Caribou Creative
We're Caribou Creative, a graphic design studio in the Comox Valley that wholeheartedly believes successful businesses stem from great design. Our focus is on identity, print, packaging and web design.



Below is a peak into the graphic design life at Caribou Creative. I will post articles on different design processes, provide tricks & tips for clients and offer advice to budding designers. I'll also throw in a mash up of playlists, random FAQ's and things that inspire me just to keep things interesting. I hope you enjoy.


The daily grind.


I get a handful of emails a week from budding designers or freelance newbies asking for advice, and the same question always seems to pop up: 

'How do you stay consistent with your routine?'

I think it takes a certain type of personality and discipline to work for yourself, or from home, or on the side after hours late at night in a coffee shop (ie: nuts). There's no right answer, but I can tell you what has and hasn't worked for me over the years.

I'd like to preface that my schedule is a continual work in progress, I still have days where I'm up to my eyeballs in work and look forward to long weekends just to catch up, but I think I have mastered a routine that keeps me sane, my clients happy and my workload manageable.


6am: Wake-up, meditate, get ready for the day
-I find it important for me to start the day quietly, without feeling rushed or stressed, so I give myself a full two hours to ease into the morning before I sit down to work.

8-9am: Sit down at my desk with a pot of fresh brewed coffee
-I 'technically' don't start work until 9am, so this first hour is uninterrupted time for me and I avoid the temptation of emailing or taking phone calls. I've already written out my tasks for the day in my day-timer the night before, so I know what holds precedent. I try to give myself 2-3 pending tasks that I can choose from, so if I'm not feeling motivated for one project, there is another option or two that I can work on. It's terribly hard for me to be consistently creative on a daily basis, so I find that giving my brain options really helps to eliminate the block we as artists can be faced with.

9-10am: Go through emails, reply to what is pressing, flag those that can wait and send any that have been added to my 'to do' list.

10-1pm: This is the time I get the bulk of my work done. I hunker down and check as much off my list as I can. Knowing this is the most creative time of day for me, I spend it illustrating, designing, and sketching rather than on medial tasks. I also like to take this time to post my process on social media outlets like Instagram, Facebook or Dribbble.

1-2pm: No matter where I am in my day, I take this time to get outside, take the dog for a walk, go for a quick paddle board or take a lap around the x-country ski trail. As tempting as it can be to plow through the day when I'm in a groove, I've realized over time that re-setting my brain for an hour or so makes a WORLD of difference to my afternoon's productivity. And my health. And my sanity. I just do it now without overthinking it.

2-5pm: I usually bring my lunch to my desk (a habit I'd like to break) and hunker down for the rest of the afternoon. I'll re-check emails to ensure there's nothing pressing, then either continue the process I was on in the morning, or I'll switch to invoicing, backing up work, packaging files or other 'office type' tasks that need to be done if my brain is creatively fried for the day.

5-6pm: Workout. I give myself options here too so that I don't get stuck in a rut. If I'm feeling tired, I'll try a yin yoga class, or if I drank too much coffee I'll burn it off with a tabata class. Stress usually forces me to get outside and go for a run (which I hate) but I've never regretted a workout. Not once :)

6:30-bed: This is a bit of a work in progress for me. My partner gets home around 6:30 and we usually eat dinner together, maybe watch a movie, read, or I'll go have a glass of wine or tea with friends. Lately, with cold weather creeping in, I've found myself slipping back into my studio on those dark rainy nights and responding to emails, researching design and mapping out projects. It's REALLLLY difficult to turn my brain off at night and my 40 hour weeks can quickly turn into 60-70 hour burn outs.


With that said, I no longer feel the hesitation to take a day off when the surf is up, or hop on a plane to see a show in Vancouver for the night. My dedication borders on insanity at times (just ask my friends and family) but when you love what you do it rarely feels like 'work' amiright?

In my next post, I will go into detail about bundling up days, saying no to meetings and keeping clients in check with timelines.


I'd love to hear what keeps YOU motivated and inspired to keep pushing. Offer up your advice friends!