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Office tale of Jiani Lu, Graphic Designer / Photographer

Office tale of Jiani Lu, Graphic Designer / Photographer

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Who are you :

I’m a young graphic designer and photographer based in Toronto, Canada. I received my Bachelors in Design from York/Sheridan Program in Design, and have been working in the industry specializing in print design, branding and information design.

Your current job :

I’m currently a freelance graphic designer, photographer and avid traveler. My projects range from branding and brand management, to packaging, to editorial design.

In which city are you located:

I’m originally based in Toronto, however as a freelancer and frequent traveler, my location usually changes throughout the year. This month I’m working out of a cabin in the northern point of Newfoundland, an eastern Canadian island.

A word to define what kind of worker you are:


What tools are essential to your life (app, software, etc..)

I use various apps for managing my work, a few key ones I use: Toggl for tracking time, Dropbox, Evernote, Wunderlist for to-do lists, iCalendar, and Skype. And of course the Adobe Creative Cloud Apps, Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Indesign.

What does your office space look like?

My office space is always changing since I’m constantly relocating and working out of different cities in the world. Currently I have a simple setup in my cabin, using my laptop and an external monitor. 

What kind of music do you listen when you are working ?

It used to be a lot of electronica artists I followed on Soundcloud. I recently subscribed to Apple Music and now the playlists I listen to are much more diverse in genre – R&B, Hip-Hop, Soul, Alternative, Electronic, Rock, it’s a mix of things.

Do you have a way to organize your day to maximize your work ?

I try not to lock myself into answering emails first thing in the morning. It can be tempting to get these small mundane tasks out of the way, but I find mornings to be a much more precious time for doing creative work. I try to leave the no-brainer stuff like quick emails and forms for the end of the day. 

Setting a daily to-do list is also immensely helpful. It gives me goals to work towards and ensures I’m staying on top of schedule.

What tips would you give to improve productivity ?

Taking a short break every 1-2 hours of work actually helps improve my productivity. If I find myself stuck or feeling sluggish, I know it’s time to take a walk or make a cup of tea to give my brain a break. I tend come back to the task much more refreshed.

What is the best advice anyone has given you ?

Seek Discomfort. I came across the phrase during Stefan Sagmeister’s exhibit, The Happy Show. I now live by the quote, I think it’s important to be comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. To grow as a creative, often times it means consistently putting yourself in situations that are outside of what you already know and are familiar with. In order to explore, learn, and progress, you need to be prepared to experience discomfort temporarily in order to continually expand your comfort zone and ultimately reach your goals.

What is your best tip for saving time ?

Keeping my files, notes and emails organized by project helps save me a lot of time. It allows me to pull up files much quicker and shaves off minutes in my day.

What is your routine start and end of the day ?

I like to start my day sipping on tea and reviewing the tasks I need to do for the day. 

At the end of the day I take 5 minutes to plan out tomorrow’s tasks and schedule. I typically schedule things by the hour in my iCalendar and it’s conveniently synced across all my devices.

Aside from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not you go without?

My Canon 60D DSLR. Photography is often involved in my work, whether it’s for documenting portfolio pieces, doing photography projects, or generating Instagram content.