She’s a talented artist who laughs easily with a plenty of joy and a lot of mirth and she grew up in the middle of a forest. Karin Lachmann is one of the creative leads at wir.agency, a design agency that specializes in visual storytelling.

Karin took time out of her busy day to sit down and talk about where she grew up, her life, french fries, and how she handles a lot of work.

Karin Lachmann IllustrationWhere did you grow up?

I was born in Linz and grew up in the Mühlviertel. I actually grew up in the middle of a forest. There were three houses and a bunch of trees surrounding us so it was quite literally in the middle of a forest. My neighbors were a bunch of boys around my age so we were the gang of this really really small community and I was the leader! We cycled around the forest and were explorers. That’s how we spent our days. We were free to do what we liked until sunset.

During my rebellious teenage years, my family actually ended up moving to Linz and I founded a manga club that had 150 members! It was a lot of work. This was before Facebook so coordination was basically going through a long list of mobile phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Unfortunately I had to end it when I moved to Vienna.

What are some of the difficulties you had to overcome to get to where you are now?

There were some issues growing up once I got to school. My mother is Filipino and it’s interesting how I didn’t know I was different until I went to school. My gang of friends from the middle of the forest never treated me any different but then I got to school and the bullying started because I looked different. It also didn’t help that there were only 6 girls and 24 boys so I got even more bullying due to the gender imbalance. Those times were very hard because I was an 8-year old girl and I looked different but it did toughen me up.

When I was 12, my father passed away. He was a tinkerer. He built his own boats and taught me how to sail. And he was very interested in CB radios and built his own. His call sign was Whiskey Lima. Whiskey for Walter and Lima for Lachmann. When he passed, that was a very difficult time as well and quite suddenly, I had to grow up really fast, and raise my two younger siblings with my mom.

As for professionally, I always wanted to work in the creative world. My dream was to become a fashion designer and that’s why I moved to Vienna, to study fashion. My dream was crushed when I was rejected by the school so I guess it wasn’t meant to be. So I retreated to my manga interests and studied Japanese studies and graduated with a Bachelor’s. But I didn’t give up on my creative dreams. I applied to Die Graphische to study Graphic Design because I always loved to draw. I got rejected. Again. Dealing with all this rejection was difficult because at first I just felt absolutely worthless. I put so much pressure on myself and all I wanted was to get into the school. But, after many tears and now with the benefit of hindsight, I think these setbacks were good. It gave me time to reflect about what went wrong. With fashion, I think my heart wasn’t in it–I just didn’t know what else to do and I think they felt that in my application. For Die Graphische, they told me that I wasn’t right for the school and I learned that while I love to draw, and while drawing is important in graphic design, it’s not everything. My first portfolio submission was only illustrations. I had to adapt. So I learned other important graphic design elements like composition and typography. I reapplied to Die Graphische and was accepted. Finally!

Do you still want to become a fashion designer?Karin Lachmann - Illustration

Now I do fashion just for myself so I’ve made my own backpack and my own pants. It’s more of a hobby. Sometimes, out of broken dreams, you can create hobbies!

How did you find out about Impact Hub Vienna?

I found out about Impact Hub through Creative Mornings. It was an event and it was at the Hub. I really liked the space and thought it was beautiful. Good lighting, bright, and everyone is so nice. It took me a while to sign up because my creative process isn’t the most mobile. I need my own creative space that is set up the way I need it to be.

What do you love about Impact Hub?

I love the community, the space, the events, and the location. Everything!

What do you love about Vienna? Do you have a favorite spot?

I love how Vienna is the perfect size. It’s the perfect size for a capital. You can run into people you know on the street but it’s big enough to give you the anonymity of a big city. There’s a lot of events, lots of things to do, and I feel you can find your community here, whatever that may be.

My favorite spot is the main library, the Hauptbücherei. I don’t know how many hundreds of books I’ve borrowed over the years. There’s a borrowing limit of 25 books at any one time but I reach that limit almost all the time. I also love the restaurant on top, OBEN. They have great food and it’s an amazing view.

What food can you not live without?

French fries. Or what I’d like to call “frittierte Sonnenstrahlen” (fried rays of sunshine). I’m not the originator of that term–I just read it on Twitter and really like it.

Karin Lachmann - IllustrationWhat are some books or movies that have inspired you?

The Harry Potter series. Both the books and the movies. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the books or how many times I’ve watched the movies. It’s definitely a lot. When I’m down, I watch them and they pick me up.

Since I’m a huge fan of manga, “Dragonball”. I think both this series and the Harry Potter series have helped shape my outlook on life. There’s light and dark in people. Bad characters always have the opportunity to do good if they choose the right path. Vegeta in Dragonball. Snape in Harry Potter.

I’m also a big fan of Studio Ghibli movies. “Princess Mononoke” is my favorite. It’s got everything and again, everyone has darkness and light in them and it’s about what people choose to do.

During busy times, how do you handle an above average workload?

I try to get work done early in the morning so I get up at around 5 or 6. I go to bed at around 10 pm so don’t think I’m the type of person who doesn’t need sleep. I get my 7 to 8 hours. There’s just something about that time in the morning, you can’t hear anybody on the street because everyone is still asleep, and it just works for me. I get a lot done!

Do you get stressed? What do you do to relax?

I get stressed just like everyone. To relax, I watch Harry Potter. It’s my go to. It really does relax me or I go do something physically active or meet up with friends.

What else are you up to?

I’m naturally curious. I always want to learn and I always think I don’t know anything so right now I’m really into audiobooks and I’m listening to Elon Musk’s biography. There’s also a couple of other audiobooks that I’m currently listening to: “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck” and “Sapiens.” Fascinating! I’m also involved in skillsharing. I’ve always got something to do!

Photos/Illustrations by Karin Lachmann

Photo in the header (c) Aneta Pawlik