RISING ABOVE THE REST
By: Sonam Bhagwandas
Describing herself as being goal orientated, organised and driven, Natalie Amy Margaret Houston, has left no stone unturned in her professional and academic life.
As a Graphic Designer, JournalismIziko was honoured to have had Houston design the online website’s logo. We caught up with her to find out more about her life in Durban and abroad.
Sonam Bhagwandas: Tell us a bit about your family life.
Natalie Houston: I was born and raised in Durban and I come from a family of seven; 3 girls with myself being the youngest and 4 boys. Having such a large family can be fun but was also a great challenge. We grew up during apartheid so my brothers and sisters drifted into the field of engineering as they had to leave school at an early age and work. I, on the other hand was encouraged to study further as the youngest as my older sister helped in financing studies.
SB: How was your experience going to University during the apartheid era?
NH: I applied at Natal Tecknikon to study Marketing and Sales Management. I did not however, realise that the fact that we were in the midst of apartheid, would affect my application. On the day of registration I was told that I was not white and could not attend, they had in fact thought that I was a white student. I was shocked because this was my first personal experience with apartheid. A day later the HOD called me and told me I could continue with registration. At the time I was introverted and very young, so the entire experience was quite daunting especially the day I started where I was the only black student in a room full white students.
SB: You were lucky enough to receive a scholarship to work abroad. How was that experience?
NH: There were about 12 of us who received a scholarship from The Carl Dusiberg Gesellschaft. I was fortunate to be one of them. I was awarded the 18 month scholarship by the German Government to work and gain practical experience in that country. While in Germany I worked for Volkswagen and Audi, in their Marketing and Strategic Planning departments respectively. It was an experience that opened up my eyes in many respects.
We stayed in a city called Cologne which I really loved. It’s a beautiful place and was certainly a home away from home for me. I lived there for 6 months. We attended German Language school to learn German. We then moved to the prospective cities where the head offices of our chosen companies were located. I lived in Wolfsburg the city of Volkswagen. I had made many wonderful memories here. We returned to SA after the 18 months were completed. I later moved to Audi in Ingolstadt where I met many young interns from other parts of the world. I had the most amazing experience here, in work, life and love.
SB: Why the transition from Marketing to Graphic Design?
NH: Upon my return to SA, I worked for Intratex Publishing and learnt about Graphic Design. Working in a publishing house meant that I learnt the entire process from layout to print. I learnt everything pertaining to the field but I knew that I was not a designer, I knew I wanted to study further. After that I returned to Germany from South Africa in 2006 to study Graphic Design at the University of Applied Sciences in Dusseldorf and I completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design. I became a Graphic Design lecturer in my late 30’s but there is still much more that I would love to do.
SB: What was your inspiration in the process of you designing the JournalismIziko Logo?
NH: IZIKO is a place of fire, around which African elders sit and discuss the day’s news. The “O” symbolises a pot on a fire, from which news is brewing. The word Iziko was made up using punctuation marks from a slab font. Current DUT shapes (triangles) and colours were incorporated into the “O”. I put in this symbolisation as I wanted to link it to being DUT related and so that there would be a connection between the logo and the University.
SB: Do you have any advice for young students or the youth in general?
NH: From my life experiences and having certain regrets of things I could have done I believe that you need to think ponder on some decisions that you have to make. Sometime we don’t realise that we are selfish in terms of the decisions we make and tend to only think about ourselves. It’s those decisions we make in haste that will end up hurting no one but you.
From being a Marketing student, to working in Germany, getting her Degree in Graphic Design and working for various publications such as The Sowetan Newspaper, Houston has without a doubt had a successful career thus far and plans to broaden her horizons in the near future and has set her sights on completing her PHD in Sociology and Anthropology. She has certainly made her mark as a role model to all young, ambitious women.