“COVID-19 caused my work to stop immediately”

Written by Lieve Thuis

After working as a graphic designer for 30 years, Maria Thuis (58) was forced to switch careers and look for work elsewhere because of COVID-19. “If the workload of a creative private firm owner disappears, you don’t only lose your income, but also a part of yourself and your creativity.”

Maria has been managing her own firm for almost 20 years now. After working for an employer for several years, she wanted to establish her own company. “When my children were born, I wanted to raise them and see them grow up, so I started working as a self-employed person at my home office.”

COVID-19 and the measures that followed, caused Maria’s work to end immediately. Her assignments were cancelled and her workload dropped. “The creative sector is the first to suffer from this kind of unexpected global disaster. People fear the future and their income is uncertain. This often works the same for companies: marketing and communication are first in line on the chopping block.” 

Because of the pernicious situation, there is no space for a creative mind like Maria to be herself, and that upsets her. “As a creative person you reflect your personality in your work: it’s who you are and what you do. In my case, it means that after almost 30 years there’s – hopefully temporarily – no need for me or my work. Of course, I understand that my customers are with their backs against the wall as well, but the feeling that your 30-year existence seems to be gone makes it very hard.”

Since Maria’s workload has decreased a lot, she decided to switch careers and apply for a job as a certified wedding officiant. Ever since she got married herself, she felt a connection with this sector. “The work is flexible, I will remain practising this trade once the pandemic is over. I feel like it suits me and I can use my creativity in this branch as well.”

For a graphic designer, ageing is a disadvantage: Maria constantly needs to catch up with the young creative minds who are better trained on a technical level. As a certified wedding officiant, her age is an advantage: life experience is precedence. 

Although she found a solution for her low amount of workload, Maria knows she will not be as happy as she was in her branch. “I’m at my happiest when i am a designer. My heart beats for that. But I’m open to trying anything. As long as you find sufficient appreciation, pleasure and recognition in what you do.”