Caroline De Vita is a talented graphic designer, illustrator, painter and mother of two. She doesn’t have a lot of spare time. She does have an enviable home office custom built by her husband. We caught her during a rare break to talk about all the ins and outs of working from home.
How long have you worked from home…and where is ‘home’? I’ve worked from home for about 12 years. My home now is in a little house in Los Angeles’ Westside city of Mar Vista, and I’m working out of a 200 square foot office my husband built for me in our backyard when I was pregnant with our first child.
What does an average work day involve? After walking home from dropping off my son at preschool, I make coffee while my computer starts up, check emails, make phone calls and start whatever jobs I’m currently working on. I am usually starving my 12:00, so I take a quick lunch and get back to work until 4:30, when I pick the kids up. If I have a deadline, I work remotely from a computer in the house while fixing dinner and watching the kids, 3 and 5. I pop back into the office after the kids are in bed if I still have work to finish.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you and helps you in your work? I love my Wacom writing tablet. I illustrate as well as design, so it’s very useful for line drawings. It has a pressure sensitive pad, so I can manipulate the line weights to look like I’m using a japanese brush. My scanner is useful and inspiring because I scan just about anything I find, paper, leaves–anything, manipulate it and use it as a texture in my illustrations or as a graphic in my design work, and sometimes I just prefer to write or draw with a japanese pen or calligraphy pen on paper so I need to scan those into Photoshop.
As a graphic designer you’ve got multiple clients – large and small. How do you organize your space? I’m thinking here of your physical space but also your virtual space? This is probably not the best solution, but for virtual organization, I use Entourage Calendar to remind myself through pop up ‘reminders’ of due dates, etc. For physical organizing, I have a small rolling file next to my desk with files for each client. Anything that has to do with a particular job I’m working on goes into that client’s folder, no matter what it is. Every month I go through the rolling file and take out whatever jobs are finished and put into my ‘deep file’ cabinet on the other side of the office, to make room for upcoming jobs.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? Besides my computer, I can’t do without my drawing pad, brush pens and Uniball micro roller pen. Drawing and doodling helps free my mind of clutter and can sometimes inspire me.
What piece of office furniture do you love? Which would you like to replace? I love my old metal office desk and my Aeron Chair. The desk is the right size for me and I like how solid it is, the little bit of history behind it, and that I got my hands dirty taking care of refinishing it myself. I like the way my chair looks and how incredibly comfortable it is.
I don’t think there’s anything I’d like to replace, but I’d like to put up shelves on the wall to my right so I can easily see items that inspire me. Right now I have to turn around to look at my books and things I bought while traveling. I like warm things, like wood and clay.
What inspires you? Old, worn books, looking out my office window at our tall Australian paper bark trees, books I’m reading ….It really depends on where my head is at the time. Right now, I’m inspired by Shakespeare, Johnny Cash, Van Gogh, watching my 5-year old daughter draw her detailed, imaginative scenes, the intensity of playing in my Sunday soccer games!