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Don’t Worry—Most People’s First Jobs Are a Disaster

Johana Kroft revisits a nightmarish gig

Kroft’s dog Panda inspires many of her canine-friendly designs.

Before she was a successful illustrator and motion designer working for clients that include Nike and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Johana Kroft had to pay her dues… and sometimes, as is often the case with freelance jobs, things got a little strange.

The Czech creative had just finished university in Prague and was looking to expand her portfolio. “I was young and naive and I didn’t have design experience,” she says. “I was hired to help this guy with a magazine, but it was a total disaster—he had no idea what he was doing, and neither did I.”

“The job was in an old villa in a small town. I had to travel for an hour-and-a-half to get there—which is a lot, because Prague is small,” Kroft continues. “The production manager hated me, I have no idea why. I worked alone in this weird office—it looked like somebody’s apartment. Nobody explained how to do my job, so I worked on my own on everything, and it was a huge catastrophe. I made a lot of mistakes and nobody even told me. They fired me after one month, and I was glad…”

Despite the debacle, Kroft says she’d do it all over again, if given the chance.

“We all have to start somewhere,” she explains. “I tried my best, and I failed, and that’s completely fine. The worst thing was they didn’t pay me and I was short with my rent. After university, I was full of dreams and big plans—traveling, doing exhibitions, working for the best companies—and I thought that this would happen overnight. Maybe for some it does, but not usually. Behind every success there’s hard work and mistakes.”

“Panda loves people more than dogs,” Kroft says of her furry inspiration, “and she only speaks Czech.”
Panda is a world traveler—in 2020 she passed through London, France, and Spain, then boarded a cruise ship bound for New York.
A still from Kroft’s #ConnectedByLemonade animation.

See more of Johana Kroft’s work here, and check out her commission for #ConnectedByLemonade!

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