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Well, it depends on what you do, where you’re hired, and what industry you’re in.

Let’s start with my job. I’m one of the in-house designers at my company by day, and a freelance graphic designer by whenever-I’m-not-at-work.

The Routine

I walk in at 8am. I grab a coffee or water from the kitchen. I sit down. I greet my co-workers. I open my email! Bam! The day has started.

Tasks

Most of our design tasks are assigned to us using a system. Most of the tasks are requests from other employees in other departments inside the company. These requests can range from updating the date in a brochure to creating a Snapchat Geofilter for a special event. Anything can happen as long as it’s “design-able”. It’s your job to take the requests, and “make it look pretty.”

There’s a team of us; for the introverted designers out there, don’t worry, teams are good. You’ll need people to bounce your ideas to, and to complain to when you’re both under relatable design stress.

And a team lead of course! The team lead manages the requests we receive in the system and dishes it out to us in our design meetings. Every company is different, but the logistics is pretty much the same for in-house design teams. Since we’re an in-house design team, our requests are from other employees, not clients, like a creative agency would have. The design meeting happens once a week; We go over what projects we’re working on, waiting on, haven’t heard from, or future projects. We laugh a little…then we go back to our desks and conquer!

Demo

Let’s say I agreed to do two new projects. My team lead would forward the request to me with the due date/design specs and I would get to work. If there are other projects that I’m working on, I would have to prioritize which projects are due sooner.

Let’s say one request is to create a new logo for a new program inside the company. I have about 2-3 weeks to get a couple of samples over to the requestor.

Depending on time and the complexity of the project, I like to start with sketching:

Analog sketching. I tried the whole tablet thing (I actually have the Monoprice 10 x 6.25 now), but I keep falling off the wagon. My sketching is done on pen and paper, not on the computer. Primarily, using this sketchbook (the SPIRAL 8×10 Eccolo World Traveler is amazing) and a  .7 G-2 pen (also amazing, the fashion kind–preferably blue). If you sketch on the computer, good for you! Everyone’s process is different—yet intriguing.  One piece of advice: “I’m not very good at drawing.” SO! Who cares! Sketch! And sketch some more! Doodle if you have to. Sketching is perfect for getting your ideas out of your head and creating new possibilities. There shouldn’t be any judgement in a sketch. It’s a draft, not a thesis. Just the act of holding a pencil or pen in your hand can work wonders for creativity.

…I’d sketch out a couple of ideas. Scribble some more ideas and combinations. Maybe take a day or two to come back and review with a pair of fresh eyes on concepts I decided to pursue. At this point, I can pretty much take my sketch and bring it to life on the computer. I’ll either eyeball the design and recreate it using Illustrator or I’ll take a picture of the sketch and iMessage it to my laptop to load onto Illustrator—if it’s a 6+ on a minimalistic scale of 1-10. I love to refine my sketches on the computer! Props to the graphic designers and artists who can render beautiful sketches on paper and barely have to touch anything on the computer. Me on the other hand, rough sketching and ambiguous lines are my favorite. It’s pure flow when I’m ready to bring my sketch to life on the computer and refine it with whatever digital tool.

Once the design stage is complete (the time varies to be honest) it’s onto the review stage!

Review Stage

The review stage is…well, review. My team lead has to review it, and if my team lead has any changes or comments, they have to be made/acknowledged before I turn it in to the requestor. Once the design is approved, I’ll send it off to the requestor for review–their team has to look at it, and they’ll ether get back to us with an update or approval. The review stage is normally the last step in completing a request.

Blessed with the final approval? Now, it goes off to whatever delivery medium that was specified in the initial request: digital (newsletters, graphics, etc.), print (t-shirts, brochures, etc.), and more!

That’s pretty much it! Add it to your portfolio (if you can), and tackle another project!

Recommendations

Keeping Up With Your Tasks

Keeping up with all of your tasks can be daunting, but that’s why you need to perfectly practice time management now more than anything. We’re human, everyone falls behind, but it’s important to specifically know why you’re falling behind. Once you know that, you can tackle the problem and find a solution. Capitalize on products to help with your productivity.

I use Omnifocus. Omnifocus helps by organizing my to-dos, my projects, and my responsibilities. Most importantly, not just for work, for home, too! Check it out here! If not Omnifocus, start with a simple paper list to get you started and to keep you involved. There are many free resources you could try before committing to anything serious. Omnifocus is based on the Getting Things Done (GTD) system by David Allen, and that system can be done with just pencil and paper. If spending that extra money on paid apps makes you want to start creating a task list, get the app! Remember, motivation alone is not the key to success, it’s discipline! In the meantime, here’s a free article from Asian Efficiency covering the GTD system: click here to de-clutter your brain now.

Music

Ah. Music. I NEED music. Music helps to spark new ideas. Music gets your creative pixels flowing. The rhythm can influence your pace, realtime thought process, and delivery. I have a playlist for just about every musical mood I’m audibly craving. Check them out on Spotify if you’re curious:

My favorite: Chris Chris’ Chill Playlist

Here’s a SUPER chill playlist.

I call this one Sunrise. Sunshine.

And my get turnt, TOO Turnt playlist!

Gospel!

You can find me ignoring society with the playlists above!

R&B, Alternative R&B, Gospel, Hip-hop, Rap, Pop, Indie music—hey—if I like a song, then I like a song. If I like enough songs from the same artists, I’ll keep tabs on them. Music is timeless and transcending.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe.

-Chris Chris

Freelance Graphic Designer

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