Tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are, your background, and your work…

My name is Laura Prpich and I am a graphic designer with over 24 years of experience. I live and work on Vancouver Island, Canada. I founded my business, Caribou Creative, in 2010 and work predominately with independent businesses across the globe that have a vested interest in sustainability or creating a greener solution for their brand.

 

What was it that made you want to pursue a career in graphic design? What about this field were you most drawn to? What was your journey like?

I was fresh out of high school with big dreams of a career in teaching ballet, but quickly realized it wasn’t my calling. My old art teacher recommended that I look into graphic design, as it was a good way to be creative and potentially make a lucrative living. I applied to a few schools, got accepted, and never looked back.

I honestly had no idea what ‘graphic design’ really meant before I started college, but I quickly fell in love with conceptualizing and the strategy behind the result.

I spent the first 10 years of my career intentionally hopping around from agency to agency, working in as many facets of design as I possibly could to ultimately start my own business. The experience and confidence I gained over that decade was integral to Caribou’s growth and success over the past 14 years.

What designers or creative minds influenced you growing up? Has this changed over the recent years? What types of style do you most admire?

I was 14 when I opened an issue of Ray Gun and was enamored by David Carson’s work. The Dada movement really pushed me out of my comfort zone while I was in college, and Stefan Sagmeister was my primary motivator for so many career choices, from starting my own business, implementing the one-concept approach, and taking sabbaticals.

These days, I’m drawn to other freelance designers’ work – from Brian Steely, Kendrick Kidd, Ben Kocinski & Joshua Minnich to name a few. It’s so inspiring to see designers working independently and successfully without the backing of an agency.

 

How would you describe your design aesthetic? What makes your style stand out from other designers/design firms?

When I look at my work, I don’t see a particular ‘style’ so much as what was intended for me to accomplish in the brief. One day it can be bold and minimal, the next day intricate and detailed or hand drawn, but I suppose people gravitate towards my work for a certain aesthetic. Clean maybe? Balanced, I hope.

Perhaps that’s what makes me stand out from other designers/firms – I’m not a one-trick pony and am constantly looking to diversify and grow.

What hobbies or activities are you involved in outside of the design world?

I love to surf, and recently took up mountain biking as I live in one of the best places in the world to ride trails. I generally come home bloody, but it’s fun to push my boundaries and continue to learn. I practice yoga and meditate, and always have a book on the go. I’m learning to paint, which feels scary and so different from design, but it’s good.

  

Where do you draw inspiration from? Are there hobbies that inspire your work?

Inspiration tends to come from everywhere – from my morning walks in the woods with my pup Glen, conversations with friends, seeing bands play, travelling, galleries, books. Projects are always on my mind, and I’m often putting ideas in my back pocket for later.

What is your design process like? Are there things that would surprise us in how you get your work done?

I run a tight ship and would like to think that I have a fool-proof process in place after decades of learning, but in truth, it’s ever-evolving.

I send a brief – and have clients spew out everything, no rocks left unturned before we start. Then about 50% of my time is in researching, coming up with the perfect strategy and position for execution. Then I sketch, very rudimentarily, until something sparks. It’s only then that I head over to the old computer machine to start designing.

People are surprised that I rarely, if ever, meet a client in person.

 

Why did you decide to join LogoLounge?

The work submitted on LogoLounge is always top-notch, and I’m continually pulling out the annual books from my shelves while researching and designing. It’s a pillar in the design community and my go-to for inspiration.

What work or works are you most proud of and why? Did such designs come easier than others?

I tend to get most excited about the project I’m currently working on, or others in the queue. That’s where my motivation and excitement generally sit. Some of my best work has come to me in minutes, while other projects can move slowly and painfully along with no end in sight. This part I can never predict.

  

What or who would be a dream project or client for you?

If The Pixies called me to do their next album cover or some merch I wouldn’t be upset! Or if a great magazine called me to do some illustrative work would be pretty amazing. Wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to paint a mural either, it’s been years since I’ve done one.

Can you tell us about a current project you are working on and how it is going?

I’m just putting the final touches on a rebrand for a coffee shop in Tofino. The reason for the rebrand is new ownership, so we wanted to pay homage to what was done, while breathing new life into the design. I think it went pretty great – the couple I worked with were fantastic and allowed me loads of creative freedom. It’ll launch soonish, and if I had to guess the feedback is going to be mixed – the old brand had a very distinct cult-like following, and we all know change is hard. But it’s a positive push in the right direction – I believe this whole-heartedly.

 

What are some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future?

This year I took a bit of a step back and am working one day less a week to pursue other creative endeavors. This decision didn’t come easy as I’m at a real cushy spot in my career where I get to pick and choose who I work with, and opportunities feel pretty great right now. But I’ve already felt a big shift in my perspective on design and have much more of an appreciation for what I can do because of my time away.

What about design do you like the most and the least?

My favorite thing, hands down, is seeing my clients succeed as a result of good design. Whether it be in an updated logo or new packaging, moving over to e-commerce, or adding signage to a space, they all feel like big wins to me, and I rally in all their successes.

My least favorite thing is having to prove the value of my worth as a designer. It’s just not a conversation I’m willing to have anymore – especially when you can buy a logo off the internet for $5, or better yet just rip one off yourself.

  

What lessons, either about life or your profession, do you wish you had known years ago? What advice would you give to other designers, who are just beginning their career?

I wish I had learned earlier how to separate myself from my work, and not take things too personally. I should have listened more and felt less by focusing on the design wins instead of losses. I was lucky to work on some big campaigns at a very young age and I don’t think I realized how fortunate I was.

My advice to budding designers – put your head down and do the work. Stay humble and open to criticism, especially in the beginning. Align yourself with those that you admire the most, and for the love of Pete, don’t add ‘Creative Director’ to your credentials until you’ve put in the time.

To see more of Laura’s work, check out her LogoLounge here.

You can also see her work by visiting her website here.

Stay tuned next month, as we feature another LogoLounge member.