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Designer Katie Chandler on balancing full‑time and freelance work

Meet Katie Chandler, a commercial illustrator and designer based out of Columbus, Ohio. Katie loves bold colors, big ideas, and turning shapes into compassion and curiosity. She is also a proud contributor and studio group member of Pretty Picture Club. Get a glimpse into Katie’s lifestyle and routine as she takes us on a tour of her home office!

Where do you work? Tell us about your space(s).

By day, I work in an office on a team of creatives designing goods that give people ways to express themselves for every occasion (I get to make tons of puns all day). On the side, I work on freelance and personal projects in my home work station. I have artwork of my friends, peers, mentors, and heroes all around my space—including an original Andy J. Miller drawing that says The End Is The Start which is one of my prized possessions. And of course, plants are a must.

I do try to keep a lot of behavioral boundaries. I almost never work in my bedroom or dining room. I also live around the corner from the main library, which is absolutely wonderful to work in. I love working there because if I get stuck, I can walk through aisles of inspiration.

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What hardware and software do you use to create your designs?

The sketchbook is where it all starts! As well as dominantly my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil—they are the dream team for me right now. I also still work with a MacBook Pro and Wacom tablet from time to time. The software I use is mostly Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Procreate. I feel like Procreate is truly changing the game with how accessible and intuitive the program is, and they just keep making it better.

Most recently, I’ve been getting back into traditional media, painting with gouache, colored pencil, and Posca markers, then scanning them and continuing to play around. I’m really excited to see where some of these processes take my workflow!

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  3. Lemonade Eyedrops (v. 2019)

Tell us about your routine (or lack of one.) How do you structure your days to get things done?

To be completely transparent, it’s nice to have a day gig that keeps part of my routine more consistent and holds me accountable (particularly with the benefit of finances, health insurance, etc.). These privileges make it much easier to feel more consistently creative, in my experience. I’m also lucky that my commute is bike-friendly. I actually use my time to get to the office to do a lot of thinking and planning, and I use the ride home to let my mind clear. This usually leaves me feeling rejuvenated for the evening or early mornings to work on freelance projects and my own ideas.

To be completely transparent, it’s nice to have a day gig that keeps part of my routine more consistent.

Part of my structuring process involves planning unplanned time. I like having some elements of my schedule be consistent while making sure other time chunks in my calendar stay open. My personal life is very important to me, so I make sure I always have some flexibility to spend time with friends, family, and my other interests.

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How do your space, tools, and habits benefit you? What about those things do you think needs improvement?

I like the consistent schedule of my day job, but also like to make sure I’m giving myself time to just explore and wonder about what’s next. My little home work station gets the job done, and if I want to turn around and play guitar, I can! As far as tools go, I love how powerful portability has become because setting up for projects is quite painless and keeps the momentum going. I don’t always have to feel anchored to a desktop situation.

I will likely benefit in the future from having an entirely separate personal studio space, at least separate from my living room! My routine is always improving and attempts to meet myself where I’m at, while still pushing forward. I’ll be forever finding when it’s best to rest—a constant struggle when you’re always curious!

Want to keep up with Katie? Find her on Dribbble, Instagram, Twitter, and at katiechandler.com.

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