Designers / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Julia Fletcher, Graphic Designer & Photographer

Julia Fletcher is a designer, photographer, and content creator based in Manhattan, NYC, where she is currently freelancing for Second City Prints and AdHoc Presents.

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

I’m a designer, photographer, and content creator currently based in Manhattan, NYC. I work in the music industry — specializing in poster design, merchandise, social media content, and album artwork.

Right now I take on a few roles, I’m a freelance designer for Second City Prints, an editorial intern for Alt Citizen, and a freelance photographer for AdHoc Presents.

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

Since COVID has taken over, the music industry has been on hold which has been especially hard for those of us who rely on gigs for income.

While a typical day not in quarantine would look like photographing shows for AdHoc or Alt Citizen, or designing posters for upcoming gigs, everything has shifted and visual artists in the music industry have to get creative with how we source income.

For me, that’s been designing my own merch and selling it through my online store to get some extra rent cash. I’ve also been super vocal online about taking freelance gigs, so I’ve been working on various projects that have shown up in my email inbox — from album artwork to merch lines!

Every recent workday has been remote and work from home, so that typically looks like managing my online store and getting orders processed and shipped out, working on content for Alt Citizen, and designing merch for various bands through Second City Prints.

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

Everything since quarantine has been remote with a flexible work from home schedule. Since I work for myself right now, I set my own work hours. Quarantine has pretty much forced me into the freelance lifestyle, because I was actually searching for a full time job before everything.

I quit my corporate 9-5 job in February because it wasn’t in my career field at all, and was mentally draining. I guess it was bad timing with everything that happened shortly after, but I’ve learned that this new routine of working for myself as a freelancer is actually pretty rewarding financially and mentally.

Knowing when to walk away from something and take breaks has been really helpful for me.

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

I’ve had to re-define what a work-life balance means to me over the past few weeks since I transitioned to full time freelance. Since most of the projects I take on I’m passionate about, it’s tempting to want to just spend all my time on them until they’re done. But that could be extremely tiring and I could easily overwork myself.

As a full time freelancer now working from home, I really needed to start setting boundaries for myself and one of those was not working on the weekends. When your hobby is your career, it’s easy to just work on projects all the time.

It feels so easy to just pick up my laptop and start working on commissions, but I desperately need to treat my remote work like it’s a regular 9-5, and only work weekdays during specific hours, because even though I work freelance, I still deserve my weekends.

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?

Knowing when to walk away from something and take breaks has been really helpful for me. There is such a thing as working on something too much and frying your brain!

It’s easier said than done, but when you’re feeling frustrated working on a project, close your Photoshop file and do something else. Bonus points if that something else isn’t on your computer at all. You’re almost hitting the restart button on your brain, which sometimes helps you come to a solution for a project faster than if you were to just continue overworking yourself.

This new routine I’ve established for myself with only working on freelance during the weekdays is also becoming my new favorite habit. It shows me that I care about my personal life and mental health enough to give myself time to enjoy life outside of commissions.

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

Something I find helpful even if I’m not working on projects is to just search for inspiration! By making a Pinterest moodboard, going on Instagram, or watching Youtube videos.

You’re still working on your portfolio but just in a more low-key way, it feels more casual. It’s a way to work without actually ~making~ anything.

Give yourself time to feel and react.

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

I’m pretty sure it exists somewhere, but art director and design extraordinaire Jessica Walsh. She founded &walsh, which is in the .1% of creative agencies in the world led by women. She’s an inspiration for young women in design and has for sure inspired me to become more passionate and confident in my field.

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

When your hobby is your career, the work/life balance can blur easily. I encourage all my new freelance and remote workers to set boundaries for yourself when it comes to your career. Don’t just work on projects endlessly because we have all the time in the world right now. It’s important to preserve “you” time, so that you don’t overwork yourself and lose your sanity.

It’s also important to remember that especially right now during this pandemic, you are not your productivity. Some people use productivity as a way to keep busy and help their mental health, which is totally fine! But there is a social pressure to be productive with all the “free time” we’ve been given, but it’s important to make space for yourself mentally to deal with our current situation.

Give yourself time to feel and react.

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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.