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Oban Jones, designer and illustrator

Oban Jones, designer and illustrator

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Who are you:

My name is Oban Jones, and I’m a designer and illustrator from Chester, UK.

Your current job:

I’m the Lead Designer at Ellusionist Playing Card Company. I also enjoy taking on small projects in my spare time, mainly as I feel it helps my illustration grow and develop.

In which city are you located?

Currently, Toronto, Canada, previously Oxford, UK and next is Manchester, UK. I’ve had a hard time settling in once place for very long but as I’m getting on a bit (according to my wife) I think this next move might me more permanent.

A word to define what kind of worker you are:


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

Adobe Creative Suite, mainly illustrator. My iPad Pro, Wacom tablet and coffee cup are also essential to my creating.

What does your office space look like?

I work from home in my open plan apartment so I spend around four hours sat at my usually messy desk, finding inspiration from the views of Lake Ontario. The rest of the day I go to my local coffee shop and plow few a good few refills of pale roast.

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

Alternative electronica.

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

I try to get emails, invoicing and other nitty gritty stuff sorted in the first hour of the day so I can then focus creatively without interruption. It doesn’t always work out that way, urgent things pop up, but it at least gives me a head start.

What tips would you give to improve productivity?

I know I have a tendency to get creative tunnel vision and spend way too long on one thing. I start each day with a list and use that to set alarms on my phone. Working from home, time can easily become meaningless. I now use alarms to remind myself to get a drink or eat lunch so I don’t just work 10 hours straight, stand up and near pass out.

You’re better than your colleagues to:

Push the boundaries. I’m not afraid to try something to see if it works and doesn’t see rejection as a failure but as development and an opportunity to learn.

What is the best advice anyone has given you?

Find the balance between loving your job and just paying the bills. Creatives have a tendency to want everything they do to be their favorite project ever, and when you have the luxury of enjoying the process that yields your income you can get easily disgruntled by work you don’t enjoy. I have to remind myself that in most jobs there are good days and bad days and I am fortunate to mostly love the work I do. I was told at my first design internship to be patient; that the longer you do this the more likely you are to be in the position to choose projects you enjoy. That has definitely rung true for me.

What is your best tip for saving time?

If I’m pressed for time on a project I will go to a coffee shop with the intention of finishing it. Finding a new space to work from focusses my mind and really helps me plow through undistracted.

What is your routine start and end of the day?

I always start with a quick instant coffee and a good breakfast. I can’t concentrate on an empty stomach, and if I get calls it might be a while before I can break again for food so I make sure I’m fuelled up for the day. If I’m in a really hyper mood I’ll get sent to the gym so I don’t drive my wife up the wall.

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

My Wacom tablet. It’s five years old and barely functioning so needs replacing soon, but I use it every single day and love it dearly.