Behind the scenes - what we doPosted on October 29, 2019 by Sarah Robertson
Yesterday we gave you an insight into who we are and why we run a graphic design company. And today we explore what we do – day-to-day and week-to-week – in the running of our creative business.
As owners of a small, collaborative company, we have to be so resourceful given our many responsibilities. While I manage the creative direction of projects and Jonathan oversees the design and development of websites and applications, the truth is that our days can often be taken up with tasks that are unrelated to these jobs!
Behind the scenes in our graphic design studio
My weeks are usually spent writing proposals for clients, meeting with them to discuss projects and coordinating creative tasks. But I also make space for non-design related activities. These including marketing the business, reviewing our accounts, having mentoring calls or joining in with online workshops. No two days are the same in the design world, and they’re certainly not the same when you run your own studio.
My focus is mainly on identity and print design projects, with the occasional dip into digital activities where they stem from a brand identity I’ve created. Jonathan, on the other hand, takes care of digital projects; creating websites, web apps and mobile apps, as well as overseeing any training needs and support contracts.
With the majority of client work, we aim to collaborate with freelancers and other companies, combining their abilities with our own and building the right team for each project. Be it a designer, developer, copywriter or photographer, we handpick people from a community of trusted creatives.
Routine is vital for us and having some kind of structure enables us to create the freedom we need as a couple and as a partnership.
Creating freedom and flexibility in our days
We each have our strengths and weaknesses, and over the years have found a way of working together that enables us to support each other. I’m a starter, often coming up with new ideas or trying new things, and I love the early stages of projects. Whereas Jonathan is very much a finisher, which is important in the later stages, and in terms of providing training and ongoing support.
Routine is vital for us and having some kind of structure enables us to create the freedom we need as a couple and as a partnership. But there is a flow to our working week where we can enjoy some flexibility, create our own hours, and meet in the middle. Each day we check-in with each other and tick certain things off our to-do lists to ensure we’re on top of the management of clients and projects and the business itself.
While we do work collaboratively, we tend to have our own projects and the process of choosing what we take the lead on often happens naturally depending on our experience and interests and whether it’s a new or existing client. But at all stages, we work as a team, running ideas by each other, finding interesting ways of stretching budgets and looking at how we can remove roadblocks and find solutions.
A week in the life of IfLooksCouldKill
Typically, we plan our weeks in advance, spending a Friday afternoon on project and business planning. We discuss priorities and establish where we are with each client before arranging any calls or meetings.
While we like to be as proactive as possible and plan ahead, it’s not unusual for us to need to react to the occasional tight deadline. For the most part, our working days are planned ahead, but very few design studios can avoid last-minute requests. It’s just the nature of the environment we work in, and if you have the right attitude the sense of urgency can be exciting.
We also carve out time to get in touch with any freelancers or companies we might be working alongside, arranging calls with them on Zoom, or communicating with them via Trello, to agree and track the tasks for the days and weeks ahead.
Not being afraid to challenge each other is perhaps the biggest benefit to working together.
The benefits of having a family-run business
I think the best thing about having a close-knit team is that we’re always able to sound-off on one another, giving us the opportunity to explore ideas at a fast pace. And the honesty with which we communicate in our business means we can (almost always) reach a conclusion quickly!
Not being afraid to challenge each other is perhaps the biggest benefit to working together. It’s not easy, and work can often filter into home life with the lines becoming blurred, but we make every effort to separate the two and make the most of our time as a family and as co-directors.
I hope that gives you an insight into the daily workings of the business and our roles at IfLooksCouldKill.
Next, we’ll be sharing how we work, the tools we use and our creative process. If you’d like to get posts like this straight to your inbox along with news from the studio, free resources and exclusive content, then head on over to subscribe to our email newsletter.