Designers / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Annabel Shingler, Senior Graphic Designer at Westhill Communications

Annabel Shingler is a freelance designer and Senior Graphic Designer at a Soho-based design agency Westhill Communications.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

Yep! After studying at two design institutions I landed my first job at 25 as a Junior graphic designer at an experiential marketing agency. It wasn’t my dream job, but it got my foot in the door and allowed me to build my skill-set and contacts.

After a few years full-time, I began freelancing, built up my client base, and contracted in-house in design studios and agencies for several years.

Freelancing gave me such diverse experiences, I worked in the arts, events, television and the corporate sector, I met so many people and had experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Freelancing also allowed me to be flexible with my time and make the most of living on Sydney’s East coast. I’ve since moved to London and work full-time as a Senior Graphic Designer in a design agency, in Soho.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I’m now into week 4 of furlough (temporary leave from work) due to COVID-19 lock-down, so my workday is looking a bit different than usual!

I’ve kept up my personal freelance work and have also started developing an essential oil range, inspired by my time living in Bondi, which I hope to launch in the coming months.

I split my day up with research, design, and playing with oils and kick-boxing in the park or a super long bike ride with my boyfriend.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

As I work as a creative lead, mentoring junior designers I am expected to be working from the studio. In other jobs, however, I’ve had set days where I can choose to work from home, or from a creative networking hub with other creatives.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I feel this is tricky for creatives working in the industry, as creativity doesn’t stop when you log off for the day, ideas come at all hours of the day/night so I find myself researching a lot on my way home from work/in the evenings and illustrating and designing in my own time. Maybe I still need help with this one.

5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

  1. Don’t over commit to projects if you have a lot on, deadlines come hard and fast
  2. Get organised to save stress, time and money
  3. Get the hardest, most niggly task out of the way as soon as it lands on your plate to free up mental space to allow ideas to form
  4. Take a break from what you’re doing, distance and difference is the secret tonic to creativity. I read that somewhere.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I really enjoy the daily-round up newsletters from It’s Nice That, which is full of the latest design and art news, I also like to listen to Elizabeth Gilbert talks about creativity and Jon Ronson’s podcasts.

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

I do it the night before and make sure I get enough sleep if I don’t have evening plans I aim for bed around 9:30-10pm.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Ariana Huffington. She rates her sleep too.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Right now is a great time to reflect on work-life balance and assess where we’re currently at in our careers and what we really want for the future.

For me, slowing down and has freed up space to be creative in different avenues and focus on what’s most important to me.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.