2018: Year in Review
This year was the first full year of Natasia Designs being open for business!
2018 has been marked by growth, both personally and professionally, with so many fun projects and lessons learned along the way. As the year comes to a close, I want to share with you some of my reflections on the year, personal highlights, and a sneak peek of what’s to come in 2019!
2018 Highlights and Reflections
It’s inspiring and motivating to connect with like-minded people. 2018 presented many opportunities to do just that, from attending the AGM for the Graphic Designers of Canada in Vancouver, to meeting new friends though the online design community, to meeting some of my favourite designers.
There were many times in 2018 when my skills and abilities as a freelance designer and business owner were put to the test. My previous agency experience gave me so many great opportunities to work on a wide variety of projects, but approaching similar projects as a freelancer is completely different. At an agency, you’re part of a team who tackles a project collectively and collaboratively. As a freelancer, you ARE the team, acting as project manager while also contributing to some or all of the project. This year, I designed a magazine for the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. I produced the brand, masthead, illustrations and layout for the 48-page magazine, and provided the art direction and creative direction for other contributors. It was a big step out of my comfort zone to tackle this project as a freelance designer instead of as an agency member, but I loved the challenge and I am incredibly proud of the outcome!
Another big highlight from the year was witnessing growth in others! I feel I grew along with my clients as we collaborated to make their projects come to life. I was also lucky to teach as a sessional instructor in the Design Studies program at MacEwan University. Although it was my second term teaching, I learned along with my students and it was really exciting to be a part of their journey to become designers!
Hired a Barketing Manager
The Natasia Designs team grew by one ‘official’ team member: Maggie, our new Barketing Manager! Her duties include midday napping, eating sticks, reminding the boss to take breaks by
demanding requesting pets, slapping my phone out of my hand if I look at it while petting her, and other duties as required. She has not been the most productive employee, but she certainly boosts office morale and has a bright future with Natasia Designs!
Here are some snips of my other favourite projects from the year:
2018 Lessons Learned
The excitement of new projects, building my professional network, and teaching the next generation of designers came with a cost. When your career choice is so closely tied to your identity, it’s easy for the line to blur and to trick yourself into believing that your projects are as important as your well-being. It’s also easy to convince yourself that you can handle it because you love what you do.
But mid-year, I realized burnout was a real thing no matter how much I love my business and clients. Upon wrapping up at MacEwan in May, I realized I had a huge backlog of work. It was really hard to focus on projects because I was so overwhelmed. I reached out to the ATB Entrepreneur Centre, where they recommended I hire a part-time design intern. Taking their advice was certainly a bright side to my burnout. My part-time designer was a lifesaver, and I also connected with some amazing people by contracting out some design projects.
I also started to decline new projects. Learning to say no was really difficult for me to do this year, but the tipping point came when I missed Easter with my family in order to mark projects and work. I realized I had to figure out what mattered most and start saying no to things in order to make room for “yes” things, such as personal time and projects that excite me.
What’s to come in 2019
Experiencing burnout forced me to take a hard look at my business. I reviewed my business structure and discovered gaps and inefficiencies in my process that complicate things for both me and my clients. As a result, I’m working on an overhaul of my policies and practices to make life easier for me, my clients, and everyone involved in a project (except Maggie—she already has it pretty easy).
Stay tuned for what’s to come in the New Year! In the meantime, the best way to stay connected with me is through Instagram. You can also check out my Pinterest to see what’s inspiring me lately, or reach out via email to share your thoughts!