Meet Ashley Hohnstein, Senior Graphic Designer at Target and amazing illustrator and lettering artist. As an in-house designer with both freelance and personal projects on the side, Ashley thrives off of a very structured schedule—which most importantly includes practicing self-care! Check out her sunny home office in Minneapolis and see what a typical workday looks like for Ashley.
Where do you work? Tell us about your space(s).
During the day, I work at Target on branding and packaging work. We have a big open concept office. At night, I do a lot of personal work and have more recently started to do freelance branding, illustration, and lettering work. I moved into a new apartment nearly a year ago and my top priority was finding somewhere that had an office/studio space. I lucked out, and found one! My office is a small sunroom located in the front of my apartment facing out on a busy street in Minneapolis. It’s big enough for my large desk, bookshelf and a small armchair that I literally bought so my dog would hang out with me in here. It gets cold here in the winter, so a space heater is a must, but it’s bright and sunny in here year round. I really don’t like working at places like coffee shops—I get self-conscious and end up procrastinating. By having a dedicated space in my home, I’m able to be more productive and separate work and play.
What hardware and software do you use to create your designs?
I use a lot of the expected tools: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe InDesign on my MacBook Pro which I have plugged into a large Dell monitor. A dual screen setup is great for me because I constantly need something streaming, whether it’s something on Netflix or YouTube videos. The majority of my lettering work is done on my iPad Pro and I switch back and forth between Procreate and Adobe Sketch depending on what brushes I want to use. My current favorite brush pack is the Mid-Century set for Procreate on Retro Supply Co.
Tell us about your routine (or lack of one.) How do you structure your days to get things done?
I am very much a to-do list type of lady. I thrive under structure. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not taking breaks. I live for taking breaks and practicing self-care. I just schedule them into my nights. I typically get home from work around 5:30 pm, have dinner, hang out with my dog or friends for a couple of hours, and pick up work time again around 8:00 pm. To help me remember everything I need to do, I use Google Keep . It’s a really simple, clean, and free app through Google and syncs throughout devices. I keep pinned notes for each day of the week and have an icon system to distinguish tasks I need to do during the day vs. tasks for night time.
When I first graduated college I struggled a lot with tracking my tasks and remembering things, and I took an online productivity course that explained your brain isn’t meant to retain information, it’s meant to continually process it out. It makes sense that we have trouble remembering every little thing we need to do. It was a major point of anxiety for me. By keeping very organized and lengthy to-do lists, I manage to avoid the bulk of my stress around forgetting things.
How do your space, tools, and habits benefit you? What about those things do you think needs improvement?
As mentioned earlier, having a separate space inside of my home for work was very crucial for me as I transition into what I consider to be a new phase of my career (I have lots of things I’m working on). My old apartment was just a desk in my living room and I ate dinner there too. Moving to a place with an office did wonders for what I was able to accomplish on a regular basis.
As far as things that need improvement, even though I’m a to-do list devotee, I still have a really hard time winding down at night and getting to work. It’s something I hope will get better with more practice. I’m also still trying to nail down a better workflow for transferring my lettering and illustration work back and forth between my iPad and my main Adobe apps on my laptop. I am very tempted to try something out like a Cintiq but obviously, that’s a huge investment.