World Photography Day with  Denise Llanera-Wittleton

World Photography Day with Denise Llanera-Wittleton


This year, we celebrate World Photography Day with Denise Llanera-Wittleton, Senior Designer at The National Gallery, UK, sharing her story as a designer, and a creative and her perspective on photography and packaging design

This year, we celebrate World Photography Day with Denise Llanera-Wittleton, Senior Designer at The National Gallery, UK, sharing her story as a designer, and a creative and her perspective on photography and packaging design

Tell us about yourself

I'm a graphic designer! With roots spanning both Austrian and Filipino heritage, my family tree is adorned with medical professionals and staunch traditionalists. But I veered off the well-trodden path to pursue my artistic inclinations. I started as an Interior Designer, a humble origin that eventually catapulted me into the captivating realms of graphic and packaging design—two worlds that unexpectedly collided. Fast forward to today, and I proudly hold the position of Senior Graphic Designer at The National Gallery in London, UK.

The word 'Design' isn't just a label for me; it encapsulates my very essence. I embraced this journey because I had an innate talent for it. I possessed the skills to delve into the creative cosmos, shaping careers through packaging ingenuity, brand finesse, and even the art of photography. Each morning, I wake up with infectious excitement, knowing I get to live my passion to the fullest.

What’s your story? What inspired you and what is the driving force behind your work every day at The National Gallery?

I'm an inspiration seeker, drawing from everything that surrounds me—time's ebb and flow, the mundane beauty of daily life, and the theatre of human interaction. Design, in my eyes, is a versatile playground where my creative essence finds its voice, crafting visual solutions. My time at The National Gallery is a gateway to translate excitement into tangible artistry, woven into the products we craft, a gift for those who appreciate art.

As we celebrate photography today, it calls for a reflection on its origin: painting! Amidst the canvas, self-portraits shine as a timeless example of a modern selfie. Here, my heart finds resonance with Artemisia—the epitome of a woman's virtue immortalized on canvas. This piece is a testament to feminine expression, which could very well have flowed from a woman's hand.

My role as a Senior Graphic Designer is a journey that amplifies the essence within these paintings, recreating their splendour as solutions, refining, and crafting beauty from every stroke. Each day, my focus revolves around maintaining the integrity of these masterpieces, delicately redirecting them into the art of packaging.

Which project(s) are you most proud of and why?

These projects are not the best ones but they are the ones I enjoyed the most. I think design is also about relationships that you build with clients or people you work with on a project. I know designers strive to create the most amazing and unique packaging that can win awards but sometimes it just needs to win the heart of your client.

The Collection Playing Cards for The National Gallery


Mama Little’s Rum Cake

Mama Little’s Rum Cake, although a bit dated now, I loved working on this as I approached this client at her market stall. I loved her product so much that wanted to help her out with her packaging and branding and just by designing some simple packaging and her branding we elevated her absolutely delicious product and gave her a visual identity that helped her approach cafés and other distributors to sell her cakes.

What is your take on art, photography and packaging?

Two pieces of art have deeply resonated with me: as I mentioned before - Artemisia and Rembrandt (the origin of selfies) 

By Baroque female painter Artemisia


Artemisia, the masterpiece by a Baroque female painter, stands not as my favourite, but as a piece I deeply admire. It holds significance not only for its artistic value but also for the groundbreaking role it played for women artists of its time. In an era when women's opportunities were severely limited, Artemisia Gentileschi's portrayal of herself is a symbol of artistic prowess and a daring and audacious move. This painting showcases feminist themes that were quite rare for its period. While overshadowed by Gentileschi's more dramatic works rooted in her tumultuous past, this piece remains a testament to her resolute spirit.

Find out more here.

Rembrandt 34 vs 63


Shifting to Rembrandt, I can't help but draw parallels between his youthful and elderly self. Rembrandt was grappling with the idea of death drawing near. But remember, back in the seventeenth century, folks viewed self-reflection and the mind in a distinct way. Rembrandt might have been less focused on searching his soul and more interested in the artistic puzzles he faced, driven by his fascination with the challenges of his craft.

Find out more here.

National Geography’s Afghan Girl

Credit - National Geography

These two instances, Artemisia's and Rembrandt's, serve as time-travelling selfies—windows into the past that prompt contemplation. As I think of Rembrandt's evolving self, I'm reminded of that National Geographic cover I once adored. It's a testament to how art can transcend time, bridging generations with its eternal message.

Find out more here.

If you could share one message with the young people in the packaging design community, what would it be?

The design industry can be tough. Your worth/brilliance isn’t measured by people’s opinions. Design with intent and integrity, don’t let them grind you down and finally, a job you are scared to lose is a job not worth having.

Find out more about The National Gallery here and Denise Llanera-Wittleton here.