Work Diary: Laura Pitt
Each month we publish work diaries from creative people we admire. This month, Toronto-based designer Laura Pitt gave us a look into her work day and how she finds creativity at her 9-to-5.
I wake up to my alarm.
Wake up again to my second alarm.
And then off goes my third one! Waking up is tough, but the third time’s the charm and I actually manage to roll over onto my other side. I flip through some Instagram stories and scroll through Twitter and check the new messages from my unfinished conversations that I fell asleep halfway through (sorry friends). Then I check the weather, and see that it’s nice so I’ve decided I’ll walk to work—something I’ve been trying to do most days because it helps wake me up, clear my head, and gives my mood the boost it desperately needs. I would recommend to try doing this if the weather permits and work isn’t too far for you!
Before I leave I do a quick check up on the plants I’ve got scattered around the house. I’ve heard that it’s good to water your plants early in the morning or later at night, something to do with evaporation I think?
The 45 minute walk was good and I always break a small sweat. I usually try to get to work by 9:00 but sometimes you need that extra half hour so I’ll arrive at 9:30 on slower days. I stumble to the coffee machine and get the espresso going.
Oh yeah, I should probably mention I work a 9-5 job at an advertising agency called Camp Jefferson as a designer and focus a lot of my time on projects related to branding. Some people see working a 9-5 job as a creative as a bad thing, and I used to think that too, but I’ve realized I’m a person who needs that kind of structure. Everyone works differently and that’s okay! If I didn’t have that structure I’d waste away the day watching Bon Appetit videos or catching up on Bachelor in Paradise. Yes, I’m well aware I’m garbage.
I go through emails I’ve missed, check my schedule for the day and the rest of the week. Today we get a nice breakfast since it’s one of my coworkers 3rd work anniversary! Woohoo! I continue my routine and clean up my desktop. A clean desktop, organized folders and proper file names is the only way I can survive when working with multiple projects and multiple clients. I know it takes a little bit more effort, but trust me, it’ll pay off when it’s been 3 months since you finished up a project and client reaches out for some random file they need. When naming files Using_Titlecase_andUsing_Underlines_IsHelpful.
After gorging myself on eggs, bacon, croissants, and loads of fruit I make a small checklist on a sticky note of what I need to get done. I keep it pretty general in which I’ll include deliverables that need to be sent off to client or presentations that I’ll need to have done. I place it on my monitor to make sure I don’t forget about anything. As cheesy as it sounds, having a physical checklist really helps me remember and accomplish multiple tasks and it’s a very satisfying feeling to tick that little box.
Most of my day will be spent preparing a presentation I’ve got at 4:00PM in which I’ll be sharing my first thoughts on design concepts for a client that addresses the need for more research in women’s mental health and supports the women in that field. A very cool opportunity and also something I care a lot about!
The morning whizzes by and it’s lunchtime, but because of the huge breakfast I’m not that hungry. However, I still manage to join some people who are headed down to The Ex since I work very close to it. I treat myself to some Tiny Tom Donuts (cinnamon sugar over everything) because I know I kind of sort of deserve them.
Piece of Advice: Take breaks! This break can be going for a short walk around the block or just getting up to refill your glass of water. When you’re working in an office all day it can get quite stuffy and exhausting. I also find walking to help me get my thoughts and blood flowing again.
I’m feeling pretty okay about the presentation. It’s more about thinking how I’m going to say certain things and organizing it in an order that makes sense and makes an impact. I’m not the best presenter and not the most well-spoken, so even though it’s an internal meeting my palms are a little sweaty.
A coworker comes up to me asking me if they’ve set up a print-ready file correctly. For this deliverable there are a ton of Pantone colours being used. It’s a Photoshop Document and I’m having some trouble figuring out if it’s been done properly. Photoshop is not my best friend, and I have grown a tremendous liking to Illustrator and InDesign. Since we’re pressed for time, I unfortunately suggest just starting over in Illustrator. In the end, it was pretty quick and all worked out!
Lesson Learned: If you’re doing anything print-related that involves any kind of special inks, use Illustrator or InDesign. The colour libraries are way easier to access and it’s a lot easier to check if the file has been set up properly using the Separations Preview window. And also, don’t worry about asking your coworkers for help! If they’re really your coworker they’ll have your back.
It’s getting to that part of the day where exhaustion starts to creep in and you’re wishing you lived in a country where siestas were part of your daily routine. I look through my oddly named playlists and end up choosing one I’ve named “Mayonnaise” which has a bunch of pop hits, meaning lots of Mariah Carey and Britney Spears.
Getting closer to the time of presentation I grow a little anxious. I go through my presentation about 100 times over flipping back and forth through slides. I’m rehearsing the words I’m going to try and say, really hoping they make sense and it doesn’t sound like word vomit.
Awesome, my presentation went well! A weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It’s more or less the end of the day so I join the huddle around the table in the kitchen where drinks and snacks are located. I have a drink or two before I leave and have to buckle down on a small side project I currently have on the go.
After a full day I’m buzzing on the walk home with my tote bag holding another beer or two that I may have taken from the office fridge to get me through the rest of the work I have ahead of me. Though I am tired, I’m excited because this is where I get to have some creative freedom. I’ve been very lucky to have a friend ask me to create a few posters for their show next week in which they’ve given me full control over the art direction. Every creative’s curse and blessing! Upon another request from a friend, I’ve also been asked to produce some prints of photos I took for my thesis where I mish-mashed North American and Chinese food together to speak to my connection to both places.
Hours slip by as I work away on the posters in my bed. Pajamas on, teeth brushed, serums applied. Thank you Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% and 100% Plant-Derived Squalane for saving my troubled combination and blemish-prone skin!
I look at the little clock in the top right corner of my screen. My eyes are starting to glaze over and I decide that it’s time I hit the hay. I hit Command+S four or five times just to be sure my file’s been saved. I finish up my late night conversations with friends who live across the pond—don’t want to leave anyone hanging this time.