Queen multitasker Alisa Wolfson is head of the Department of Design at Leo Burnett. Co-president of Chicago’s AIGA chapter. Design director of Lampo, an experimental music nonprofit. Award-winning designer. Sought-after speaker. Design 50 inductee. Adventurous spirit. Mighty presence on Chicago’s social and civic scenes. And full-time mom.
What’s your creative process?
I describe my life as “everything all at once, all the time.” I’m involved in a bunch of different projects that always seem to be due at the same time. Sometimes I build a huge campaign at work, then come home and build a fort with my daughter on the living-room floor. Either way, I’m equally engaged.
For inspiration, I rarely consult design books or blogs. Much of the work I am most proud of comes from inspiration out in the world or something I see at home. These days, I’m drawn to things my daughter is learning or doing.
I like to work fast and talk through ideas. But once I see a solution, I’m ready to go. Finding time to do things is always challenging. By the time I get to the actual making of things, I feel pretty comfortable with the idea and how it might come to be. I push myself to experiment. Even if the eventual solution is minimal.
Mostly, I try to have fun. Earlier in my career I took things very seriously. I worried about too many things that really didn’t matter. I’d get kind of panicked and feel terrible at the start of a project. It took me a long time to realize how I do things. It’s my way of doing and seeing, and that is OK.
I think about projects constantly and I “prototype” solutions in my head. Eventually I start to sketch, do a quick layout and then try tons of versions.
To me, it’s essential to work on things for “work” and “personal” in tandem. They are constantly informing each other. I love the overlap. It’s the ultimate way to make something. If I’m not doing stuff on my own, I’m usually working with a friend or my husband.
It is all at once: linear and organic, planned and unplanned, additive and subtractive, collaborative and solo. So, the way I make work is sometimes undefinable, but somehow things always find a way of happening just the way I imagine. (Brenda Bergen)