Interview: Liv from Three29design
Hi Liv how are you?
Hey Rich, I’m just getting back to work after some time off recovering from an Op. Honoured to be chosen by you for this interview!
You have been running your own business for over a decade now and have a really strong and impressive portfolio behind you. What are some of your favourite projects you have worked on?
Thanks! Where does time go? It’s mind boggling to think my little business has lasted this long. My favourite projects tend to be those for the music industry. The most recent one I really enjoyed working on was for a client named Teez over in Reno, NV who I first worked with over ten years ago. He signed a deal and I worked on his R.E.N.O album art, merch and promotional material. He kindly told his label to hold their designers as he wanted to work with me - made my week when he mentioned that!
There are a lot of different aspects to running a creative business. What does your average work day/week look like?
I work on several projects and go from one to another each day. I think this can really be mentally tiring to do but it’s how I’ve always worked.
As a rough idea I probably spend ~1.5hr on emails or general correspondence spread throughout the day. I prefer using Trello for this, email threads are messy and the inbox is off-putting in general. Then I tend to do ~4-5 hrs of solid work, split up as needed for different projects. I probably take 20 minutes for lunch and then do around 30 mins admin a day. Don’t forget the “five minute” jobs which really add up and staring into space for a good 20 minutes. On Mondays I tend to spend more time on the accounts and chasing up invoices.
When I finish work I tend to leave it as that, I don’t usually stay on longer for personal work because I don’t want to be in front of the computer any more.
Are there certain times of the day where you find you are more productive?
Yeah, late afternoons and evenings. I used to be a night owl, even working on US time at one point but I’ll be honest, when you live with someone it’s hard to keep that up because you’d never have any time together. I try to keep things around a 10-6 these days.
Freelancing can be all consuming, how do you keep a healthy work/life balance?
I can be quite bad at this if I’m honest but I’ve improved over the years. I don't work on weekends, that’s my time and as I mentioned previously I try not to work past 6pm. This is unless I’m getting a rush fee and I’m happy to do so i.e. have nothing better to do.
I also make sure I go to my personal training once a week which makes me finish a little earlier and my trainer has often said “this is your time now!”. If I don’t go I let her down which I don’t want to do; to me it’s so much better than a gym membership. I try to do another hobby one night a week so that may be heading to the range, getting on my motorbike or the cinema.
I’m usually out and about for a solid amount of time at the weekend, recently I’ve been making sure I’m out even on the grimmest of days; even though I feel awful at 6:30am and can’t feel my hands for the rest of the day, I always have a great time and have a reason to be knackered.
This is obviously client dependent but if you have the choice do you try and keep up with the latest design trends or do you focus on the style you want to create?
If I had the choice I'd rather be given a brief and be let loose on it with what feels right but it seems like less and less clients are willing to take risks in that sense.
I try to avoid those “Design Trends of 2020” posts but you will always get requests from clients for specific looks which are considered hot at the moment. It’s inevitable, I’m sure we’ve all been there for bread and butter work. Sometimes it’s not worth the fight.
There has been a lot of talk within freelancing about the rise in requests for free work and working for exposure. Is this something you have experienced? What are your thoughts on the state of the graphic design industry compared to ten years ago?
Oh yeah, for sure. For a start, I began on MySpace back in its golden years. I was 15/16 and had absolutely no idea this was a job so I did things for free because it was FUN. This eventually led to people asking about how much certain things are and that was the birth of my business. I actually made some great connections that I respect immensely and still work with several clients from the early years. My skills and business has grown since then and, so have theirs and their own requirements. Some of them are on hyperdrive actually, so great to see!
I get a lot fewer requests to work for free now than I used to which may be due to most my work coming from referrals and working less in the music industry as that side was bad for it. But I see sooooo many on Twitter from people in the creative fields, it’s nuts. I can’t even get a plumber here without a callout charge and they want hours and hours of work for nothing because they feel entitled to it due to it being in the arts.
There are exceptions where it’s something I am personally connected to and I choose to put back into it because I want to help and see it or them do well. I’ve also helped charities in the past when it was possible time wise. If a friend asks for help and it’s more of a technical skill I really like to say that I won’t do it for them but if they set aside time which works for both of us I’ll teach them how to do it.
Creative people are always looking for improvement in their own work but how do you think the creative industries could be improved?
Something that hits both the creative industries as a whole and self improvement is that maybe we are our own worst enemies in the community. We seem to have lost the ability not only to provide good critique, but also to take it. With social media there’s this mass public criticism and shaming anyone can jump in on which can often get nasty. Do we miss the days of the more private creative forums where you put on a thick jumper and people took the time to critique in more than 280 characters? I do.
Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed Liv! One last question: I know you like your gaming, what are your top 5 video games of all time?
My pleasure. Oooooh...!
Halo: Combat Evolved
What a game! I remember playing this one with my friends sat next to me (miss that!) and when the Flood appeared... ohhh my goddddd.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
I have a soft spot for Sam Fisher, the games are great even though they’re so hard. I had a great time online with this one on the multiplayer!
Fallout: New Vegas
It’s clunky and horrible with huge scorpions running after you in the desert but I love this game.
The old school civilisation game. My dad got it for me when I was probably around 10? I hacked it to work on my Mac and still play it now.
Another one for the memories! I had some great times with my friends getting together in the front room, running around maps only using knives or rocket launchers, especially on Rust.
You can find Liv's portfolio and blog at http://www.three29design.com/
Interview by Rich Banks
Edited by MJ Cook