Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is Graphic Designer for AIK Fotboll in Sweden, Andrius Vaškevičius!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name’s Andrius Vaškevičius, and currently I am working as a graphic designer at AIK Fotboll. Prior to this I worked in a few advertising agencies in Lithuania as a designer / jr. art director and also freelanced at a Lithuanian top division football club. In 2018, with the help of Erasmus+ internship program I got a few internship opportunities, first at Copa90 in London and then at AIK Fotboll in Stockholm where I got promoted to a full-time graphic designer and I’m still working there to this day.
What do you do in your current role?
At AIK Fotboll I work as a graphic designer. I’m responsible for art direction and production of wide-ranging online and offline assets including content for social media, match-day stadium visuals and merchandise. Being part of the media / communication team I work alongside internal departments (Ticketing, Merchandise and Corporate Partnerships) as well as collaborate with club partners & external suppliers (such as Nike, EA Sports, New Era).
In my free time I also freelance, usually it’s also sport related whether it’s crest design for a football club or branding for a sport tournament.
What does a normal week look like for you?
Nowadays a normal week is working from home. During the season our main focus is planning ahead for the upcoming matches (both men and women teams), preparing and updating all of our social media and stadium graphics. I’m communicating with colleagues and partners to ensure all graphics needs are met. During the year there’s a lot of operations not related to games directly. Some of my work is made for inhouse use only, for example presentations for potential partners. But the majority of my work is for our social media channels and it can vary from new merchandise drop to season ticket campaign.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I think it was in my final year of college, when I applied for Erasmus+ internship program. Back then I was freelancing with a football club in Lithuania and I was really enjoying it but at the same time I was curious what it would be like at the higher level. So after I got through the first stage of the Erasmus+ program, it was time to find a company that would hire me as an intern. It took longer than I was expecting, I reached out to a bunch of design agencies and football clubs across Europe but eventually narrowed my search down to Stockholm. I knew a bit about AIK Fotboll, because I wrote about one of their campaigns for my bachelor’s degree project. So I spammed them for almost half a year and eventually they replied and hired me – first as an intern, and later as a full-time designer.
What’s been your favourite moment whilst working in sports?
I guess it would have to be AIK vs GIF Sundsvall in 2018. Situation: If AIK gets three points they win the title after seven years. More than 50 thousand people were in the stadium that night. Every touch of the ball, every foul, every shot on goal were reinforced by unbelievable noise from the audience. Of course when the stakes are so high, the game just had to end in a scoreless draw. But the atmosphere from that game is something that stayed with me. From unbelievable joy after AIK scored to anger when that goal was ruled out for offside or despair and disappointment when the referee blew the final whistle. Maybe it seems weird to choose this kind anticlimactic moment as my favourite one, but to see what kind of effect a simple game can have on so many people, to experience those moments together and to feel the full spectrum of emotions is something not a lot of things in life can offer you. Plus a week after it didn’t matter anyways, since AIK won the last game of the season and were crowned champions.
What do you think is next for your industry?
I love that in the past few years football (or sport in general) designs really stepped up. Football culture outside of the game influenced the biggest brands and clubs. It’s clearly visible that there is so much more thought put into communication, new merch or branding. Corporate and strict style gave way to more personality. Strong concepts and social initiatives for the community are the new norm now. So I think in the future we will see even more examples of breaking the traditional stereotypes of sport and I’m excited to see that.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
My advice will mostly apply to content creators, since I am one myself. And I’m sorry but it’s a cliche – just do it. And then share it. Understanding and knowing what you want to do is difficult, so if you already know that you want to work with sports that’s a very good start. There’s tons of ways you can do that and nowadays there’s a lot of platforms that are looking for talent (from various blogs, apps, youtube or TV channels to sport clubs). Just create stuff and share it. It can be concepts, fan art, whatever. That’s how I got my start – by just doing concept projects for my portfolio related to sport and sharing them online. If you care – it will be visible in your work and people will notice that. By showcasing your work you show your passion and approach to it, and that may open a lot of new opportunities for you.
How to follow Andrius Vaškevičius on social…
You can see some of my work at Behance
You can connect with me on Linkedin
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with Graphic Designer for AIK Fotboll, Andrius Vaškevičius