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Designing an Environment for Creativity: A Behind-the-Scenes Tour of My Studio

Home Studio Tour

“One of the greatest necessities… is to discover creative solitude.” – Carl Sandburg

When it comes to creativity, or really anything productive, environment is everything. The sounds, smells, and space you surround yourself with are incredibly important to fostering the mindset needed to accomplish.

As a business owner, I’ve also found that the environment you create is a direct reflection of your brand.

That’s why, when I moved from an external design studio to one within my own home, I took special care to make it exactly what I needed to reflect Harris Studios and to perform at my best.

Today, I’d like to take you on a tour of what that looks like:

2015_03_12 Tour 01

1. A clean, tidy desk

I work on design projects for a variety of clients, meaning I need space both mentally and physically to dream up different concepts and visions for each project. My desk serves as the place where the design happens, and keeping my desk clean save a few necessary, deliberate items – my Wacom tablet, fresh fruit, and beautiful flowers – gives me that space. If creativity thrived on clutter, life might be easier — but then, it wouldn’t be as fun, right?

2. Ambiance

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I am so incredibly fortunate to work out of my 1800’s post and beam-style home, where accents like this fireplace adorn several rooms. There’s nothing like the crackle of a wood fire during the cold winter months, or the sound of the breeze coming through the front door during the warm summer. Setting the tone in the room is so important to my mood, and being comfortable allows me to create freely. My office mascot, Banks — also my walking buddy — is a frequent visitor, and enjoys the ambiance, as well.

3. Space for what you love

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All work and no play makes for a tough day. For me, painting is my passion. It fuels my inner artist and largely influences my design work. That’s why it was absolutely imperative that I create a space for painting within my home office. For you, this space may look like a reading nook; a set of workout equipment; a ping-pong table. Making space for what you love will inspire your work in ways you can’t even imagine — I promise you that.

4. The little details

I firmly believe in making your space your own, as you can tell. This goes down even to the small details. Whether you’re in a tiny office cubicle or sprawled out on a spacious deck overlooking the ocean, it’s the little details — the photos you hang up, the quotes you write down, the special tokens that remind you of places and people you choose to display — that make the space yours. For me, I also include many fun art supplies, books, and interesting pieces I have picked up on my journey that may serve as inspiration or subject matter at some point. They remind me that an integration of creativity, focus, work and play are imperative to a successful business and balanced life.

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“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Just as Virginia Woolf believed all women should have a room of one’s own to create and succeed, I truly believe that each and every entrepreneur and individual should put careful thought into designing the space they occupy to make it a place that fosters creativity, inspiration, and comfort.

Our best work comes when we’re in a space that allows for it. What does that space look like for you?

Should You Hire a Graphic Designer? Ask Yourself These Three Questions.

2015_02_19 Three Questions Designer

When it comes to running a business, I’m willing to bet quite a bit of your time and energy is spent making decisions. Decisions on your next product or service development; decisions on whether or not to attend that conference; decisions on whether that potential customer is indeed your ideal client. With decisions comes stress. And with stress comes a lack of sleep.

Well, when it comes to whether or not you should hire a graphic designer to help you boost one of the most important parts of your business — your brand — I don’t want you to lose any sleep, now or in the future. That’s why I’ve put together a quick-and-dirty guide with three questions to consider before you hire a designer:

1. Am I committed to my business and ready to create new energy in my product or branding?

First thing’s first: you need to make sure you’re ready to invest. Embarking upon a project that involves revamping your branding or creating a sub-brand around a new product or service will require both an investment of money as well as time.

Understanding how a branding revamp or new product/service will affect your business will help you decide whether it’s something you can truly commit to. For a successful relationship with a designer and outcomes that exceed your expectations, unwavering commitment is key.

2. Where would I like this new product or branding revamp to take my business?

In order to understand how it will affect your business, it’s important that you have a clear idea on the direction you’re going with your product or branding. Consider the goal for the project(s): are you trying to achieve greater awareness? Increased sales? A more unified presence among all of your products or services? Something entirely different?

Then, consider whether or not your current branding can achieve those goals, or if a fresh start is required. If it’s something that your current brand can achieve, then you can stop here and put it to work. If not, you’re one step closer in preparing to work with a designer by having your direction and goals mapped out. Which brings us to perhaps the biggest question of all…

3. Am I comfortable and confident that I want to work with a designer?

As mentioned, there are certain aspects of your design and branding that you can achieve on a DIY-basis — especially if you’ve had a designer create a brand identity for you in the past. (In fact, I’ve created a mini-workbook to get you started in evaluating your current brand – download it today!) That being said, if the design required isn’t something that’s already in your wheelhouse and doesn’t fit the skills or schedule of anyone on your internal staff, it’s time to get comfortable with the idea of bringing in the outside help of a graphic designer.

A good designer will share your philosophy on how branding influences your business; they’ll understand your company’s story and be able to incorporate that into design; and they’ll exercise both their expertise as well as take your feedback into account when creating design elements that meet your needs.

Decision made? Go for it!

If all the questions you’ve candidly answered above have led you to the conclusion that hiring a designer is indeed what your business needs, my biggest piece of advice is this: GO FOR IT! Make the commitment, and your designer will take it from there. Remember — your brand is your business’ first impression. Making the decision to invest in a designer you’re confident working with will reward you with a stronger brand to support your business, products, and services.