Olivia Herrick is a Minnesota-based designer who loves competitive golf and the great outdoors. She recently teamed up with Juno to turn her artwork into greeting cards.
How did you get your start in design?
My mom, who was an art director and was extremely creative, had us living a pretty creative life growing up and introduced me to the arts. I also was fortunate to go to a school that placed a lot of emphasis on the arts — fine arts, visual arts, and performing arts — so I had a high exposure to the creative world.
I thought I wanted to be an interior designer, but then when I was in high school I started to flip over and have this interest that popped up in graphic design. That [interest] really crystallized before I went to college, so I knew I wanted to go somewhere with a good design program. I’m really grateful for that timeline because it allowed me to go to school for design because I think that laid a nice foundation for my work. But in terms of specializing, I certainly wasn’t doing the type of work that I do now when I first graduated from college. That has been the product of time.
Just a couple of weeks ago marked ten years of being a professional designer. When you’re on the wild, crazy journey, living it day-to-day, it doesn’t make sense, but then you look back after ten years and think, “Oh, all of that went together perfectly to lead me where I am today.”
Did the kinds of projects you were working on evolve over the years?
I graduated college in 2010 and for those of us that were design students, freelancing full-time was not something that was on anyone’s mind. No one wanted to go run their own business out of college. That has changed a lot. There are a lot of people that want to do that right away now. But I worked for six years full-time before I started running my own studio. So the type of work that I was doing was very different from job to job. But that really allowed me to be exposed to what it meant to be a designer in the real world. In design school the copy is always exactly the right length and you just don’t have any realistic constraints that you have when you’re an actual designer — sticking to budget and a million other things. So my work has evolved greatly from those first jobs. Part of that is intentionally. I’ve now moved into the specific things that I enjoy most, that work best for my studio, and tick all the right boxes.
What is your daily process or workload look like these days?
It really depends day to day. In the summer I try to take a fair amount of time off because I live in Minnesota and we can really only make the most of the outdoor world a couple of months a year. Not that’s not to say it’s not a great place to live, because we all have outdoor winter hobbies too. But it certainly is a time of year when I’m trying to do as little work as possible. This Monday I kicked off my normal work schedule. Generally, I work four days a week and spend three and a half of them working on client projects. Then the last half working on general business stuff, my own marketing. I work with a lot of new and younger designers, so I’ll put together some materials and resources for them. So it’s a fun balance.
For your personal work, where do you find your ideas and inspiration?
It’s a strange process. I’ve tried to explain it to people before. For a lot of the design-related parts of my business, I just see it. This happens to me especially with color. I just kind of see color in the natural world and my brain is somehow wired to pair different things together.
But for branding concepts and some of my writing, it’s really a process. For visual branding, like logo design, there’s always a deeper meaning or symbolism to what I’m creating. It takes a lot of discipline to keep pushing the ideas because generally the first idea isn’t the best, so you want to keep going and going and going and then come back around. It’s very long process at times, but it’s very fulfilling.
How has your work and life changed this year?
We had a stay-at-home order for about fifty days, so I closed my studio and I actually worked in our little 13-foot fiberglass camper in our driveway. I’ve been working on my own now for many years, so I’m used to being a little isolated. I had a lot friends who have reached out over the last couple of months to say, “How do you do this? It’s so isolating. I miss my coworkers. I always thought I wanted to work from home, but I totally don’t!” But I’m very happy to be back in my office and creative space.
A lot of your work seems to have this really encouraging and optimistic message. How does optimism play into your life and work?
I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of gal and I’ve been that way my whole life. My friends and I used to have this journal that we would mail around when we were in college. We would each write in the journal and then send it to the next person. We were reading it recently and all of my entries are just waxing poetic about how there’s so much opportunity for goodness in the world, so I think I’ve been this way for quite some time.
Optimism is definitely a nice aspirational thought for day-to-day life. I personally think it’s the only way that I’m capable of existing — giving people the benefit of the doubt, not taking things too seriously, trying to find some bright spot in each day. But I’m also aware of toxic positivity that dismisses all feelings of negativity. There are some things in life that are just terrible and there’s no silver lining — they’re just a bummer. So there’s a delicate balance.
Early on in the pandemic I saw a lot of messages along the lines of “This is such a great opportunity to write your novel, etc…” and simultaneously I had friends who were losing jobs and concerned about how they were going to pay bills. It’s good to try to see the good, but it’s also important to be empathetic and understanding. I try to toe the line between being positive and upbeat, which is my true nature, and also acknowledging that life has ups and downs, and the ups are really only as satisfying as they are because of the harder moments as well.
Do you still send friends and family letters or mail journals back and forth?
My mom and all of her sisters are very into paper mail. My husband and I just had our anniversary last week and when I opened the mail box there were two cards in there. It was such a bright spot in my week that someone took the time to write and to think of us. I think that’s something is really lost in technology. So I try to prioritize it as much as I can. I always reflect on how good it feels to receive a card, package, or note from someone, and I try to put that energy back into the world for my family and friends too.
How did you get into competitive golfing?
I’ve been playing golf competitively for a long time. I started playing when I was eight, started competing when I was around 15. I played in college, and then as I was graduating, I had to decide if I wanted to turn pro or if I wanted to go work. I was tired of the lifestyle, of having to juggle everything in college, of traveling nationally and internationally in the summers for tournaments. So it was kind of a lot. I knew that if I didn’t like that lifestyle and I was only doing it part of the year, then I certainly wasn’t going to like playing professional golf. But my dad introduced me to the sport and I still love it, I still compete. It’s a fun competitive outlet for me.