The Heroine’s Journey of Jeannette Zuurbier

What is the best thing that I love about my work?  

Looking around, observing what is happening around you. I believe inspiration can come from anything and anywhere. My work as director of Solar Initiative – a creative agency in Amsterdam focussing on art direction, photography and graphic design – requires a constant flow of creative thoughts to arrive at good ideas for visual communication.

What is my idea of perfect happiness? 
Creating beautiful stories for brands and people, and sharing them with the world.

What is my greatest fear?  
That nobody loves paper and print will die out! However, I do believe in paper and print strongly and even though the digital world will take on an even greater role in our lives in the time to come, I think print and paper will not disappear. The possibilities the internet and social networks bring for spreading communication are amazing and so is the development towards more moving and motion images in my field of work. But the quality and joy great photography and content can give you in print, cannot always be reproduced on the screen. Also, the value of collecting and preserving books and magazines printed on paper is something that still appeals to me.

Which living persons in my profession do i most admire? 

There are many. But my admiration mostly is for people outside my profession. I think it is really important to think out of the box and learn from other professions. For example Nancy McKinstry (Wolters Kluwer), Anna Harvey (Conde Nast), Frank van der Wall Bake (sport sponsoring) and Mark Lammers (hockey coach). But also my sister. She is an orthodontist and specialized in cheiloschisis. She is in a hospital in India right now to help the indian children.

What is my greatest extravagance?  
I love my shoes! But my extravagance is time. When I close the door of my office I really leave work behind. Whether it is weekend, a holiday or just 2 hours in the morning to walk. When you are busy, time is the most precious extravaganza.

On what occasion would I lie?  
I only lie, when I know somebody would feel better by it. Otherwise I do not lie.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?  
Having to make compromises to an extent that the creative quality is at stake, is something I do dislike. Sometimes there is no other way, but it is a pity to see the work you envisioned crumble to a poor version of what it could have been with a little bit more effort and/or guts.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?  
Every day, creating. Something inherent to the world of fashion and retail is having your eyes focussed the next thing. We work 2 to 6 months ahead of the season, so by the time the project is released I am fully concentrated on the next one, creating something else. To aim for the best every time is what keeps me going. 

If I could, what would I change about myself?  
I wish I had the time to explore nature more. As I said, I am always busy creating and looking for the next thing, but on the other hand I am a huge fan of slow-living. This feels a bit contrary to the way I work and the industry I am in, but I try to balance it. Slow-living as a counterpart to the ever-moving society, means living with more attention for your surrounding and all sensory experiences. In some of our own initiated projects from the design studio we try to slow down people and have them think about certain topics through photography and text, like we did with the collector’s box Scents/Sense:
What is my greatest achievement in work?  
Every day I learn and develop, so this is a hard question. I do remember how we were at the forefront of photography around the turn of the century by introducing a group of art photographers in the commercial world. With an autonomous vision we created images within a commercial context, something that was new at the time and became a huge succes worldwide.
On the other hand I am very proud of the fact that we have a work relationship of over 15 years with one of the clients we work for, and you are still challenged everyday and can contribute to their growing image over the years.

Where would I most like to live? 
LA, i love the vibe and weather there!

What is my most treasured possession?
Once I got a rosary, on a very sudden moment. I do not know why, but I treasure it very much.

What is my most marked characteristic?
I am very direct.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?  
De Jordaan, with all its authentic Amsterdam people is something that is truly unique.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?
I enjoy my drinks at Brandon, one of the oldest bars of Amsterdam – it dates back to 1626 and is located at at the Keizersgracht 157. My dinner at the restaurant of the fairly new boutique hotel Morgan&Mees.
What books influenced my life and how?
Women in business in 1992 made me realize my goal in life. In the book I read how five women made it to the top in the 20th century. They are each from very different cultures and backgrounds but they all have one thing in common – success, and became world famous. For example, Coco Chanel started her working life as a dressmaker. She started up in business just at the time when women’s lives were changing dramatically. Because of the war, women in northern France suddenly needed clothes for a new kind of lifestyle – an active, working life outside of the home. And Coco Chanel designed them. Throughout her long career, she understood that fashion was not just about clothes but about the way people live their lives. Very inspiring woman!

Who are my favorite writers?
There is no favorite really. Every holiday I bring a huge pile of new books and I read like 14 books. I start with easy literature and in the end I have read at least four great books.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?
I will survive – Gloria Gaynor

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? 
Inspector Morse..  Intelligent, lover of classical music and literature and very smart.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?
Never thought about this question actually. I have a lot. All people who are passionate about what they are doing and who have the guts to try new things.

Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime? 
It is not the right answer, but the movie that got me was The Mission. The combination of the music with the story. Perhaps nowadays something we all have to remember, too much violence in wanting to conquer other people.

What role plays art in my life and work?
A very important role. First of all art brings joy and thought. But it also brings innovation and development. It is a shame governments do not recognise the importancy of art.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?  
My creative partner, who is also my husband. He always asks the right questions when it comes to development.

Whom would I like to work with in 2017?  
Everyone who wants to communicate with exceptional imagery and communication.

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2017?
I would like to say a lot of people, but I know by experience that also my heroes encounter the same problems as I do. So I would like to meet somebody from another discipline and learn from them. A great basketbal coach for example.

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on?  
We are working on webzines and one of them is Basket. A webzine and magazine based on basketbal and urban lifestyle. Cannot wait!

Where can you see me or my work in 2017?
I will mainly be working on developing new projects in our studio in Amsterdam. So keep an eye out.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? 
These words do not mean a lot to me. It is being used for a group of people with a certain age who are still in the business. And not in a current way. I do not feel as part of that group. Besides, passion is an old-fashioned word.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?
There are so many heroines. Every day so many women, young and older, are making the world better and more beautiful. Women who do not fear the glass-roof. Who can combine family and work with a smile.

How can you contact me?
You can contact me directly by e-mail at or link through LinkedIn or Facebook. You can check out my agency and our work for clients and our own special projects at

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