Creativity Design Profiles

12 Questions with Katrin Schroeder, Artist and Graphic Designer

Name: Kate (Katrin when I’m in trouble) Schroeder  /  Age: 26  /  Location: Currently based in Minneapolis, MN  /  Current Title: Full time Artist, part time Graphic Designer at Sigma Beauty  /  Educational Background: BFA in Graphic Design with a Communication Minor, University of Minnesota Duluth

Let’s start from the beginning. How did your interest in fine art and/or graphic design come about?

Honestly, I’ve always found art alluring. When I moved out of my parents place a few years back we found a drawing from Kindergarten of what I wanted to be when I grew up – an artist (ironically, a poorly–drawn one). Throughout grade school I won various art competitions and was the first student at my high school to do AP art (I was the only student in the class, so you know I didn’t cheat on any of the tests).

In college I spent my freshman year debating weather to major in fine art or graphic design and went with the later, thinking it’s easier to paint with a graphic design degree than to be a graphic designer with a fine art degree. Before college I didn’t even really know what graphic design was but I knew it was considered a more ‘reliable’ and ‘steady’ field than fine art and it involved creativity.

When did you realize that art was going to be something you wanted to pursue?

I can’t think of a time when it wasn’t something that I wanted to pursue. Only recently did I figure out how to make it real. To be honest, I studied graphic design instead of fine art largely because it appears to be a safer choice. In our society, a career as a graphic designer is considered more ‘practical’ than a career in fine art. It provides a steady income and stability.

Up until last year, I was working full time as a graphic designer (at Sigma Beauty), telling myself that is what I wanted. During the Spring, the idea of promoting me to Senior Designer and leading the design team was discussed. I should have been thrilled and I wasn’t, and that bothered me. After a lot of contemplation, I realized I wasn’t excited about the idea because that’s not what I actually want to do. I want to be an artist.

“There’s a constant inner pressure to work and make progress. Slowly, I’m learning to give myself permission to breathe every once in a while.”

What does a day in your life look like – career and general?

I start off the week working 9–5 at Sigma and end the week working on freelance projects, commissions and self initiated projects so there are two main types of days.

  • Monday–Wednesday: I generally wake up at 7:40 and hit the snooze button (way too many times) and roll into work at 9. Depending on where we are at with collections, I may spend the work day in a room we call “the vault” creating art for packaging or at my desk creating art direction proposals and preparing files for production. After work I usually keep things really low-key and go to the gym before ending the evening with my boyfriend, Erik.
  • Thursday–Friday (and Saturday + Sunday): I generally wake up around 8:30 and start working on projects (whether it’s freelance, commissioned painting, or other) by 9:30. I tend to run errands before 5, as there are less people (aka shorter lines!) out and about during the day and I can be more efficient. For however much time I spend running errands, I usually work into the evening (or longer). Of course, things like concerts and other events are sprinkled in throughout the week – Minneapolis has a fantastic music scene!
How do you achieve your own work-life balance?

As someone whose career is currently transitioning (and also an impatient Aries) balance doesn’t come easy. There’s a constant inner pressure to work and make progress. Slowly, I’m learning to give myself permission to breathe every once in a while. Now, if I work freelance projects a few hours after working a day at Sigma I allow myself to work a few less hours later in the week without beating myself up about it.

Does creativity come easily, or is it something you have to work at?

Creativity is non–linear. Somedays it is bountiful and I can hardly keep up and other days things come more slowly. I usually know what kind of day it’s going to be right away in the morning and work on projects accordingly.

What advice would you give to those who are struggling to find their passion?

Stay curious and be present. If you haven’t found your passion yet you’re not going to find it doing the same things over and over again, so make a change and try something new. Eventually, it will present itself organically.

Do you have any app recommendations?

You bet! I really enjoy Qapital – it assists with stashing away money for anything from frivolous trips to saving to pay off your car. Duolingo – it’s a great way to dabble in the basics of other languages. Poshmark – it’s great for selling and finding clothes. I got a new $300 dress for $70 to wear to a wedding!

You work as a graphic designer part–time. What is that experience like?

Overall working as a full–time graphic designer was a good experience! I believe part of life is introducing yourself to as many things as possible, so you know what aligns with your lifestyle and what doesn’t. Sometimes, the things that don’t align give you a better idea of what does.

After working a little over two years as a full–time graphic designer it became pretty obvious I’m not made for a 40–hour desk job. I need more variety week–to–week in order to continue growing. The world is too large to sit in the same space with the same people (as awesome as they are) day–in and day–out. I’m glad I did it though because it helped give me direction as well as additional skills.

Working part–time as a graphic designer as I use my ‘off days’ to become more established as an artist has been such a blessing. Sigma actually changed my role at the company a bit when I went part–time. Now, I’m focusing on projects that allow me to utilize my fine art skills as well as design. It’s a much better fit and I’m really excited for the world to see what we’re creating.

“Creativity is non–linear. Somedays it is bountiful and I can hardly keep up and other days things come more slowly.”

Any tips on how to manage your work day successfully?

At the beginning of the week I make a list of items that should be completed by the following weekend. I then make a schedule noting all meetings/time specific events and work the items from the list in around them. This helps me be efficient with my time and stay on task.

Guilty pleasure?

Staying in on Friday nights instead of going out and just being. Too often I am a human ‘doing’ and it’s easy to get burned out! Also, from time to time I throw on a mud mask in the morning and keep it on while painting. Sometimes I forget it’s on and surprise myself!

Favorite way to unwind after a long day at work?
Working out! I’ve tried doing it in the morning and it just isn’t the same. Recently, I read a study on how morning people’s strength remains consistent throughout the day while night owl’s become stronger as the day progresses. If you like to stay up late, feel free to use that as an excuse to hit the snooze button.

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