The Heroine’s Journey of Pier Veller

Pier Veller was born 02/03/1999 in Cape Town, South Africa. She prides herself on being a storyteller and visual communicator for climate change and humanitarian organisations.

What is the best thing that I love about my work? Sometimes I sit down at my workplace and just really don’t want to be there, then all of a sudden I’m intrigued and excited, dramatically I find myself getting deeper and deeper into the zone and nothing can distract, nothing can get in my way. I feel as if I have creative superpowers, that I am the best at what I do.

What is my idea of happiness? In life sometimes, hardships can cause an immense amount of disassociation with the world around you. To be connected to today, the moment and the mood of what is going on around me, to feel intensely, to just exist in the now. Happiness is made, it’s not an energy that simply appears. It has taken me over 2 decades to realize that you cannot expect it, but should instead seek out for it in small, fragile, fleeting moments.

What is my greatest fear? I dread that I won’t do something valuable with my life; I don’t want superficial fame or recognition, I need to be used, to be leaned on. If I can’t do that then why did I fail as many times as I did, why did I learn all those hard lessons? The thought that the hardships that came before me literally means nothing makes life feel pointless and me feel useless.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? Maybe I am too serious sometimes, maybe I don’t stand up enough for myself. I seem to overthink a lot as well…if I go too into it I am sure I can find something I truly deplore about myself but I choose to stick to positive mind frames whenever I can.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? I haven’t ever been the type to glorify others, I don’t have the attention span for it. However, working in a humanitarian organisation means I am exposed to countless stories of admirable personalities, and my boss, Karak Miakol, is a woman who I have admired since the first day I watched one of her interviews. A woman who was born into war, fought to survive, has adopted countless children and strives to save many more, her energy inspires me to continue to push, to write the stories that are worth hearing. To my memory, I think she may be the only human being I have ever truly admired.

What is my greatest extravagance? Healthy eating habits were ingrained into my brain as a child and I carry that standard throughout my adulthood. If there is one thing I won’t compromise on, its the quality of food that I put into my body.

On what occasion would I lie? Watching my mother slowly fade away really changed me as a person. She was stressed all the time and bottled her thoughts and emotions, selflessly placing everyone’s needs above her own – her passing taught me to be honest, open about myself. I don’t think lying is bad, I just tend to avoid it, I don’t need to carry that burden (but mainly so that I don’t have to stress about remembering a story which never existed in the first place).

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? Creating as a job is probably more of a life hack than it is work, the only sad part about it is that I am glued to a computer screen instead of being able to work with my hands in an outdoor setting. In another, braver life I am an archaeologist or anthropologist.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? Pinpointing a moment is difficult, but I know that I’m happiest when I find a new niche tool on my design platforms that allows me to build on my creative voice. Being able to see growth in my profession, knowing that I am better now than before is the main part of this job that truly makes me happy.

If I could, what would I change about myself? If I’m being honest? A lot… my home life wasn’t the easiest, I hardly stand up for myself and I tend to pick things up and then get distracted. This all being said, I have accepted that if I didn’t have any of these experiences under my belt I wouldn’t have the mindset that I do now. So as much as I sometimes wish I could change things, I am glad that I can’t.

What is my greatest achievement in work? When I was still in university it was big news if your work was put on the wall at the annual showcase and I lusted over the idea of my shiny poster nested cosily in the corner. It’s small-fry compared to a lot of my achievements now, but it was the only time I was ever able to show my mom that I had potential, she was immensely proud. She never saw any of my future achievements.

Where would I most like to live? Anywhere green, anywhere with water and anywhere where my mind is at its most sane. Loads of animals and zero chain companies in my area. My country lives off of the phrase “local is lekker”, I find that a very important part of my living circumstances. To be surrounded by historical buildings and cheap beer would also be a plus side (but now I am just pushing my luck).

What is my most treasured possession? The memories that I hold of my mother, how she used to hold me, laugh. I cling to those snippets tightly, they are the only truly remarkable things of hers that I can pass on to my younger brother and sister.

What is my most marked characteristic? My need to leave an environment better than I found it.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city? The mountainous region of the Cederberg, near Cape Town. I feel at peace floating in their rivers, I can still feel the crispness and freshness on my skin. You plop into your camping chair which is delicately balanced in the water and gently place your feet in, one at a time. The environment is like nothing anywhere else in the world; the silence that you experience and the animals you encounter…simply magic.

What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city? I currently live in Winchester – the old royal city of England. Here there lies the most beautiful, history riddle cathedral which is surrounded by an open planned graveyard, the gravestones could be as old as the 15th century. My partner and I will buy our lunch at the local cafe called Monde and walk around, reading all the names and marked last words of those who came before us. One that really sticks with me is of a man who passed away in the 1700’s from consuming too much beer – often you will see sobriety coins placed on this grave. For me, witnessing how even through unfortunate passings, someone is able to inspire and even celebrate the success of others simply shows you how any story can give meaning and inspiration to people.

What books influenced my life and how? I remember never being able to put down books, now my attention is unfortunately too divided and procrastinated for me to read. A book which I hadn’t thought of for over a decade is The Firework-Makers Daughter written by Philip Pullman, which was read to me as a little girl by my mother; it was the first time I remember being able to visually imagine a story in my mind. If anything it signifies the very beginning of my creative journey.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? All of it, I would have my own curated playlists loaded on loop and cram as much of it in before my time comes.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? I don’t think I have ever been able to idolize a fictional character before, instead I manage to fall in love with them, becoming incredibly heartbroken when the story is over.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? The women of Africa who go every day not knowing if they are going to be alright. The women of Africa who walk tens of kilometres every day to collect water, carrying kilos on their heads merely to provide life for their homes. The women of Africa who’s basic rights are overlooked, who are abused and ignored – yet they continue to fight, they continue to work towards providing for their loved ones and for life. These women are my heroes.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? Krotoa, the story of a valiant, Khoi translator who bridges languages between the early Dutch settlers and Khoi tribes of southern Africa. Perspective changing.

What role play stories in my life and work? I pride myself on being a sponge, I listen to stories, absorb them and then interpret them as my own. Stories are in my blood, they are my life. There is no one or the other. My culture is built around storytelling, it’s how we connect, share, comfort and live.

What do the words ‘You are the storyteller of your own life’ to me? As a child, you grow up with things just happening for you. Your parents set up your social gatherings, appointments, even the food you eat is decided for you. This all changes through age, death and immigration – all of a sudden you stop hearing from these friends, your neck never stops creaking and you’re eating ramen for lunch for a week straight. A caterpillar can only stay in its cocoon for so long until it needs to learn how to flutter as a butterfly. This meta(phor)morphosis has forced me to create all these things for myself, I need to make my own rules, my own stories – hell I need to live my own life. It links to my idea of happiness, if I want something I need to make it happen or I will forever stay inside a building, slowly fading away.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? My second mother, Gase Sechogela, who has worked with us since I was a baby. Her entire family and mine are linked to the hip, her kids will forever be a part of my family and we actually just welcomed her granddaughter into the world who is now the baby of the house and of whom I receive regular photographs of.

Which people or companies would I like to work with in 2022?
BBC’s Natural History sector as a videographer and post production editor.
The United Nations
The Natural History Museum

What project, in 2022, am I looking forward to work on? Gradient creation tweaks something in my brain, I am busy working on a stack of pieces for my own personal collection. Diving deeper into the world of humanitarian work, I am also keen to create video campaigns that fundamentally alter the way humanity NGO’s advertise themselves, hopefully even finding myself in South Sudan in the next 2 years.

Where can you see me or my work in 2022? If you’re interested in an organisation that is creating sustainable change in Africa look out for Diar Foundation, you can find my work on their social pages. Watch this space, I am hoping to make waves of change in every sector I move to.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? My dad is a great source of inspiration for me; as a farmer he is always busy outside in the fields or chatting merrily with his staff. A true leader in the town I grew up in, I watch him work and come home, still with a huge amount of energy and love to give to his family. He is in his late 60’s now and continues to wake up with the same amount of gusto as the day before. When I read “Passion Never Retires” my mind solely goes to him, a man who has more passion in his pinky tip than many groups of people.

Which creative professionals should Peter invite to tell their story?
Carmen Schaefer
Thaakirah Miller
Kayli Vee Levitan
Jes Graham
Wen-Ching Chang
Erin Kemper
Pepe Marias

How can you contact me?
LinkedIn: Pier Veller
Instagram: @pierveller or @pierpearwhatever

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