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Behind the scenes

A typical day in the very untypical life of a graphic designer – ME!

So, I often get asked – ‘OMG your job sounds amazing’ But what do you all day?

Well, let me try and tell you.

First up, and this is very important -  it’s not all glamour. OK kids? It’s not. Sorry.

I’m a mum to two boys, two dogs and a bearded dragon and they all need feeding. One of them likes bugs for breakfast, one of them likes donuts, two of them are grateful for whatever is given to them and one of them sometimes doesn’t show up for breakfast at all. That’s OK, he’s a good dragon boy really. But what has this got to do with being a designer? It’s got everything to do with being a designer. It’s how I earn my coin and it’s how I put kai on the table. It’s also what I love to do.

So, when the dependents are fed, watered, and off in their various directions I get stuck into my day. And my days are never the same and they very rarely if ever disappoint

There are always different tasks, different clients and different projects to work on. It’s never dull at Lemonface Towers. Typically, the first thing I do after the gentle morning commute (I live in Levin not Rome...or Auckland for that matter)  is check on my emails and to-do list for the day. I’ve started using a project management system to manage my time, project deadlines, and all project communications. Prior to this I’d made do with post-it notes and journals and that was fine until I realised I’d run out of wall space to attach any more post-its to and I was on journal #237. Being busy is 92% good as it means you’re good at what you do and it’s 8% scary.

The day

The number of projects I work on throughout an average day varies. Some days, I’ll have 8/10 smaller tasks to accomplish that day for different clients, and other times it might be two or three bigger tasks that require more time and headspace, such as design concepts for the websites currently on the board, logo creation, brand development etc. For these jobs I need to experiment with different layouts, colours, styles, themes and typography.

I’ll usually try to get the smaller, quicker projects done in the morning. That way, I know that I will have the rest of the day to spend on the more time-intensive projects. It’s like being back in school and sitting an exam - answer the questions you know you can finish first and come back to the ones that are a little more challenging later. However, as a designer, you will sometimes get into the zone on a particularly engaging project where ideas just flow to you and you are able to crank out designs in quick succession. This is where the magic happens and where the best work comes from.

There’s not always this luxury though...some days will have copy deadlines, presentation deadlines, print deadlines. And they all have to be met.

What about meetings?

Yup there are meetings to factor in. New business meetings, briefing meetings, research meetings, production meetings, progress meetings, debriefing meetings. I’ll meet with printers and discuss paper stocks. Should we print digitally or offset? Would a spot U/V look good on that? What’s the quantity? You need it WHEN???!!! I’m lucky because I work in a very cool collaborative workspace with like minded individuals who offer services that compliment my own. If I need inspiration, a sound board, a quick opinion or sometimes just a cup of coffee then a shout out down the corridor will usually see a fellow collaborator come running. I’m so lucky to do what I do and I’m so lucky to do it where I do.

What kind of work do I do?

It varies (thankfully). Currently 60% is web-related, while the other 40% is print, event management, social media management etc…I strive to find time for my own business too. It’s so important to keep an eye on what Lemonface Design do and how we’re perceived. It’s so important to keep an eye on new technology and advances in the industry. It’s so important to keep things fresh. Always fresh, never stale. Stale outlook = stale output. It’s worth repeating that being able to switch it up and work on a variety of projects is hugely refreshing for me. My clients come from a myriad of backgrounds and services. They offer different things. My job is to sell them in the best light. It’s an honour, it’s a privilege. It’s never a chore.

Where does the inspiration come from?

Everywhere and nowhere. Sometimes it flows. Sometimes it trickles. Research plays a big part in inspiration. There’s a science element to design. Trying to understand why people behave the way they do shapes my design output. I owe it to my clients to understand what their offer is, and what makes them special. The better I know them, the better I understand my own work. And if all that fails – fresh air - shoot some snaps, observe what’s going on around me, visit a gallery, chat to a friend. Coffee is good too, and wine (after 5pm obvs).

Does collaboration help?

Um, yes. 100% yes. Lemonface is 6yrs old now and for the first few years we cut a lone path getting to know ourselves and what we wanted to do. We’re growing up now and realising that potential is everywhere. We know who the best people to work with are. We know the best suppliers who offer the best value and service. We pass on our experience to our clients. Now Lemonface trade from a shared workspace where creativity and collaboration oozes from the floorboards. When the key turns in the lock each morning the likelihood of an exceptional day drifts up the staircase with us all too. There’s no drudge, no monotony. Just possibilities. Glorious possibility.

What happens when you log off for the evening?

Mind your own business.