Talking Shop and Creativity with Designer Olivia Herrick

Olivia Herrick is one of my favorite people to follow.

Not only is she an amazing designer — her work gives me alllll the heart eyes — but she’s seriously wise. Her perspectives on her business and burnout and building a thick skin in her work are lessons we all need, no matter our profession.

Even with her busy schedule, Olivia was kind enough to share her insight with us, chatting about her journey to design, the one-of-a-kind course she’s developing for creatives, and the advice she’d give to budding designers. I. CANNOT. WAIT.

Everyone, meet Olivia!

About You:

Tell us about your journey to design. Was it something you always wanted to do?

Honestly – yes! My mother was a graphic designer so I have always had a deep appreciation for type and color. She infused it into our lives and created a childhood for us that really encouraged us to lean into creativity. I knew by the time I was about 13–14 that I wanted to be a designer and haven’t looked back since. 

What is your design process like? What are the usual steps you take while working a job?

It differs from job to job, but there is a LOT of exploration. A lot of tangible work – sketching, paper, pencil, collage – then a lot of time spent on the computer (you should see my artboards!) creating a gigantic number of concepts that get narrowed down to the concept I share with my clients. I am a big believer in the one concept approach. 

Tell us about your upcoming Creative on Command course. What inspired you to create the course? What will it help people to do?

I am developing Creative on Command because of my own personal journey to overhaul my schedule and take ownership of my creativity.

Like most designers juggling a bunch of projects I simply do not have the luxury of sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike or the creative spirit to “move” me. I promise my clients quality work on a structured timeline and I take that vow extremely seriously. So when the idea of “working when you are inspired” really started to gain traction in the design community – I felt this nudge in myself to lean in the opposite direction and say okay that might work for some people but that absolutely does. not. work for me. I need to be able to create work reliably and on command. It’s a baseline expectation that you will perform your job when you need to in other lines of work and design is really no different.

I want to help designers break down the idea that good design has to take FOREVER. If you need further evidence that great work can be done quickly – google Paula Scher Citibank logo! All of that is to say that it will be a course on harnessing the power of creative practice and encouraging designers to take ownership of their creativity. I am so excited to share it with everyone. 

Where do you find inspiration?

The real world! Almost all of my biggest aha moments happen offline. Put your phone down – you won’t regret it. 

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned while running your own business?

It’s never personal. Accept feedback and criticism. Come to terms with the fact that your job is creating things and then asking people to tell you what they don’t like about them. It’s part of the business – the sooner you can develop a thick skin – the better! Also, be patient. Good things take time and hard work and you’re gonna fall flat on your face a time or two but when you look back it will all make sense, I promise!

What advice would you give aspiring designers?

PRACTICE! Design is a skill that requires frequent practice. If you wanted to be an incredible pianist you’d be at the piano for hours every day. If you want to be a skilled illustrator or type designer or learn how to animate – you’re going to have to do the same thing. 

Tell us about one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on.

Oh, so many! I truly love all of my clients. A few favorites from recently – Goal Digger Podcast, Bumpin’ Blends, Maker Wine. All incredible female-founded and owned businesses. 

How do you avoid burnout?

Hobbies! Having something else that I am passionate about and put time and energy into gives me so much life. For me that is competitive golf – I play around 7–10 tournaments every summer and train throughout the winter as well. It can’t be design all the time – you’ll go crazy. Make sure you have other things in your life that are true hobbies – which means not monetized. Your business doesn’t count! 

How do you choose which projects to take on each month?

I usually can tell within a few minutes or even just from their inquiry form if a client is going to be a good fit. I work with my Studio Manager, Kiara, to see what will and won’t fit in the schedule and map out when we are booking projects. 

What principles guide your work?

I have one primary business mantra and that is that my business is not about me. My business exists for my clients. Everything I do is to serve them and if I ever feel myself getting a little wound up or self-involved I check myself against that as quickly as possible. It keeps me humble, patient, and makes my clients feel loved and appreciated. 

What is your favorite part of your job?

Making, creating, using my hands. It’s honestly pure magic. I get to create something out of nothing every. single. day. How lucky am I? 

The Fun Qs:

What makes you laugh?

My husband, our daughter, some good old fashioned TV comedy like Parks and Rec, The Office

What is your favorite way to unwind?

Hiking, backpacking, reading, playing golf alone at sunset, general solitude 

What meal could you eat exclusively for the rest of your life?

Pasta! (I’m Italian so it’s in my blood) 

What song is currently stuck in your head?

“Cowboy Take Me Away” by the Dixie Chicks 

What is the best movie you’ve seen recently?

Not a big movie girl but I do love a good Netflix/Prime series! Season two of Fleabag is probably the best television I have ever seen. I watched it twice! 

Visit Olivia’s site here, and follow her on Instagram @OliviaHerrickDesign.

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