Artisan Blog

Time: Your Greatest Asset

Katty Douraghy - Wednesday, July 09, 2014

What is the one thing we all want more of, but cannot buy it, earn it, or save it? The one thing that when it passes us by, it can never ever be regained? Time!

No matter who we are, or what we do, we only have 1440 minutes in a day. We all start our days with those same elusive 86,400 seconds and spend vastly different ways of enjoying or squandering it.

Time is a mystery, and if I don’t figure out a way to manage it, time will manage me.

How do I manage my time?

The only way I know how is to diligently work from a plan. Without a plan I become disorganized and distracted. To keep me on track and on time, I adhere to some of the pointers below, and am adding in new ones to take my plan to the next level.

This is the plan that works best for me and I am most productive when I follow it:

1) Start my day by 6 AM so I can take advantage of the early morning hours, my favorite time of the day.

2) Schedule workouts, meditation, journaling and learning a new tool into my calendar every day and do these in the early AM hours.

3) NEW: Schedule my lunch and a 15-minute afternoon break for a walk outside or a nice cup of tea. I find mini-breaks serve as fuel for the soul and get me more energized and productive than if I powered through lunch.

4) NEW: Schedule my calendar and To Do list the day before. Schedule the time to work on your schedule.

5) NEW: Plan a regimented but fluid schedule down to every ½ hour task. Schedule all calls and meetings and don’t be late…or this will have a snowball effect.

5) NEW: Avoid distractions -- Don't turn on Facebook/Twitter on mobile devices unless on a break or it’s scheduled time. I LOVE social media, but it can be a time thief if I allow it. I can easily spend countless hours on social media. I schedule time for social media. Same with emails… It’s OK to have emails turned off while focusing on other tasks. I absolutely turn off the notification beeps.

6) Adhere to my version of Zero Inbox rules. My version is not an inbox that has zero emails, rather it’s one that adheres to a zero unread inbox. This adapted system works well for me and is a daily goal. I read each email, file, flag, delete or add a task to those that can’t be answered immediately or require research.

7) NEW: Set reminders and alarms for all tasks. My brain cannot remember everything—nor should it be wasted trying to remember mundane to-dos—that’s what reminders and alarms are for.

8) Use time management tools like Chime, Slimtimer, Evernote, or Doodle to schedule meetings and keep track of tasks. There is a tool out there that is right for everyone—find yours.

9) Communicate my calendar. Artisan Creative proudly promotes a virtual work environment—for this to work well, we communicate regularly via AIM, Zoom or Skype. Therefore we set our status on our AIM to communicate our availability or lack of ….In a meeting, OTP, DND

10) I am not perfect and occasionally fall off the plan. I’ve learned to forgive myself, and quickly course correct so I am back on track.

Katty Douraghy, President, Artisan Creative

Every Day Can Be Independence Day

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Most freelancers are freelancing by choice and happy about it. There is more flexibility than in a permanent job. They can choose their own schedule. It does take a lot of self-discipline, though, to be a successful freelancer and wearing your PJ’s all day isn’t part of it. If you want the independence, here are some tips to help you make it work:

Create a routine

Having flexible work hours is a great benefit of freelancing, but spreading your work out over a long day can just mean working longer than your office counterparts. Plan your work time and your breaks to maximize productivity and minimize overtime.

Be prepared

Every performer knows that a significant amount of a character can come from wearing their costume, especially the shoes. It doesn’t take a suit or tie to have a successful day or a successful business, but getting ready for work in the morning can make a significant difference in mindset, especially if you have meetings over the telephone or computer with clients. You never know when a client will call to discuss a project!

Say No

Some of your friends may assume you are free to do whatever you want when you are a freelancer and they might wonder why you can’t go out on a moment’s notice. TThe rules of your school years apply just as well here: homework before playtime. If you want to keep your clients happy and get referrals to others, keep your deadlines in mind. No one knows if you are working through lunch or going to a picnic except you. Choose wisely. Your friend will call again.

Say Yes

On the other hand, of course, the freelance lifestyle means you can take time for yourself and your family when your workload permits. Don’t spend all your time staring at the screen. Your creativity will suffer! Especially when you have a little lull in your schedule, take advantage of it and enjoy!

Independence is a wonderful feeling but it does come with responsibilities--to yourself, to your clients, and to your family. When independence and responsibility are in balance, the freelance life is a very happy one.

Artisan wishes you and yours a very happy--and safe--Independence Day!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Boost Your Summer Creativity

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Do you feel more or less creative in the summer months? High temperatures and humidity can seem to leach energy and productivity right out of our day. There are, however, some special things about the summer season that we can use to boost creativity if we let them:

Time with family

From K through college, kids are home for the summer and underfoot. But don’t let work stop you from spending some quality time with them--it could actually make you more creative. Let their enthusiasm boost your own and make sure to remember any crazy ideas that come to you during special playtimes.


A small change of scene can make a big difference, but a big change of scene can do even more. Even the light is different in another country. Be especially present when you are somewhere new and different, take lots of pictures to help you recapture how you felt there, and carry a notepad with you just in case of a brilliant insight.


We can’t play and travel all summer--sometimes we have to get some work done. “All work and no play…” isn’t a well-known saying for nothing, though. It’s okay to slow down, take breaks and remember why you love to do what you do. We are hardwired to think of summer as a slower season so go ahead and do so. You will probably improve your productivity during working hours.

Try something new

What have you always wanted to learn? Whether work-related or a new hobby, learning something new changes your perspective on the familiar and may spark new solutions to old problems. 

My family decided to take a break and vacation right at the beginning of the summer, and now I get to use all that inspiration from traveling with them overseas to rejuvenate my creativity. What are you doing to boost yours?

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Coffee Shop Etiquette

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Even if you work from a home office, it’s nice to get away on occasion. If you need internet access, a coffee shop with wifi is the logical choice for many freelancers. These establishments expect to have some customers bring their laptops along and stake out a claim, but some people take advantage of the conveniences and think of coffee shops as their personal space.

How can you be a great coffee shop patron while you work?

Buy something--The coffee shop/work relationship shouldn’t be one sided. Spend a little money when you arrive and again later if you stay a while.

Tip the staff--Especially if you are a regular at that corner table. You are taking up space in a restaurant and the barista is your server.

Share power--You’re probably already scoping out the location of the electrical outlets, but make sure you’re not blocking one if you’re not using it and offer it to the people next to you if you’re the one with the best seat.

Go home--Just because you could stay all day doesn’t mean you should. The coffee shop really isn’t your office for an entire workday.

Be polite--Loud phone conversations and poor table manners won’t make you any friends. You’ll probably be seeing those people again next week--don’t make them groan when they see you coming.

I usually work from a local coffee shop one morning a week, just to get a change of scene and a little bustle to keep me motivated. How about you?

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

How Does Technology Impact Your Life?

Katty Douraghy - Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I’m currently reading and implementing some of Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage Principles. One best practice is to write down your daily gratitudes.

My gratitude for today is Technology. That one thing we are all so reliant on--it does everything from opening up car doors to turning on the lights.

When Artisan started over 25 years ago, it was the world of Xacto knives, spray mount and paste-up and the time of the Macintosh and then Powerbook. A lot has changed. We at Artisan have continued to evolve with technology and with the talent we work with and clients whose digital needs we service daily.

The technology-related gratitude I am writing about today comes from a personal experience. Last week I traveled to Greece to attend the Entrepreneurs' Organization’s Global Leadership Conference. We were 1100+ strong and I was excited to reconnect with friends and business owners from across the globe. We stay in touch regularly through social media, but opportunities to meet in person are less regular. With WhatsApp, Facebook and my laptop handy, I set off for Athens excited to make plans in between meetings and lectures.

However, the technology gods at my hotel had a different plan... Unable to connect to a very spotty wifi meant no way of easily finding the people I was looking for, so I set out in person the old fashioned way—hanging around the lobby to see who I would bump into.

How did I ever function without cell phones, IMs and chats? Just fine actually. I just got lost a bit more often and missed a few people in the big crowds. In some ways, it was liberating not having technology to rely on—though I realized it’s not something I would like to be without too often. I like to be connected.

I like how technology enables me to Facetime with my little niece and two nephews who live in Europe. I like how technology allows me to celebrate their birthdays and be a part of their lives, and for a few moments have them transported back into my living room. I like how technology enables our virtual team at Artisan to be cohesive--and connected.

I like how technology allows me to be connected to clients and talent even when I am thousands of miles away. It gives me access to the answers to the silliest of questions. “Who created the sandwich?” was a recent question my friends had pondered… Without technology, we wouldn’t know the answer!

And for these reasons, my gratitude for today is technology.

Have you ever found yourself without the technology you take for granted?

Katty Douraghy, President, Artisan Creative

Is Recruitment the Career for Me?

Laura Pell - Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Moving from agency to recruitment

Have you ever noticed there are a lot of creative recruiters who used to work in agencies? Perhaps you’re working in AdLand and have entertained the idea of moving into recruitment?

Chuck Palahniuk once said “Find joy in everything that you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home. It’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.” When I was no longer finding joy in my job, I changed careers. I joined a recruitment agency in London and spent two years working under an ex-Project Manager from Ogilvy who was a huge influence on my career. Having worked at a digital agency, changing careers into recruitment seemed simple, especially when applying project management techniques.

Moving from the creative world to recruitment is a natural transition for many people. Some of the best recruiters I know once worked for agencies--production artists, account managers and project managers. Many of the core responsibilities of working in an agency can be applied to recruitment: managing briefs, dealing with budgets, scheduling, leading meetings, reviewing design portfolios, blogging, social media, marketing and events. It’s all there.   

Why would someone choose to leave an agency and move to recruitment?

For me, I wanted a change. I knew I wanted to do something that allowed me to have some kind of avenue into the creative industry but I also wanted my own independence and freedom. When you work as a recruiter, you’re working on your own to build a network--the more work you put in, the more you get back (which is true for many jobs, but especially applies to recruitment.) 

Artisan is a virtual agency. We work remotely and stay connected by Skype, AIM and phone. This setup isn’t for everyone, but it works wonderfully for those who crave their own space and have the skills to work autonomously--obviously being in LA, no commute is an added bonus. 

How do I make the first step into recruitment?

There’s a lot to consider, so make sure you do your research. Find out about local agencies. Do they focus on design or are they technical? Do their recruiters manage full desks (meaning they do sales AND recruitment)? Are they owned by a bigger corporation? Do you prefer to work for smaller independent companies? What kind of positions do they recruit for? Ask questions. Contact other recruiters who made the move. Find out about their culture and see if it resonates with you.

If you have a question about recruitment, Artisan or changing careers, connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn and email.

Laura Pell, Talent Acquisition for Artisan Creative

A Summer Job Search

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A persistent job search myth: No one hires in the summer.

The truth is most companies hire at about the same rate in summer as they do the rest of the year and summer can be the best time to look for a new role. If you spend your time wisely, you still might be able to fit a couple of beach days in.

Why is summer a good time to look for a new job?

Time for onboarding and training--While many companies may have fewer projects to work on in the summer, they can take the time to interview, hire and train new employees without a lot of the stress of deadlines that come around during the rest of the year.

Temporary work--While some permanent employees are on vacation, companies can bring in new people on a temporary basis to try them out before hiring. As a potential candidate, you can show them how you work and how you would fit into their culture on the spot.

Less competition--Because other job seekers will believe the no-one-hires-in-summer myth, there are fewer candidates with whom to compete.

More relaxed--We are well trained to change our mindset in the summer to a calmer, less worried one than in the fall. Being more relaxed--as long as you are still prepared--can only help you in your interview process.

Fall is coming--The busier season will soon be upon those potential employers and if they want to have new, trained, skilled workers at their desks in September, they have to start the process in July or August.

Summer is when quality time management comes into play in your job search. Don’t spend all day, every day sending out online applications--get some recreation time in, too. But equally don’t give up your job search for the warmer months. Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for talent--help them find you.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Tips for Successful Video Meetings

Katty Douraghy - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When was the last time you had to conduct a Skype interview or had a FaceTime meeting? How was your experience?

In today’s global environment with multiple offices across numerous time zones, the virtual office space makes conducting video meetings and interviews a necessary daily activity.

In 2009, we at Artisan Creative decided that the benefits of a successful virtual environment outweighed the stress of the daily commute. We love it and firmly believe in the life/work integration that a virtual setting provides our team. From the business standpoint, we stay connected, have daily meetings, and conduct initial candidate interviews using a multitude of online collaboration tools such as, and Skype.

Over the years, we have developed best practices and would like to share some tips on how to conduct the best video meeting/interview.
  • Test your equipment beforehand: Nothing can take away from the quality of your meeting or impact the first impression negatively more than being unable to actually connect and have a clear conversation!
Technical issues are commonplace, so check your connection, video and audio quality the day before. Conduct a dry run with a friend or colleague to make sure no issues persist. 

Have a back-up plan if on the day of the interview or meeting an unexpected issue arises.

Check the screen placement and height—What do they see? Watch the camera—Are you making eye contact? Are you talking to the person in front of you,or looking to the side? I have had interviews where I could only see the top half of someone’s head, or was looking up their nose…so practice ahead of time!
  • Clean up your surroundings: Whether you are conducting the meeting from your home office, or a conference room, check your surroundings to see what will be seen on-screen. Desk clutter, inappropriate wall hangings and artwork, a messy room... keep in mind that a video meeting should be treated the same as an in-person one. 
  • Dress for Success: You have a precious few seconds to make a good first impression. A video interview is often the first step in the overall process. Dress appropriately as you would an in-person interview or meeting.
I once conducted a Saturday morning interview and my candidate showed up for the video interview in a bathrobe drinking a cup of morning coffee! Needless to say, that wasn’t quite in line with the qualification criteria I was aiming for with my client.
  • Smile and Focus! 
Smile—You are on camera! Enough said.

Focus—Incoming calls/emails/IMs are all distractions--for both you and your interviewer. Turn everything off and focus on the task at hand. Be present and practice active listening skills. 

If you need reference points about the company or a copy of your resume handy, place it at eye level so you do not have to take your eyes off the screen, which can come across as being distracted. If that is not possible, set the stage by letting the other person know you are referencing other material.

Practice as much as you can ahead of time. Call a friend and conduct a brief mock interview/meeting.
  • Follow-up: Finally, treat your online interview the same as an in-person one. Follow-up with a thank you note or email. Send any requested back-up documents as soon as possible. The goal here is to move to the next phase of the interview process, and get closer to the job you are looking for!
Katty Douraghy, President, Artisan Creative

Your First "Real" Job Interview

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Although you probably have had jobs during your high school and college years, if you are graduating from college in the next few weeks, you may be having your first “real” job interview in the near future. We hope our job search tips for graduates helped you land that interview. Here are our tips for your first time sitting across the desk from a hiring manager in your field:

Do some research--You might think you are done with research after you throw your mortarboard in the air, but all that work at school was preparing you for the research you need to do throughout your career. Look up that company you are interviewing with next week on LinkedIn and read everything on their website. Know their mission and everything you can learn about their culture.

Get a great outfit--You might be reading articles about how everyone these days has tattoos and wears jeans to work, but that hiring manager isn’t your friend yet. Dress up more than absolutely necessary and keep your individual style down to an accessory that shows your personality. You will have a better idea of what is acceptable at the company after your interview and may be able to be more casual at your second interview. Bide your time.

Practice--Can't say it too many times! Don’t just think about your answers to typical interview questions, practice them out loud with a trusted friend. You need to know how to keep your answers to a good length, know your stories well enough to keep eye contact while you are talking, and get some feedback. If you have some options for “What is your greatest accomplishment?” or “Tell me about yourself,” a mock interview is the perfect place to give them each a tryout.

Everyone gets nervous before interviews, even those more experienced than you. If you know you are as prepared as possible, you will get into the zone quickly and be able to establish a real connection with the hiring manager and maybe it won’t take you too long to land the perfect first job after graduation.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Fun in Freelancing

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, May 07, 2014

There are lots of positives about being a freelance creative, but one that often gets overlooked is the fun of starting something new in a new place more often than people with permanent jobs. If you can look beyond the anxiety inherent in lots of “first days,” you can appreciate the great things about new starts:

Make connections--Like to make new friends and network? Short-term freelance jobs let you meet new people often and show them what you can do. You can never meet too many people, especially in your field.

Learn something new--Every project has unique challenges. Embrace them and you can keep learning throughout your career.

Explore neighborhoods--When you work in the same place for a long time, you can get comfortable, but you can also get bored. Ask one of your new friends to walk around with you on your lunch breaks for a few days. You never know what you might find.

Discovering a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or park isn’t the only perk to that walk. We came across a study from Stanford University this week that showed that “walking boosts creative inspiration” by as much as 60%. 

So, when you start that new freelance gig, don’t be shy about walking around on breaks or at lunch. Ask your co-workers for the best places in the area to eat or read. Find outdoor spaces you’ve never seen before. You might find yourself an expert on parts of your city no one you know has ever seen, and you might also find it makes you more creative and more successful.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

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