Meet Laura Prpich, the graphic designer behind Caribou Creative—a design studio based out of British Columbia. Laura takes us through a typical workday and explains how she creates and maintains a structured routine that also leaves room for much-needed flexibility.
Where do you work? Tell us about your space(s).
I work from my home in a little town on Vancouver Island in Canada. My office is smallish, but perfect for what I need. The best part is the 10ft commute I have to make every morning. I love finding ways to reduce my impact on the planet and working from home felt like an obvious choice. If I need to meet with a client (which is pretty rare) I just head down to the local coffee shop.
What does your design process look like and where do you find inspiration?
I’ve been working as a graphic designer for 19 years (the past nine being for myself), so my process has become quite streamlined as a result of a lot of trial and error. With that said, I’m still always finding ways to stay more organized and improve where I can.
I primarily work for small, independent businesses around the globe that have some sort of vested interest in sustainability. If my pricing, process, and timelines align with theirs, then I consider us a good match. I spend a lot of time researching, exploring competitor markets, and figuring out how to differentiate before I put pen to paper and begin the design process.
Inspiration can be found in a variety of places for me. My brother owned a bookshop for a number of years so I’m lucky enough to have some great design books in my collection — I even have some typography books dating back to the 1900s. I love Instagram for scoping out trends and use Dribbble a lot for inspiration.
Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places — like standing in line at the Post Office. My husband is great for bouncing ideas off of too. He knows and cares little about design and sometimes that can be the best resource.
Tell us about your routine (or lack of one.) How do you structure your days to get things done?
I’m a total creature of habit, so my workday has basically been the same forever. I start work at 8 am, but I’m not ‘on the clock’ until 9 am. This gives me an hour to get work done uninterrupted and it’s easily my most productive hour of the day. I work until noon, then go to the gym for an hour. It’s such a great way to break up my day and I feel completely rejuvenated and ready to sit at my desk again afterward.
When I end my work day is dependant on how I’m feeling. If I’m really into a project or have a tight deadline I’ll keep going until I’m done — which could be quite late at night, but I try and wrap things up before 5 pm. That’s also Glen’s dinner time (my disgruntled wiener dog) so he never lets me forget when it’s quittin’ time.
My goal is to complete 5.5 billable hours a day, so if I achieve that before noon, I reward myself with the rest of the day off. It’s a great self-motivator for me, and I almost never work weekends. Life’s too short for that nonsense.
How do your space, tools, and habits benefit you? What about those things do you think needs improvement?
I love working from home and find it so much more productive than when I worked in an agency setting. Not continually getting interrupted with people, phone calls, meetings, etc. has made me a much better designer I think. I also love not wearing pantyhose to work.
I have an office that I love and all my tools and resources at an arm’s length. That combined with a strong internet connection is really all I need to make me happy.
If I could make improvements in my routine, I’d say that I could lay off the social media a bit more, check my emails less often…and brushing my hair before I start my day wouldn’t hurt.