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Office tale of Nicole Mannell, junior graphic designer

Office tale of Nicole Mannell, junior graphic designer

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Your current job:

Currently I work as a junior graphic designer for Fiber Design, the design division of Community agency in Toronto. This fall I will be entering my fourth year as a student in the joint program between York University and Sheridan College, (YSDN) working towards my bachelors in graphic design.

In which city are you located?

I grew up in a small town called Ingersoll, close to London Ontario but now live and work in Toronto.

A word to define what kind of worker you are:


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

I could not live without my mac book, sketchbook or Canon Rebel XSI.

These things are basically attached to me at all times, the latter two especially when traveling. As for programs, Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator are pretty much a must.

What does your office space look like?

Well, being a student I mostly work from home. Although things can get pretty crazy in the middle of a project I keep my space very organized and free of clutter. I find that a relaxing atmosphere is conducive to better work, and keeping the outside world organized makes it easier to channel my thoughts. I keep myself surrounded by things that inspire me: pictures, objects I’ve collected on my travels and works that inspire me.

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

It depends on the project, but I generally like to work to music that has little to no words or is on the softer side. I especially enjoy full piano or cello music. Some artists I like to listen to when working are Iron and Wine or Mumford and Sons.

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

I am a lists person. Whether that sounds boring to you or not I find them extremely helpful. When I know I have a lot to get done in a certain period of time I try to organize how much I think I can get done in a day and try to follow that. I don’t always meet those goals- as with any creative field design often takes much longer than initially anticipated- but it helps to set a general idea.

What tips would you give to improve productivity ?

I would say my best advice would be to organize the space around you, get a clear picture of the amount of work you have to do and then set realistic goals to accomplish it. I don’t believe in half-assing work. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to give it my best, so I need to be realistic about the amount of time it will take.

What is the best advice anyone has given you ?

I have an anxious sort of personality- I am very driven and perfectionistic, leading me to be quite hard on myself, especially about my work in the arts. I think the best advice I have gotten is to know when to give myself a break- literally and emotionally. By literally I mean to let myself take time off from a project, get up from the computer and get something to eat or go for a walk. Emotionally is a bit more difficult. Although I always want to strive for my best, I have learned it’s important to recognize that you aren’t always going to have the time or energy or creative power to get there. Learning to be ok when you know something isn’t quite your best but you have tried as hard as you can to get there is one of the hardest things I’ve tried to do. I’m still working on it.

What is your best tip for saving time ?

Ask questions. If you think someone may know a better or easier way to do something, (I’m talking software or hardware), ask them! The worst feeling is doing something for a project that took forever and then finding out there’s a much easier way to do it. There’s a million ways to do anything, don’t get stuck in the first one you learn.

What is your routine start and end of the day ?

Really it changes depending on the time of year, right now I’m working a 9-5 job, but during the school year I have class, do freelance and work a part time midnights job on weekends from 11pm to 7am, so I have to be pretty flexible.

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

I would not want to go without my DSLR camera, a Canon Rebel XSI. It may not be the newest, flashiest or most high tech camera, but it has been with me on countless adventures: from swimming with polar bears in Northern Canada to the beaches of Greece, cathedrals of England and the markets of Ukraine.