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A day in the life of a graphic designer

One of my absolute favourite parts of working in a creative field is how diverse my day can be. It’s a bit like that wise saying: you can’t step into the same river twice. That being said, I tend to thrive on routine–paradoxically, it’s predictability in the structure of my day that allows for maximum creativity in my work. This is a typical “day in the life” for me.

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    Design thinking

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    Geneviève Lépine

Geneviève is a graphic designer at Initiate.

Working remotely while staying close 

I’m extremely lucky to have the opportunity to work remotely at Initiate. Working from home offers me the flexibility that makes my life run smoothly: I love being able to throw in a load of laundry, pop a recipe in the oven, or step out onto the sunny patio at lunch. Not having a commute also means more time for reading & exercise—I grab a jacket and step out the door for a walk the second my workday is over. Not to mention the easy access to snacks!

Remote work also means that I need to make an effort to be as “present” as possible with my colleagues, through Slack, video calls, etc. I want the richness of getting to know them even though I’m not there with them. I check in with my colleagues throughout the day, letting them know what I’m doing and thinking, and I’ve even been known to occasionally recruit a partner in crime to pull off pranks—like hijacking the office Spotify to play “I Got You Babe” on repeat on Groundhog Day…

No creation without caffeination

Most remote workers will tell you that the secret sauce is a clear delineation between “home” and “work.” For me, that looks like a dedicated office space, complete with all the comforts of a Breville espresso machine, a sit/stand desk, a walking pad, a Saje diffuser, and some tunes. You need to cater to all your senses! I don’t sit at all when I’m at my desk. I’m either standing or walking. If I’m working on a task that requires concentration, I’ll usually be playing classical music. 

In the morning, I make myself a latte—as big as my actual face—put on my walking shoes, and close my office door. Every workday starts with a quick scan of email and Trello to build my to-do list, while also saying hi to everyone on Slack. If there’s no immediate urgency, I take a few minutes to set intentions and journal about what I want to focus on for the day (health, mental health, etc.). My mantra is Just keep showing up, like the sun.

Dreaming in every shade of blue

At Initiate, my tasks are pretty varied: whether it’s designing icons, building infographics, laying out datasheets, creating digital ads, or polishing up presentations, our focus is on creating impactful communications, primarily for high-tech clients—working with every tint and shade of blue you can imagine. 

Projects typically follow the same trajectory: 

1. Fact-finding: review the brief from the client, ask any clarification questions

2. Ideation: research/inspo, sketching, mind-mapping

3. Conceptualization/design: put pixels to “paper”

4. Internal review/feedback: colleagues, creative director

5. Client review: usually a few rounds

6. Production/finalisation: prep files for print/digital publication

If you didn’t track it, did you even do it?

One of the most important aspects of working in an agency or as a freelancer—apart from the design work itself—is keeping track of billable and non-billable hours. This allows for accurate accounting for past & current work and estimations of how time-intensive future tasks will be. It also gives me a sense of my workflow and availability to take on more projects. It might seem mundane, but tracking my time is crucial to my success as a designer.

Leaving work at work

While being remote gives me the flexibility to pop into work mode at any time, I make a point of keeping my work self and my home self separate. I let my team know when I’m about to sign off, and then I physically step out of my work shoes and away from my office. This allows me to balance work and personal life, and be rejuvenated to start creating again the next day. What does your “a day in the life” look like?