11 Questions With: Lauren Scarlett
Field Trip: Interview
I sent off 11 questions to designers in the early to mid stages of their careers, asking them a set of questions that help us get to know them a little bit. For this week’s article, I thought I would answer the questions myself (this was requested, i’m not that vain).
Q1. To start, could you tell us who you are and where you work?
I’m Lauren, writer of the Field Trip newsletter and Lead Designer at DESK. We’re a branding agency based on the south coast, where I now live.
Q2. Did you study design or are you self-taught? If you did study, how did you find it, do you think a degree is necessary these days?
I did study design, although somewhat unconventionally as I got my degree as a distance student, studying online. I’m glad I studied design as it gave me a starting point and provided early foundational knowledge but I wouldn’t be in a rush to recommend it. The major gains for me were learning how to work alone, manage myself and keep myself motivated, all of which helped massively when entering the industry in the middle of covid.
I’m also thankful for my degree, because disliking the course was what made me start my instagram account. I knew what kind of work I wanted to make so started designing fake branding projects, posters and playlists, which ultimately got me my job. I do in a sense feel very self-taught in terms of my actual design skills, and I’m very proud of the early ‘taste’ I developed as I felt unguided in that respect. I don’t think a degree is necessary at all, I believe it’s more about the amount of effort and commitment you put into practising and learning.
Q3. Is there anything you felt unprepared for going into work?
Working on many different projects at once was definitely a shock, now I can’t imagine it any another way. I love bouncing around multiple projects a day/week. As mentioned by the interviewees before me, figuring out the business/financial side of things was something that took some getting used to, but it becomes familiar quickly enough.
I was unprepared for the reality of working as a designer. There’s nothing else I’d rather do, but I was definitely naive in thinking I would only ever make work I love and I would push every project as far as it can go. The industry can look like a very shiny place online, and can set false standards by which we try to live up to. I didn’t understand that what we see on instagram is not an accurate depiction of the industry; its a polished version where restrictions don’t look like they exist. That’s not to say there isn’t great work being made because there is, it’s just worth being aware that its not all as amazing as it seems.
Q4. Do you work from home or go into the office? Do you like your situation or would you change it?
I have always worked from home so I have a love/hate relationship with it. I’m not a morning person so I love being able to ease into my day, avoid a commute and control my environment; being able to work from home is huge privilege so I’m grateful to have the option. I don’t think I’ll ever be someone who can regularly work from cafes etc, I know my desk is where my focus is. With that being said, working on my own all the time gets boring, it can feel lonely sometimes and my productivity and motivation levels fluctuate a lot. I would love to experience a studio environment so I could really immerse myself in work in a way that I haven’t had the chance to do yet. My ideal situation would probably be a hybrid studio/wfh set up.
Q5. How do you feel about freelancing/side projects, do you feel a pressure to do these?
Yes I do, but I’m the only one putting that pressure on myself. I constantly feel as if I’m not doing enough or not pushing myself to extent I know I’m capable of; because of this I feel a weird pressure to do freelance work/start profitable side projects, which really, comes from an insecure place of feeling like I need to constantly prove myself.
In a different light, side projects for fun are something I will always do. My genuine love for design drives the compulsive need to do it. Side projects also serve as a nice reminder that not everything needs to be monetised or have a grand purpose or be a life-changing idea. I love to see people exploring their passions in and outside of design, and just having fun.
Q6. What are you working on right now?
The majority of my free time goes into Field Trip. Writing takes time as does research, admin and designing assets for socials. I also spend a lot time, very unproductively, thinking about it.
Not so much work but as I talked about in my last article I moved out recently so I’m furnishing a place for the first time, which is fuelling me creatively in new ways. I’m paying attention to things i’ve never noticed before and learning a huge amount about spaces and furniture; so I’m working on being patient and intentional with the process.
Q7. Do you listen to music when you work? If so, what do you listen to? (very welcome to drop a playlist)
I do very few things in life without music so I of course listen to music when I work, which varies dramatically depending on my mood and what I’m working on. Generally I’ll listen to my favourite bands and artists, most of which are either from the early 2000’s post-punk revival scene or heavily inspired by that sound. I used to strictly listen to albums but find myself listening to playlists just as much these days. This is a playlist of indie bangers. I also love very chill music, I listen to this playlist a lot and this one. If I’m writing or reading, I’ll listen to movie soundtracks, Brian Eno’s ambient music or anything without lyrics so I can focus.
Q8. What have you been consuming lately?
Aside from listening to music 24/7, I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts lately, my favourites being:
It’s Nice That - favourite ep: Actual Source
Mouthwash - favourite ep: Creating Opportunities
The Modern House - favourite ep: Rosa Parks, Founding Editor of Cereal
I’ve started re-watching some episodes of Abstract: The Art of Design on Netflix and always have a steady rotation of books on the go.
Q9. What do you do in times when you don’t feel inspired or motivated?
When I don’t feel inspired or hit blocks with a design project, I stop looking at it. If what I’m doing feels forced, the outcome is not going to be good. I do all the classic motivators, go for a walks, disconnect etc. But I’m at a point now where I don’t worry about it too much, I know it will pass and I’ll eventually get back into it.
If I’m feeling generally uninspired or unmotivated in life, I have what I call ‘alignment sessions’ where I sit down, make lists and set myself a strict routine for the next few days. I find that doing as much as I can on autopilot, gives my brain the space it needs to feel positive and creative again. I also make a point to flood my brain with design; whether thats through shows, movies, podcasts, books etc. Feeling uninspired is often due to my own lack of effort; it’s a result of me not intentionally seeking good media and practicing good habits that I know help me.
Q10. Is there anyone you look up to or turn to for advice?
I’m the worst at asking for and accepting help so I rarely turn to people, which is a restricting quality and something I’m trying to change. But for general life things, I’ll call my parents for support. I’m also very lucky to have a great mentor/creative director to look up to and ask for advice.
Other than that, I’ve always relied on the knowledge of designers before me as well as architects, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs etc. I really admire anyone who works towards simplicity, quality and longevity.
Q11. Finally, what are you most excited about as your career progresses, are there any particular goals you have?