Take a peek into the lifestyle of Graphic Designer and Photographer Annie Hall, based in the bustling creative scene of Salt Lake City, Utah. Hear Annie explain how she structures her workdays and navigates second-guessing herself to ultimately create her best work.
Where do you work? Tell us about your space(s).
Hey! I’m Annie, long time freelancer adjusting to the full-time in-house designer life at a Salt Lake City-based design agency, Struck. For the past four years, I have been freelancing and contracting for studios and clients across the United States, which has challenged me to become an expert in my trade. I typically get hired for all kinds of work, ranging from identities and print design, to digital sites, and fully stylized photography. I love the challenge of getting to tackle versatile projects. It keeps me on my toes and never allows for a dull day.
Anywhere with an outlet and an iced latte is my ideal workspace. Bustling coffeehouses and my own home are generally deemed my top workspace picks. It really just depends on my tasks for the day. If my day consists of concepting and doesn’t have looming deadlines or client meetings, I like to kick back at home mindlessly listening to questionable television as background noise or Spotify songs on repeat. On more demanding days I like to avoid any distractions at home and get into a caffeine-intrigued focus at a local coffee shop.
What does your design process generally look like?
I start most of my designs by internalizing any brief or creative details to get familiar with what I’ll be working on. My process does vary depending on the work I do—sometimes I do quick sketches if I’m flooded with ideas, whereas other times I go straight into experimenting digitally. For almost every project, I love to create mood boards. They help create a dialogue between my aesthetic ideas and the direction I need to take them.
About 90% of my work is done within Adobe Creative Cloud—specifically Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom, After Effects, and InDesign (in that order as well). Besides those, I utilize Sketch and for more illustrative needs, I turn to my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil often using Procreate or Vectornator as my go-to apps. Other life-saving tools I utilize: Dropbox as my primary storage, Spotify (specifically the Mind Right album when I need to get shit done), Photo Mechanic when I need to cull through raw images quickly, and Astropad so I can connect my iPad Pro to my MacBook Pro. Guys, these tools are life-changing.
Tell us about your routine (or lack of one.) How do you structure your days to get things done?
Mornings are when I get things done. I seem to consistently structure my morning routine and workflow, and the rest of the day unfolds depending on my workload at the time. For mornings, an hour of peace and not tackling my to-do’s at 6:00 am keeps me sane. I often don’t glance at any emails, texts, or social media until afterward. Instead, I go straight into workout mode, whether it’s the gym or taking my pup on a walk.
As the rest of the day unfolds, I check off things one-by-one which generally consists of any meetings or immediate tasks. Although I’m good at deadlines, I realize I create best when I’m under pressure. While I typically get most of the client interactions and demanding tasks done throughout the day, I’ve found that anytime after 9:00 pm is my primetime for cranking out new ideas.
Up until last year, I spent unhealthy amounts of time working through the night (thanks college). Although I don’t pull all-nighters anymore, I do find that working late at night eases me to experiment with concepts or designs and lessens the anxiety of second-guessing every move I make. I could be working on something for a month and trash it for something I did the night before. With projects that I haven’t quite found the “AH-HA” moment, I will usually take a break and give it another go later that night.
How do your space, tools, and habits benefit you? What about those things do you think needs improvement?
I’m thankful for advanced technology. It gives me the gusto to work with essentially any creative or client regardless of where they are or where I am, whether that’s out-of-state or in a 30-minute Lyft ride. I can travel anywhere knowing I have all the tools to complete each project.
I love being a creative and I love what I do—so much that I also consider it my biggest downfall. I often work well over the amount I’ve allotted myself for a project or work into days when I should be taking a well-deserved screen break. I’ve realized it’s crucial for creatives to know when to stop and be done for the day, and this is something I continue to work on.