Photo: Anne Koutonen

Sound designer Tuuli Kyttälä has had plenty of freelance work after graduation

What did you study?
I studied sound design at the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki.

When did you graduate?
I graduated in 2011 and started my studies in 2005.

Where have you worked after graduation?
I have worked as a freelancer after graduation in many different places and productions, for example at the Finnish National Theatre, different city theatres, at Cirko (Centre for New Circus), and Zodiak (Centre for New Dance). My latest job was at the Forum Box art gallery, where I worked for a production that was organised by two dancers independently.

What was it like to transition into working life?
I completed my thesis project with choreographer Joona Halonen, and after graduation Joona asked me to work with him on other projects, as well. That opened a door to the working life. 

On top of that, at the time of my graduation I had also already agreed to work for Lappeenranta City Theatre next autumn, so my transition to working as a freelancer was pretty straightforward in that respect. But graduation and starting my career did still feel like a chaotic time and I had my moments of doubt about whether I was going to get new work or not. But fortunately I always got a new job after the previous project had ended.

What kind of skills does your current job require?
Above all, my work requires artistic design skills and vision, but also technical skills. Excellent stress tolerance, teamwork skills, strong work ethic and confidence are also needed, because as a freelancer your employment is mainly in the hands of you yourself. A job well done speaks for itself and will likely lead to more jobs. Networking and knowing people in the business is also important.

I don’t feel like I master everything as a sound designer yet, because each project starts from scratch and you learn something new all the time.

Do you wish that you had some skills that you didn’t acquire as a student?
Social skills are important as a student. In my profession, you have to be open, have the courage to express yourself and go get involved in the things that you find interesting.

The degree programme in lighting and sound design at the Theatre Academy focuses mainly on artistic design, which is great. That has given me confidence in my artistic vision. We could have had a bit more instruction in technical skills, but then again working in the field itself has taught me those necessary technical skills over time.

In what way could students prepare themselves for life after graduation already in their studies?
It’s worth networking with other students from all fields of art already during your time at the university. You have to dare to be yourself, learn to live with insecurity, and be flexible.

What kind of advice do you have for current students?
Acquire strong technical and artistic skills. Make most of all the courses you take. Don’t skip classes. Be open and get to know your future colleagues. Don’t be too critical and be ready to try out and do everything. Say yes to as many opportunities as possible. Take advantage of the technical facilities at the school, and practise the use of equipment even on your own time, if you feel like it. Talk, ask, get involved.

What kind of memories do you have from your time as a student at the Theatre Academy?
I look back on my study years extremely fondly. Studying was a really inspirational time and quite life-altering in the sense that I got to study for a profession that feels right for me. Students get to focus on the essential, which is art, all the time and gain knowledge.

I was perhaps a bit too shy, if I had been a bit braver I could have gotten more out of my studies. At times, studying built up pressure, but I’m sure all students experienced pressure at times.