Modern Work is a podcast where people around the world talk about the work they do & how they got there.

Interview topics include careers, childhood hobbies, education, entrepreneurship, office culture, work-life balance, remote work, digital nomads, apps, tools, processes, workflow, strategy, and more. 

The host, Katherine Conaway, is a consultant, writer & traveler.

Laura Hansen, Graphic Designer

Laura Hansen, Graphic Designer

Listen to this episode via the audio file below, or on one of these platforms:

Laura Hansen

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Laura Hansen is a graphic designer from North Carolina, currently living and working in Columbus, Ohio. Her experience at numerous U.S. agencies has helped her develop the skills needed to master a variety of mediums, in a wide range of industries. Now, as a freelancer, she provides quality design and marketing expertise for companies ranging from Fortune500's to small start-ups.

She enjoys all things creative and stays busy working, traveling, hanging out with friends, going to concerts, and watching old movies. If you can’t find her riding her bike around town, she’s probably at home experimenting on some new design project.


Episode: Laura Hansen, Graphic Designer & Owner, LaHa Design

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LINKS + MENTIONS

 

SHOW NOTES & SUMMARY POINTS (CHRONOLOGICAL)

  • Introduction
    • Freelance graphic designer, has worked in advertising 
    • Started her company, LaHa Design, 4 years ago
    • Member of Remote Year’s second group, Battuta
    • Hometown is Greensboro, North Carolina
    • Living in New York City before coming on Remote Year
    • Went to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Georgia
    • Worked in advertising in Dallas, Texas, and then in New York
    • Idea of NYC as a marketing / advertising / creative mecca, but it’s not the dream working environment it may seem
    • After Remote Year, moving to Columbus, Ohio with her partner
  • Education
    • As a kid, always artistic and then got addicted to MS Paint on her family computer
    • In high school, picking electives and her dad found a communication arts class at another school nearby, so she took 3 years of those classes and learned the Adobe Creative Suite 
    • The teacher would bring in local businesses to have students design logos for them & learn process for working with a client
    • Looking for college, knew she wanted arts and design programs
    • Played soccer, golf, and other sports in high school, and got athletic scholarships to several schools
    • Chose SCAD because she could play sports there and go to art school, and her visit to the campus solidified it because campus was beautiful and technologically advanced (2003 era)
    • Graphic Design major includes design, typography, web design, branding, way finding, and other electives; minor in motion graphics & 2D animation
    • All people are users of design & if it’s done well, it feels intuitive, but if you’re confused, then the design has failed
    • Advertising class included more copywriting 
    • Strength is taking concepts and bringing them to life 
    • Internships included a small local design studio in Greensboro and an agency in Atlanta 
    • Organization is really critical as a designer
  • Early Career
    • Graduated in 2008 (hello Recession!) and went to Denver with a friend to try and get jobs, but no one was hiring
    • Her friend got a job in Dallas, Texas, and she went there with her & found a job at a huge advertising agency
    • First job at TPN agency, which did retail marketing (in-store materials), worked on Gatorade account as a Junior Art Director
    • Art Directors are more involved in concepting phase than just design work only
    • Experienced corporate structure and benefits and challenges, realized she wanted a smaller studio and more mobility & growth opportunities
    • Early in your career, look at the people above you to see where your trajectory is heading & if it’s where you want to go
    • Moved to a small agency in Dallas & was a designer but also everything else; was hired as 8th employee and when she left 3 years later, there were 30 employees
    • First client was Samsung Mobile 
    • Understanding and learning the business side of design - it’s not just about making things look pretty or cool, it needs to meet client’s needs & budgets
    • As a creative, make yourself valuable to clients by understanding their business objectives & budgets
    • Decided she was ready to leave Dallas and always wanted to live in New York, so got a job at another small agency in NYC but within 2 months they were bought by a big agency that did events
    • Case studies: Garnier shampoo promotional tour and LG smart phone
    • Creative Director vs. Art Director: part of the hierarchy of an agency, creative direction is less hands-on than art direction, more directing and overseeing all elements of the creative (not just design - including copywriting, technical, video, and other materials)
    • In spite of the success of becoming a director, there was less time spent creating & designing, more time spent on the phone & managing clients
    • Promotional tracks often put people into management, but they stop doing their skill as they move up (not design or development)
    • Being at a sales-focused company & being overworked, impact on role and job experience
  • LaHa Design
    • Quit job, went on a 3 month road trip around the USA & saw what friends were doing in their jobs, and decided to start freelancing
    • Travel benefit of professional inspirational & informative for lifestyle & career
    • Built her freelance business by updating website, resume, and portfolio book & emailed them to everyone she knew (personally & professionally), which led to getting booked to do small gigs
    • Never underestimate the power of your extended network
    • Freelanced for old company
    • Mutual benefit of freelance: ability for clients to book you for contract work, but they wouldn’t necessarily be able to hire an employee
    • Time = money, learn the value of your time & how to manage your scope
    • Project managing yourself and clients as a freelancer & managing the business side (non-billable time), pitching, rates, signoff, invoicing, learning to have conversations with clients about revisions
    • LaHa Design does most aspects of marketing & advertising: print, web, animation, branding, logos, B2B (presentations, flyers, collateral)
    • Average 15-20 hours design work per week; 8-10 hours of admin
    • Case Study: Remote Year Battuta Yearbook - designed icons & identity & layout and directed team for project (100+ hours of work); cohesive editorial aesthetic & custom icons to represent our experience & deciding on the information to include
    • Passion projects = being both the client and the creative & practice the process on both sides; Lauren Hom’s course
  • Update: Moved to Columbus and created Drumpf Cards
Thank you for listening!

 

POST-INTERVIEW UPDATE

Laura moved to Columbus, Ohio, with her partner, Jessie (who she met on Remote Year), for Jessie’s new job at BrewDog. Laura has enjoyed exploring this new city like it was a (super) extended month 13. They are slowly but surely acclimating to life in a growing, midwest city, and meeting some incredible, creative people along the way. Not to mention, enjoying all of the BrewDog beer they can.

Laura is still doing freelance and working at building up LaHa Design. She has gained a few new clients this year, including a gig with Remote Year. She is also exploring ways to do more hands-on work and limit the amount of time spent in front of a computer. 

She also recently launched a new passion project: Drumpf Card

The idea for Drumpf Card came after a conversation my partner and I had with a Trump Supporter. We asked them why they like Drumpf so much and all they kept saying was, "Well, I just like him 'cause he's a great businessman" but could not back it up with anything else. It infuriated us.

We realized a lot of his supporters only have these one-liner reasons why they like him, without having any actual information about why it was true. They like the IMAGE that Drumpf has created for them.

So we created a quick fact rebuttal to these statements. A one-upper to the one-liner; a Trump Card. We decided to call it Drumpf Card to play off Last Week Tonight's bit about Trump's name actually being Drumpf. 

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We've written and designed 52 Drumpf Cards. Each card is a sharable meme that can be posted all over the internets and on social media. It's also a deck of 52 playing cards that can be sold and shared as gifts (for the Drump-loving family members in your life).

Our main goal is to inform. This isn’t about left vs. right. We want to communicate and listen. We hope people read the facts, share the memes, buy a pack or two, and talk to a Drumpf supporter… maybe we can get through to some.

 

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