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Ways We Work

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Diane Gibbs

Graphic Designer and Professor of Graphic Design

What do you do?

I am a graphic designer, I also teach graphic design at the University of South Alabama, and I have a weekly web show for designers called The Design Recharge Show.

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

I follow Social Media Examiner, Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Derek Halpern, Amy Porterfield to stay up with business and social media trends.

I read HOW magazine and Communication Arts Magazine to stay up on trends in Graphic Design as well as read Graphic Design Blender. I also regularly use I go to the Creative South Conference in April.

I read Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine and follow Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, Claudine Hellmuth, and Jane Houghton among others.

What are your top five applications or programs?

Adobe Indesign, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Instagram, My Price App

Best way to stay on top of email?

Do it early and often. I take my phone with me everywhere and I use the time waiting in line or even in the bathroom to go through emails and respond to quick ones using my phone.

What is your best time-saving trick?

Have a list, stay focused. I have ADD and it is easy for me to get off track. I have used timers set for 50 min blocks and work on certain tasks during those times. Then I break and walk my dog if I am home or walk around if I am in another location.

Favourite productivity tool?

Freshbooks helps me to NOT worry about my billing and keeping track of my time. I can track my time for each client and use it to track different projects I am working on. It also helps me give better estimates on projects for future clients.

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

Sketch book and various writing utensils I carry with me everywhere I go.

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

I start out each day with a few emails then dive into the top thing on my list. I have a general idea of how long things take and I work on projects that are quick in the morning and dig deep into harder or more complicated projects after lunch. If I have to leave my home office for a meeting, I try and schedule them throughout the day and catch up on email in-between. I try and schedule all my meetings on the same day so I have concentrated work time on days when I can stay in the office. I usually have meetings three days a week and take two days to only work in the office. I get all my regular errands done on my meeting days as well so when I am home working I do not have to leave.

Another tip is during meetings I do minor revisions in front of the client. It saves a TON of time by avoiding emails back and forth to get minor changes approved. Instead I get them approved while we are together and then send them a final revised version to look over in more detail.

What does your workspace look like?

I work outside of my home office or University office on many days. The beauty of being a graphic designer is that it doesn’t require a lot of equipment. I do have a lot of books but do my research in my home office. I have a table where I put my computer and do the majority of my work. I also have a drafting table that is at a standing height and I do all my sketching and drawing over there. It is a big work surface and I have all my art supplies at hand. A few years ago I bought an old card catalog cabinet from and I use those many drawers to organize my art supplies.

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

Ben Jenkins from One Fast Buffalo Mike Jones one of the founders of Creative South Conference, Allan Peters who is the art director at Target, Danielle Evans who creates typography designs out of food.