From passion to profession

Gitte Johansen, the Danish photographer and graphic designer at International Design House, turned her passion of taking photos into her profession. She moved to Hong Kong seven years ago to enjoy the excitement of a city of contrasts which drives her creativity.


Gitte Johansen
Gitte Johansen

Born in Esbjerg in Denmark, Gitte Johansen grew up with a father who loves taking photos. She received her first camera as a gift from her father when she was around six.

In Gitte’s early age, her father worked in shipping and transportation business. Whenever he had time off work, he enjoyed taking photos. He even had a dark chamber where he developed black & white and colour pictures at home.

“I spent a lot of time taking photos with my dad and I absolutely loved it. I’ve enjoyed taking photos since I was young,” says Gitte.

Growing up taking photos since a very young age, it was always a part of life so Gitte never thought of pursuing it as her profession. When she had to decide to further her education, it took her quite some time to know that taking photos was what she wanted to do professionally. In any case, she always knew that she wanted to do something in the creative field so she took drawing and art classes. Nevertheless, it didn’t satisfy her emotionally.

“One day I came home to consult my dad about my choice of education because I was not happy about it. And he said: Why is it that you don’t want to be a photographer. It hit me then. Of course, I want to be a photographer,” says Gitte with a big smile.

Gitte decided to take the education in Denmark to become a professional photographer. Alongside with doing photography, she has been doing graphic designs and graphic illustrations.

International Design House

Gitte moved to Hong Kong seven years ago. She is currently working for International Design House, the Danish company providing product design solutions including product design and development, production, packaging and branding.

The company also has own brands of modern style wine accessories and kitchenware products which are SPIRIT and MIX. Designed by Marcus Vagnby, a well-recognized product designer from Denmark, the products have been distributed globally in many countries such as Denmark, Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

As the Art Manager of the company, Gitte’s role is to ensure that all graphic illustrations, logos, photography, packaging, and all kids of designs work together to initiate purchases from consumers.

Charm of Hong Kong

Seven years in Hong Kong means the Dane is enjoying her life in the city.

“Hong Kong is a city of contrasts. And for me as a creative person, working here gives me a lot of creative input,” says Gitte.

For Gitte, the city has so much to offer with a variety of choices. It’s also a major food capital that residents can enjoy good food ranging from dining in a fine dining restaurant to grabbing a quick bite to eat on a messy street. Despite the fact that Hong Kong is very hectic, Gitte loves the liveliness of the place.

“I have never seen a place that has so many small little things happening all around in the creative environment at the same time. There are so many impressions per minute. I really like that,” adds Gitte.

Gitte says that there are many small groups of creative people in Hong Kong. With support from the Hong Kong government, the arts scene in the city is on the rise.

Danish Community in Hong Kong

According to Gitte, the Danish community is tight in Hong Kong. The bond between Scandinavian and other expat communities is also strong. Many events and activities are available for Scandinavians to connect with each other, for example, Danish Chamber of Commerce networking events and luncheons, football tournaments, and Christmas celebrations.

The Danish church in Hong Kong is set up as a social centre where expats get together for all kinds of celebrations.

Gitte is well connected with the Danish and expat communities in the city. She often volunteers to help with photography and graphic illustrations at Danish and Scandinavian-related events.

“They know they can always call me if they need my help. We get used to helping each other around here,” says Gitte.

“What expats have in common is that we are open to meeting other people. We often travel in a group together. I have a large group of Danish friends living here,” adds Gitte.

For anyone interested in moving to Asia, Gitte says that Hong Kong is one of the easiest cities for expats to live. She recommends newcomers to join the community and participate in events as soon as possible as it’d help them both in professional and personal levels.

“There’s no reason to get into trouble finding something. You can just ask and people here are more than happy to help you,” says Gitte with a smile.

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