Metanoia Magazine: Valev Laube, a creative mind whose work has expanded beyond design to brand management, and creative entrepreneurship

 Valev Laube at the reception with former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves (2015, New York, NY)

Valev Laube at the reception with former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves (2015, New York, NY)

Originally growing up in post-Soviet era Estonia, Valev Laube is an Estonian born brand manager, artist, and designer currently based in New York. He has worked with world renown brands such as Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. His creative genius in digital designs have been the cornerstone of many New York-based festivals, events, and company brands.

When Valev Laube, Estonian-born brand manager and designer, started his first large scale design project in 2008, he had very little design knowledge, no marketing background and only had access to a single computer and the Internet for advice.

Born to a single parent family, Mr. Laube was the youngest of three children, living at home while his elder siblings had begun their lives on their own. Despite living off his mother’s minimum wage salary in a small Soviet era apartment (in a Khrushchyovka-type apartment complex), Laube remembers his childhood with fondness, as caring and nurturing.

“The seventh day of each month felt like Christmas day, it was the day when my mother would be paid. An exciting morning, she would come home with two Lemon cakes, a special treat since payday was the only time when we could afford them. Looking back at my childhood I remember mostly happiness, I wasn’t afraid or ashamed of being poor, nor do I think that anyone thought that life was bad. It was a time that focused more around finding happiness from people beside you, than from things or products. Growing up, I never starved, but I was also not spoiled,” says Laube.

Design wasn’t something taught highly prioritized in the small village where he grew up, an Estonian community populated by 330 people, whom were surrounded by endless forests and farm lands. While post-Soviet Estonia experienced rapid changes after the end of the Soviet Union (showcasing one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union), his home was still a strong representation of the darker times. Many of the economic benefits gained by the dissolution of the USSR had not yet trickled down to rural areas. Access to digital communication as quickly becoming a gateway to the outer world, completely redefined the meaning of ‘opportunity’ in a country with little resources and small population. With access to internet, Valev Laube’s love of design was formed at the age of twelve when his sister approached him for some computer related advice.

 Valev Laube performing Estonian folk tunes and contemporary folk music to government officials at the Estonian Embassy

Valev Laube performing Estonian folk tunes and contemporary folk music to government officials at the Estonian Embassy

Estonia’s internet modernization through the introduction of electronic governance, innovative ID cards, and free public Wifi hotspots approximately every 5km, established new opportunities in pace with the current time and age. The digital opportunities extending from improved communication extended and democratizing the ability to apply for access to various kinds of government and EU funds. With the ability to compete for investments, Valev saw the internet as his opportunity to make his dreams come true. Many European cultural programs, found online, soon became the bases for this Estonian creative expert’s take off into the wide world. After his first experimentations with design, Valev started participating in various youth exchange projects in Sweden, Finland, Greece, and Poland comparing the different world-views of people from these cultures and living a life that previously, no one could have imagined for himself. “We’ve all heard of Eastern European computer enthusiasts that hack their way through the most secured western servers and get a job offer soon after,” says Laube. “However, that does not necessarily translate to giving Eastern-European designers respect for their designs.” After a few years spent participating in youth exchange programs, he assisted organizing youth exchange projects himself in Sweden and Estonia, while deepening his talent for visual communication.

Already by the age of sixteen he had marketed many cultural festivals, events and even political youth initiatives, proving himself to be a reliable designer. Soon after, in 2012 he began his independent life as an international student and freelance artist in Italy, before moving to the United States in 2014 to pursue studies in Digital Media.

A creative mind whose work has now expanded beyond design to brand management, creative entrepreneurship, and independent artistry, Valev Laube sees his multifaceted past as a strength allowing him to build better connections with clients and investors. As a dreamer who rushed into exploring the world himself, he loves examining dreams of others and finding ways to bring these ideas into the masses. “Often times people with big dreams don’t always find supporters due to the complexity of their presentation, their audience simply can’t grasp it, this is an even more prevalent issue at the time of digital communication,” Valev says. “I love surprising people and seeing how they get passionate about things that previously got little to no attention from them. There are times when we think we know what we want from entertainment, products, or services, and it’s always great to see when their expectations were exceeded.” As part of being the creative director of the Estonian Cultural Days in New York, Valev has brought various famous Estonian celebrities to New York City and presented Estonian culture to a wide array of audiences in New York City as well as in Washington, D.C. His design and marketing related work has made him the up-and-coming Estonian designer and design manager, whose work touches people’s hearts and builds empathy. His list of clients include brands such as Marquee Brand Builders, Grapple Media, and Sacatelle. As well, as part of his work, he has also had the opportunity to make promotional designs for clients including Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, to name a few.

Valev cites his love of visual him successful, with communication as the thing that has made specifically the way aesthetic value can change recipients’ perceptions, causing intimate connections to be formed the target audience. Memories of an post Soviet Estonian village, progressive and rapid changing Estonian cities, various European countries, and New York City’s creative energy has made him realize how little it takes to reach understanding, and that compromises exist in all situations. “Building empathy and connectivity in visual communication is all about finding compromises between what people know and can relate to, and the story I’m trying to tell. One doesn’t exist in a vacuum from the other, they overlap and resonate.” Said Valev while explaining how his life has affected his understanding of design. Valev is currently working on an independent art piece which examines the changes that take place in poverty neighborhoods due to gentrification and how community interaction with historic landmarks changes due to the changing social and economic structures. He is also in charge of the marketing and web presence of an upcoming Estonian choral event “Esto-Atlantis Concert: A Centennial Celebration of Independence in a Singing Nation” taking place at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts on April 1, 2018.

 Valev Laube has collaborated on multiple occasions with an Estonian-born currently New York-based dancer and choreographer  Diina Tamm , who's worked with an impressive list of artists such as Icona Pop, and Misterwives, while his works have been featured in NY Fashion Week, ABC live broadcasts, and Good Morning America (Photo: Valev Laube)

Valev Laube has collaborated on multiple occasions with an Estonian-born currently New York-based dancer and choreographer Diina Tamm, who's worked with an impressive list of artists such as Icona Pop, and Misterwives, while his works have been featured in NY Fashion Week, ABC live broadcasts, and Good Morning America (Photo: Valev Laube)

Article published by Metanoia Magazine; pp. 56-59; December 2017