What the Morning Routines of 3 Millennial Designers Look Like
We’ve meet the ambitious and savvy bosses of media, publishing and fashion, and now our #IAmaBoss series is venturing into the exciting world of design. From the moment these impressive ladies wake up, they’re tackling new and innovative ways to bring creativity and ease to their projects. Whether they’re promoting up-and-coming designers, creating tools for experienced designers or teaching future designers, these women are all about contributing and supporting the incredible field of design. Scroll on to read their productivity tips, morning routines and more!
Joanna Berzowska: Joanna is Associate Professor and Chair of the Design and Computation Arts Department at Concordia University, as well as the founder and research director of XS Labs, a design research studio with a focus on innovation in the fields of electronic textiles and reactive garments. Berzowska is also the Head of Electronic Textiles at OMsignal, a wearable and smart textile platform that enables leading fashion brands to design smart apparel. Joanna’s art and design work has been shown in the V&A in London, the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum in NYC, the Millennium Museum in Beijing, the Art Directors Club in NYC, the Australian Museum in Sydney, NTT ICC in Tokyo, SIGGRAPH, ISEA, SIGCHI and Ars Electronica Center in Linz, among others. She lectures internationally about the field of electronic textiles and related social, cultural, aesthetic and political issues.
Jannie Lai: Jannie is the head of user experience for Light, which is bringing the highest-quality photography to the smallest possible devices. Prior to Light, Jannie was the director of product design at Citrix, where she was responsible for the design and product experience of Citrix’s mobile consumer business apps. Previously, she held similar design roles at LiveOps, eBay and Oracle and has issued over five patents since the start of her career. She studied industrial design at California College of the Arts and received an engineering degree from the University of Michigan.
Allison Stuart: A Louisiana native, Alli moved to San Francisco in hopes of landing a role as a graphic designer. She stumbled her way into a great job, becoming the first member of the Community Team at 99designs, a global marketplace that connects designers with people who need design. In the last five years, she has connected with passionate designers all over the globe. Helping grow the community to over a million designers, she now runs a team that focuses on educating and motivating designers to reach their fullest potential. She loves art and design, and wants to one day not only encourage designers from all backgrounds to grow, but children as well.
What is your morning routine?
Joanna: I wake up at 6am, put on my comfy yoga clothes and take my little furballs for a walk. I either have a green smoothie or a green juice. I feed the dogs (my husband and I cook our own dog food), prepare breakfast or sandwiches for my boys, quickly check the technology news (especially filtering for material science, smart textiles and wearables). I see my trainer at 7:30am (she lives in my building, which is super convenient), then shower and go to one of my three offices. I don’t check email until I get to the office. It took me 40 years to come up with this routine, and it’s an awesome way to start the day!
Jannie: Before getting out of bed, I check in with theSkimm and catch up on design-related news from Fast Co Design or Design Milk. If I haven’t checked email already, I usually do that too to make sure nothing popped up overnight that will change the course of the day. On the mornings that I have more time to exercise, I’ll go for a walk or do some sun salutations. After exercise, I hit the shower, where I think about the things I want to accomplish for the day. My thinking time is in the shower: It’s where I’m most creative.
Allison: I am not a morning person, so my routine is meticulously timed down to the second. The official plan starts the night before, when I pick out my clothes and pack my bag. The morning routine is about 15-20 minutes, depending on how my pillow-hair looks.
8:35am: Stretch, moan, stretch some more.
8:36am: Talk myself into getting out of my comfier-than-usual bed.
8:40am: My feet hit the floor, I open the shutters and turn off my box fan.
8:45am: Run into a wall with half-closed eyes, get dressed and brush teeth.
8:50am: Throw on makeup, fluff up the hair.
9:00am: Check bus schedule and run out of the house just in time.
What is the last app you downloaded?
Joanna: Good Fences, a geometry puzzle game developed by a colleague of mine who is a professor at Waterloo University. It’s really hard.
Jannie: 500px. I started as one of their beta users, and it is nice to finally see how the community is responding to the new app. I recently browsed through the new interface and the app seems to be more socially oriented than before. I love the interaction I have with the photographers I’m following within the app.
Allison: I recently downloaded Duolingo in hopes of learning Spanish. My husband and I go through lessons right before bed… hasta ahora, todo bien.
What are your productivity tips?
Joanna: Every morning when I wake up, I ask myself, “What task is causing me the most anxiety?” Sometimes it’s an easy answer, since it’s been keeping me up all night, but sometimes I need to think deeply. My strategy is to start the day by tackling the thing that generates the greatest stress. After having completed the most stressful task of the day, I get a huge burst of energy and my creativity and productivity soars!
Jannie: While driving, I lean on Siri to help me send quick notes, respond to emails or jot down thoughts for myself. As a designer, I believe to stay productive, you must remain creative and reserve time to unwind, recharge or get inspired. In addition to Light, I try to always have a personal project that is not work related, say a painting project. Every three to six months, I take the time to think of the gigantic ideas, goals and dreams I want to accomplish. To make them real, I break them down into bite-sized, achievable tasks. It’s a thrill to look at a list at the end of the day and see things all crossed off.
1. Think REALLY big and creatively about whatever project you have to complete. Imagine the finished product — your finished book, your painting hanging on the wall, your clean laundry, whatever it is — let the finished product drive you. I often use big sheets of paper, markers, my weekly agenda or whatever is hands-on to get all of my thoughts out.
2. Then, break up the big project into really small, day-to-day tasks. Think of it as drip coffee: Every drip is crucial to make the full cup. I often take my brainstorming to the computer and use Evernote and Google Calendars to lay out the stages.
3. There are no rules! Whatever path you need to take to complete your job or project is fair game. Most people who complete things in unconventional ways are the most likely to innovate.
Tell us about one maker who you admire.
Joanna: Stefan Sagmeister. I love the way his design practice integrates physical materials, the environment and the human body.
Jannie: Geeky Hooker. She’s the kind of hooker who uses a crotchet hook to create geeky characters called Critters. I love the designer’s artistry, personality and perspective. Even better, she doesn’t make these critters for profit — she puts them in the community in hopes that people will find them.
Allison: This may sound obvious since I’m the head of Community Marketing at 99designs, but I truly admire the design makers I chat with every single day. I’ve worked at 99designs for five years and have met some talented creatives around the world, like the incredible designer Giulio Rossi from Italy, who won Bon Ivor’s tattoo contest and was featured in Rolling Stone. This year, we’ve set up weekly Skype-dates with our top designers, and the stuff I see them produce, even outside of graphic design, is truly amazing and inspiring.
I wish someone had told me _______ when I graduated from college.
Joanna: I wish I had listened to the people who had told me to really take good care of myself, to focus on good diet and exercise. When you are in your twenties, you feel invincible and pull too many all-nighters, eating crappy food and skipping exercise. When I graduated from the MIT Media Lab, I worked at my computer almost 18 hours per day. I kept it up for ten years. My body definitely suffered. It’s definitely one of the reasons I am so passionate about my work at OMsignal. The idea of having garments, seamlessly integrated into my everyday routine, which help me stay in touch with my body and keep track of my well-being, is truly invaluable!
Jannie: Don’t be shy about putting your foot in the door. It took me way too long for me to learn to verbalize what I want and share my goals with others.
Allison: I got some strange advice when I graduated from college, but now I completely understand all of it. There are a couple of things I was NOT told that I’m glad I realized sooner rather than later:
1. Be open to opportunities you didn’t plan for. I strongly suggest you pick your first job based on liking the day-to-day role and company culture. Don’t pick a job based on pay alone or just because you graduated in it. Trust me.
2. Always ask for a promotion or anything else you’ve worked hard to deserve. Be prepared with exact reasons on why you deserve a million dollars, and even if you feel your heart racing like the Tell Tale Heart, ALWAYS ask.
Does their advice resonate with you? Know a #girlboss we should interview? Send an email to email@example.com and she could appear in the next column!
Artist Dev Heyrana On How Bravery, Resilience and Sunshine Influence Her Work
Ever meet someone who you feel immediate kinship with on a deep almost spiritual level? That is legit every person's experience upon meeting Dev Heyrana, the star of this edition of Creative Crushin'. A fine artist, hip hop dance teacher and constant collaborator, Dev's particular brand of creativity is one-of-a-kind. She manages to be warm, welcoming and woke, with a focus on inclusivity, social justice and motherhood that comes through in every piece of art she creates.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and one of many humans who has benefitted from Dev's boundless generosity and kindness. We first connected at a launch event, then I asked her if she and her family would like to model for a B+C shoot (they did!), then months later, I asked the IG universe if anyone would be down to co-parent with me for a day so I could speak at a conference. Dev said yes! And for those that know her, none of these serendipitous moments are surprising.
Now it's time to delve more into Dev's story, her creative inspiration, her thoughtful approach to parenting and what makes her more passionate than ever about bringing her point of view and artistic voice into the universe.
Anjelika Temple: First, foundations. Where did you grow up? What is your heritage? What did you study in school? Where do you live now?
Dev Heyrana: Born in The Philippines and immigrated to the U.S. when I was 9 years old. Me and my family are from the island of Cebu and I'm a proud Cebuana. My childhood in the Philippines felt like freedom. I had my swimsuit in my backpack for whenever we decided to swim and I biked everywhere.
Immigrating here at 9 yrs old was a transition, to say the least. My parents had big dreams but the move was heavy on them. It wasn't easy. I had to grow up fast. I took care of my sisters while my parents worked night shifts. By the age of 12 I would cook dinner and get my sisters ready for bed. Something I didn't realize was that kids my age didn't do those things until I got older. We would play these make-believe games to make, in hindsight, our hard situation brighter.
I think this is really when art played a big role in my life. It was something I could escape in and always felt healing.
I witnessed racism towards my family and didn't know how to make sense of it. These events left a mark. I was a quiet kid and observed everything and everyone around me. I think about my grandparents, Lolo Jose and Lola Rita, a lot as I walk through life. When I make decisions. As hard as it feels, you have two choices, do you let it take you down or take it one step at a time forward. I kept going and it really shaped me as to why I am the way I am today.
I studied Fine Arts at The Corcoran in DC. I owe that decision to my art teacher, Mr Giles, in High School. He was retiring and wore a Hawaiian shirt every day during my senior year. He was a curmudgeon and I felt incredibly special since out of everyone in the school he really believed in me. As grumpy as he seemed to the class, he would tell me things like "Go into the other studio and break some glass, then put it on a canvas." He's the reason why my abstract pieces have elements like clay and sand in them.
I've had incredible mentors and all were teachers. Mr. Giles in High School and Christine George in College. Christine was the one who told me to go either to New York or San Francisco because "D.C. is no place for an artist like you." She told me to not listen to anyone, how I can still paint, be a graphic designer, and, if I choose to, have a family. I've never had anyone tell me anything like that before.
I took a chance because of her. Moved and went to Design School in 2006 and I've stayed in the Bay Area ever since, raising two girls with the love of my life.
Anj: You are one of those magical human beings that has figured out how to be a full-time artist. What was your career path like before you were able to dive fully into your creative passions?
Dev: The most radical thing I could have done in my family, I did, I went to college for Fine Arts. A mix of being so young and having to do it on my own, I went with the school that gave me more scholarships. Even then I worked three jobs to be able to get through it. Hard work is ingrained in me.
With my sculpture background, I fell in love with Print and Packaging and why I came out here to San Francisco. I appreciated the security of having a career in Graphic Design. I also learned how to work with clients and the business side of things. Even then, I never stopped painting.
A few years ago I went through a pretty hard time with my health. I dealt with six surgeries in one year and I still have to do some follow-up ones. That experience almost broke me and what got me through was my family and painting in bed while I recovered.
When I finally got back on my feet, my heart just wasn't in Graphic Design anymore. So I made a two year plan. With a toddler and a mortgage, I wanted to make sure my steps were thought out. I put myself out there as an Artist while I still worked in Design. After a year I worked part time as a Graphic Designer and stepped down from my Creative Director position. I loved it, to be creative as an Artist and as a Designer. I looked at 2018 as my year to make the jump. If my work as an Artist balances out with my salary then I would quit in the Summer of 2019. And so here we are. I also am sharing a studio with my good friend, Naomi PQ, and I feel like my creative drive is just beginning.
Anj: What do you love about painting? How do you feel when you're in a creative flow state?
Dev: Like every part of me is free. Free to express myself through the stroke of my hand. How all of it leads back to my heart. These elements I use to paint have a mind of their own and how I need to respect the process.
It centers me and reminds me that the process is just like the life we lead. I know I still have so much more to learn but while I'm painting no matter how it's going, I'll embrace this moment.
Anj: You reference your roots quite a bit in your work. Talk to me more about how your roots inspire your work.
Dev: One of my earliest memories is of my Lolo Jose teaching me how to water mango saplings. He converted to Buddhism when my mother was young, so he viewed the world with love and kindness. I didn't realize it then but watering those mango trees were life lessons. We need to take the time to nurture, practice patience, and respect all living things. I still imagine him walking beside me often, carrying his teachings as I find my way in this world.
Nature and the Sun drive my pieces. My abstract works are fragments of moments. Like the sunset I grew up with when I was seven years old in the Philippines, like how I saw the water in Cebu when I dove in as a young adult, and like when I saw the redwoods with my children for the first time.
I see earth in our skin and especially when I paint people. How our mango trees grew and blossomed because the dark earth was rich with nutrients. I imagine the Sun piercing through these women I depict. I paint their love and bravery because their resilience cannot be contained. I want to celebrate all of it.
This is the beauty of Art, I am able to paint exactly how I see it.
Anj: Motherhood and your daughters are also central themes in your work. How has motherhood changed your approach to creating artwork?
Dev: Everything. I was still deep in my Design Career and I would paint at home. One day Quinn, who was 3 years old at the time introduced me at the park to a mom. "This is my mom, she's an Artist." It struck me that my toddler knew who I was more than I knew myself. That's really when I really owned it. I am more fearless because of my girls.
I own my body, I thank people when they compliment me, and I am selective but fearless when I use my voice. I am more in tune how I speak about myself because of them. When I paint these women I want to celebrate them. I notice how I embrace myself is translated in my paintings.
Anj: What advice can you give to parents who are trying to tap into their kiddos' innate creativity?
Dev: I don't have a lot of guidelines set up. I'll say "Let's draw the biggest fish we can draw" or "how many silly lines can we make" and I let them lead me. They ask me questions, show me things, and I sit there with my coffee watching their eyes wide with excitement. Watching them in their creative process is pure joy for me. Those silly lines can turn into a dragon or waves and next thing we know, we're drawing a big beach scene. My advice would be that you can suggest something to start it off but be open to how they take it. It is such a beautiful window into their minds.
Anj: Shifting gears to HIP HOP DANCE! Talk to us about his component of your creative expression.
Dev: I loved the Hip Hop scene in DC and discovered how much fun the clubs were in college. My friends told me about this Hip Hop Crew I should try out for, I was so scared because I've never taken a dance class in my life. I got in and it was like having another family. We competed all over the East Coast, it was a blast!
I found hipline when I started my first Design Job and needed an outlet. It was exactly what I needed and one of the owners asked if I was interested to teach. I've been teaching there since 2009 and am still going strong. It's a wonderful community of women. Now we're virtual and reaching clients all over.
Anj: What does a typical [pandemic] day look like for you? How does it differ from your rhythm before COVID?
Dev: I've been practicing being kinder to myself lately. Both me and my husband work full time and so having the girls at home is a challenge. Some days we are amazed by how smooth it went and then there are others where if the girls are clean and bellies are full, it's a total win.
Now that we're on month 8 our rhythm before covid felt more chaotic to be honest. I felt like we were always rushing out the door while carrying so many bags. Now my husband and I try to have coffee together, if he has a break from his meeting, and we sit with Quinn before school to see what she has to do for the day. Rowan's preschool closed down but we were able to find a wonderful speech therapist for her and she has an Adventure Pod we go to two times a week.
The one thing we really try to do is go outside once a day. Have some magic in their childhood no matter how small. It could be just going up for a hike by our home and picking up leaves, riding our bikes, or watching the sunset from our window. Seeing how the girls' react to these adventures we have is pure magic.
Anj: When you get creatively blocked or burnt out, how do you reset? Do you have tips you can share?
Dev: I go outside. I go out for a hike or go to the beach. Even if it's 15 minutes, something about grounding yourself in Nature is really healing. I also do exercise where I doodle for two minutes because it feels doable. Judgment-free doodles, always opens the doorway to more.
Anj: I know firsthand that community-building is huge for you. Tell us more about what your support system and creative community looks like.
Dev: I feel a lot of love and strength when I think of my community. My relationship with my sister led the way what women supporting women looks like. It's listening, asking questions, remembering, cheering for all the wins, being there even if it's hard, and taking time to invest in them. The way me and my sister show up for each other is why I have these amazing women in my life. I can talk to them about my family, motherhood, and we're all trying to balance it all while sharing my most recent project. I feel really blessed especially looking back in my college years where I don't know where Art would take me.
Anj: When you need to give yourself a pep talk, what does it sound like?
Dev: I usually take a deep breath then say or think "One step forward". Most of the time, I'm scared (as shit) but the thought of not trying scares me more. That one step forward can be hard as hell and maybe even heartbreaking, but I have to try.