was perfect. Her appreciation, optimism and wisdom were incredible.

Your favorite movie.

My Life as a Dog made such an impact on me when I first saw it as a kid. But still today I love it for the same reasons and emotions it makes me feel. Though, I think the question should be "list of favorite movies."

Your favorite Instagram follow.

I'm not a very consistent Instagram follower but I do really enjoy some of the stunning work at @avant.arte, the wonderly posts of @vikmuniz, and people's submissions on @stefansagmeister.

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

Overall, we have been very fortunate throughout the past year and I am well aware of that. Having more time at home, less running around, has been a positive change.

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on.

Designing the brand for the marketing campaign for MIRA was a great project. This condominium tower is designed by Studio Gang—amazing architecture by an amazing architect. The team was great, the client was great, and the result was great. I also got to see a lot of San Francisco—which, you know, was great.

A recent creative project you're proud of.

We've been working with Etain Health on their rebranding, website, and currently new packaging design. It's been a lot of fun. The founders are very driven and hands-on, and I feel the work really contributes to their hard work and success.

Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.

SHV Think Book 1996-1896 designed by Irma Boom.

Someone else's creative project that you admired lately.

Anything by Christoph Niemann. But I continually admire work I see from people we know—fellow students from Eindhoven, friends, family. It is inspiring to see work made by people you know.

Your main strength as a creative person.

Low ego.

Your biggest weakness.

Creating way too many sticky notes with unreadable handwriting.

One thing that always makes you happy.

A walk in the sun. A bike ride in the sun. Sitting on a bench in the sun. A sunny day in the spring. My husband and kids will confirm that these things make me really happy to an almost annoying extent.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Ugh, sadly, so much around us is deeply saddening, but as a parent, it always takes me down when I hear or read about a kid being bullied. On a smaller scale, not having chocolate at home makes me sad, too.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

Sometimes I think I would like to have a bakery. I love bread. I enjoy early mornings, and baking bread is kind of magical.

2 Minutes With is our interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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