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Nate Tilghman, freelance designer and branding agent

Nate Tilghman, freelance designer and branding agent

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Who are you: 

Nate Tilghman

Your current job: 

Freelance Designer and Branding agent 

In which city are you located? 

Perth Australia

A word to define what kind of worker you are: 


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

Adobe Creative Suite, Pen, Paper, Brush, and Plants in the Studio

What does your office space look like? 

Converted 1 bedroom studio. I kind of hate the idea of working where you sleep, but it gives me the flexibility to strike while the irons hot.

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

It totally depends on the mood and the level of thinking involved. I like to pair the work I’m doing with the style of music. If it’s something minimalist, ill play some soft lounge, or some jazz/funk fusion. If it’s something really energetic and fun, it’ll be a couple future cut or some hyphy-ironic mumble stuff. Mostly, however, it’s some experimental hip hop sounds like knowledge or mndsgn. I feel experimental music really transcends when designing; it puts you in the right mind state to be creative.

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

I try and stick to a schedule at the home studio. It starts with a run, followed by breakfast, coffee, some more coffee, and the latest issue of some sort of magazine. Then I try and ease myself into work by 9; usually by throwing on a few records and creating a daily agenda. 

What tips would you give to improve productivity?

 Instead of hating that mind numbing design work we all have to do at some point; look at it as a reason why you’re doing it. Would you rather be sitting in a cubicle crunching someone else’s numbers? Or mowing lawns? Or would you rather be making cool sh*t. It’s a great reality check to realize that what you do is chill as f*ck, and you’re getting paid for it. If it means taking on a shitty job from time to time, so be it. Throw on some yawn zen and just chill.

You’re better than your colleagues to: 

every time I freelance for a different studio, I always feel like I’ve got something to prove; and they’re usually better and more experienced than me. So I’d like to say I’m not better than my colleagues, but that’s the best motivator. It pushes me (and stresses me) to continue to try and make gnarly shit and wow the pants off me (not literally of course)

What is the best advice anyone has given you? 

Leave your comfort zone. You can’t improve as a successful designer if you don’t. Some designers have their lane and stay there, but it’s really limiting. How can you be creative if you keep doing the same stuff? Push yourself to take on projects that aren’t your greatest strength, and it will push you as a designer. You’ll learn new techniques which you can incorporate back into your main line. If you do super masculine work, take on that job with a more feminine aesthetic. If your print based, try that web job someones been nagging you about. It’s all for the better.

What is your best tip for saving time? 

using it to serve a purpose. Other than that, take time off. Get away from the desk. Take a real lunch break. Go for a walk. Getting your eyes off a design is the best way to come back more critically and efficient. It sounds a bit anti-productive and totally cliche, but taking time off will save time in the long run. 

What is your routine start and end of the day? 

As I said before, it all starts with a run, getting the blood flowing. Without it I can’t sit and relax, I need that expulsion of energy early in the morning to be able to stand sitting at a desk all day. At the end of the day, ill clean the studio mess I’ve made, and just put on some headphones and go for a walk. It totally allows you to switch off and reflect on the day, and think of nothing but being in the moment. It’s like meditation to the psyche.

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

 Lately while freelancing t other studios, I can’t survive the public transport trips without that Nintendo 3ds. Playing donkey kong country 3 for half an hour before you arrive to work is much better than sitting in traffic.

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