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Ways We Work

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Andrew Kolb

Illustrator and college instructor

Andrew Kolb is an illustrator and teacher hailing from Ontario, Canada. He's worked on super cool projects with super cool people in industries ranging from animation studios to tech start ups. His first picture book, Edmund Unravels, is available for pre-order wherever books are sold. He also wrote this.

What do you do?

Almost all of what I do revolves around illustration. Either I'm creating an image as a freelance illustrator, or I'm teaching illustration into the Graphic Design program at Conestoga College. I draw, and think about drawing, a lot.

How do you stay up to date with trends in your industry/field?

Perhaps "the Internet" is too vague but it's an all-encompassing truth. Twitter and Tumblr are two channels that have directly connected me with all spokes of the industry wheel. Plus all the cool buzz words come from social media.

What are your top five applications or programs?

I'll lump the entire Adobe Creative Suite (I'm running CS5.5) into one but the subset of that is Photoshop (for drawing), InDesign (for paperwork), Dreamweaver (for my website), and Illustrator (for the occasional project).

Outside of the Adobe products, I use TeuxDeux to keep me organized and I love it to bits. Excel also sneaks its way into my life as I have to track all of my freelance/accounting/boring grown-up stuff (but it's the only way I get to keep on with the fun drawing stuff). Oh I listen to sooooooo many podcasts and thus the podcast app on my phone is vital. As for number 5, I like to keep up with the various blogs I follow (outside of Tumblr and Twitter) with Feedly as an RSS aggregator.

Best way to stay on top of email?

Well this isn't a steadfast system but I generally try to only check email at the beginning of the day, after lunch, and at the end of the day (for 30, 30, and 15 minutes respectively). I also turned off the push notifications on my phone's email so that they don't randomly pop up.

Aside from the (loose) schedule, the other part to my system is to reply right away. It means I usually get through less email during those blocks of time, but it also helps me avoid forgetting to respond. It's certainly not a perfect system, but it's working for me so far.

What is your best time-saving trick?

Turn off push notifications and schedule in time to check email, skim social media, look into the endless void of existence, etc.

One non-tech thing you can’t live without?

Oh I'm going to cheat and say "printed literature" so that I can get novels and comics under one umbrella. Yes I wiiiiiiiiiiiiin!

What does your workspace look like?

As my portfolio url and social media handle would suggest, I'm a pretty fastidious guy so I try to keep my workspace fairly tidy.

Structure of your typical day, how do you divide your time?

Hmm. Typical days in a freelance life are kinda tricky. Some days I'll spend twelve hours drawing (and those are awesome) but then some days I'll send one email while three more come in (completely destroying my email schedule). As organized as I am, I really can't plan for a typical day.

OH! Wait there are some elements of routine... 1. Wake up 2. Go for a run (unless it's raining...eff that noise) 3. Eat and bathe (not at the same time) 4. Morning of undetermined productivity 5. Lunch 6. Afternoon of undetermined productivity 7. Dinner

7a. Evening of undetermined productivity
7b. Socialize/read/watch cartoons

What is the greatest piece of career advice/wisdom you've ever received?

"Get back to work."

Who would you like to see featured on Ways We Work?

Does it have to be someone I know? I'll reject nepotism and say I'd be interested to know more about the owner of Carry On Comics (Andy Brast ) here in Waterloo.