A day in the life of… a graphic designer

Non Wood Graphic Designer Cheshire UK

Non Wood – Graphic Designer, Social Secretary & Victory Dancer

06:45  I usually set my alarm earlier than I need to so I can hit snooze a few times before actually getting out of bed. By the time I’m ready, had breakfast, hung the washing out and checked my emails it’s 8.30ish and I head off to work. It’s only a short drive so I’m usually in by quarter to 9. First job – cup of tea!

09:00  I spend the first part of the morning checking and responding to emails and messages, and making sure I have everything I need from clients and colleagues for the day’s projects.

09:15  My design work varies widely from print layouts, such as stationery and brochures, to digital design for e-newsletters and websites. Today I am starting to work on a 24-page company magazine for a client, which is sent to 1000 staff and shareholders. The publication is biannual and is a great project to get creatively immersed in.

For a project like this I begin with a Microsoft Word document from the client containing the entire content for that edition – this is great as it means I can use my time wholly on design. I am also provided with a CD of images to include.

To start with I plan out the pages, sorting which articles fit where and dropping comp images in with the text to get an idea of space and flow. Once all the pages have content the most important thing to do is format the text in the company style, so I apply the correct font styles, spacing, size and column widths for continuity. This then gives me a skeleton frame to build my design around.

Next job is to optimise the photos from the CD so they look their best when printed – as digital cameras vary greatly we get a wide range of image size and quality from clients and it’s our job to make them look as sharp and bright as possible. To do this I edit each one in Photoshop – optimising the colour and brightness and making sure they’re big enough for where I need to put them in the design.

12:30  I break for lunch around 12.30 and I tend to nip home for a sandwich, unless it’s Friday in which case 4 or 5 of us go to the pub instead! The mental and physical break from the studio helps me refocus when I get back.

13:30  I usually have a few emails and calls to respond to after lunch. Today I need to call one of our print suppliers to check progress on a job sent earlier in the week and confirm the delivery address, then I call the client to let them know when to expect the brochures to arrive.

Within my emails I have received a request from a client for some changes to an e-newsletter design I have created for them. As they are only minor amendments I do these and send them back straight away. I try to keep small amends and non-urgent changes to after lunch or the end of the day. That way I can focus on larger projects in longer time chunks and make more progress.

14:00  I have a client coming in later in the afternoon to discuss the concepts I have created for his new company logo. I print each design on an A3 sheet and carefully trim and mount the sheets on board to present during the meeting.

14:30  Turning back to the company magazine, I begin to lay each page out in turn. To do this I scan-read the article featured, picking up any key points and the overall message, and start to design a layout which reflects the tone and sentiment of the article.

16:30  Simon – one of the directors – and I show our client the logo concepts we have been working on. We discuss the pros and cons of various options and provide further ideas for how the branding could work within other settings such as the website and brochures. Taking the designs away with him, our client asks if he can consider the ideas over the weekend, and we arrange to discuss them further the week after via telephone conference.

17:15  Before finishing for the day I check through my emails and sort anything which is needed urgently. I have had sign off on the artwork for an A5 booklet to go to print so I prepare the artwork files and a purchase order from the system and send over to our print supplier. A quick call to the relevant representative confirms receipt and the job is progressed into their system.

17:30  I head off on time and make the short journey home. I tend to ride my bike a few evenings a week if the weather is ok, and prepare dinner with my husband when I get back. Apart from the usual household chores I spend my evenings creating arty masterpieces or trying out new recipes with a glass of wine.