• UO Interviews: Creative Workspaces


    As much as we’re constantly inspired by the work of artists, entrepreneurs, and designers, we’re equally curious about the places where they create. Take a trip with us to the workspaces of four NYC creatives to see how they set up their space, discover their desktop supply staples, and get their tips for fueling the creative process.
    Photos by Julia Robbs



    Claire Esparros
    Age: 24
    Hometown: New Orleans
    Current neighborhood: Williamsburg
    Job/Current projects: Lead Photographer & Photo Director at Homepolish (I also run their Instagram account!)



    What are the top five essentials in your daily working process:
    1. My camera gear
    2. Pocket notebook
    3. Sticky notes for jotting down miscellaneous brain spurts
    4. Poppin paperweight pen
    5. Headphones


    What time of day do you work most efficiently?
    First thing in the morning and late at night

    Are you a list maker? If so, can you share the topics of some recent lists?
    Ha, yes. Definitely. I’m an Aquarius and someone once told me I can blame my OCD list-making on that. I use Trello (a list-making app) to manage my to-do lists for work (projects to edit, ideas to discuss, etc.), but I also keep lists for my personal life (immediate to-do’s/errands to run, restaurants to try, concerts to attend, trips to plan, things to treat myself to, etc.)


    Can you share more about your workspace?
    This nook is in my apartment in Brooklyn. I typically work out of the Homepolish office, but I like to work from home sometimes for a change of pace. I keep my space clean and tidy, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to organize the bajillion things going on in my brain. But it also feels cozy and homey, with some personal touches (like the ridiculous pics of me and my family and coworkers) to remind me to chill out if I’m feelin’ stressed or overwhelmed.

    Do you listen to music while you work? What’s on rotation currently?
    Always! Lately, the new Ratatat album, “Best On,” by Tei Shi, “Blue,” by Marina and the Diamonds, “Indian Summer,” by Jai Wolf, “Roses,” by the Chainsmokers and “Weight in Gold,” by Gallant. The entire Lucius album. And for a guilty pleasure power boost? The Fifth Harmony album. Literally on repeat. Not ashamed.


    What’s your biggest tip for productivity?
    Setting goals and giving myself timeframes to accomplish them, then rewarding myself with a small treat or little break once I’m done. I like to start each day by physically writing down what I’d like to get done for the day, then taping it in front of my face to keep me motivated. Physically getting to cross items off my list provides a visceral satisfaction that motivates me to keep slaying goals.

    What is your favorite working pick-me-up?
    When it’s warm out, I’m hooked on my homemade cold brew with coconut milk. When it’s cold, black coffee all day long.


    What are some future projects you’re most excited about?
    I just photographed the most amazing two-story townhouse in Bed-Stuy with one of my favorite Homepolish designers and some seriously cool clients. It was one of those spaces where every inch was considered and cool. The underside of the exposed skeleton stairs was painted teal! And in the nook under those stairs was the cutest/hippest lil record nook. Those photos will be fun to edit. I also shot an office space (Ghostly Ferns) in Gowanus that was essentially a converted attic. It was REAL tiny but got the most beautiful light and made me feel like I was in a totally bad ass treehouse, but like where people did really cool stuff and got paid for it. That will go live on the Homepolish Magazine soon.

    What’s your mantra?
    “Yolo.” I would say I’m joking, but I’m not. It’s to the point and very effective. If you’re laughing at/judging me, try it out next time you are conflicted and can’t make a decision. Literally say it out loud and watch: the answer you’re looking for will slap you right in the face. You’re welcome in advance. (But also I love the Jennet Liaw print above my desk that reads “Stay humble, hustle hard.” It’s a good one.)

    Who are your role models?
    My mom, Beyonce, Jane Goodall, Dorothea Lange, Sacagawea, my three-time breast cancer surviving grandmother, and whoever invented dark chocolate covered almonds.

    Follow Claire on Instagram


    Amardeep S.
    Age: Mid-twenties
    Hometown: Queens, NY
    Current neighborhood: Ridgewood (A different part of Queens, NY)
    Job/Current projects? Way too many things. I’ve been working on a creating a peer-to-peer magazine trading website since that’s a thing I’ve wanted to exist for a long while, but it’s proven a bit more difficult to bust out without a bunch of cash to throw at development. I also just released a book / zine of some personally significant photos I took in 2014, titled I Definitely Learned a Lot. Outside of my side projects, I’m the lead designer and creative director for a shipping startup in New York which is launching very soon – I’m super excited about it. My coworkers are all rad people and I have a ton of creative freedom to push things in the direction I think they’re best going in, so as a designer who’s used to push-back from freelance clients, it’s been really nice mentally to have all this support in following my instincts. Also as someone who’s shipped some-thousand packages in my lifetime, I feel like I know a good idea in this field when I see one, and this is a good idea.



    What are the top five essentials in your daily working process?
    It's super nerdy but I recently got an upright mouse for my computer and that's been a revolutionary tool for my work. Aside from that, I'm pretty anal about stationery so I've kind of dialed in to a "kit" for myself — I have a A5 Rollbahn notebook and only really write with this one Uniball pen + marker hybrid I found in Japan a couple years ago. When I went back this past winter I bought a whole bunch of them so I'm set for a while, along with these neat Mitsubishi pencils I bought from a guy in a park in Osaka. That and some big noise-canceling Audio-Technica headphones, since this is still New York and all.

    What time of day do you work most efficiently?
    For design work, it's either late morning to mid-afternoon when any grogginess or morning glaze would’ve worn off, or super late in the evening. With photo work it's almost always after 11pm — there's definitely something in the quietness of 11pm-3am that makes it a way more straightforward process to select and edit photos. I guess just 11-3 on both sides of the clock are my best hours.



    Are you a list maker? If so, can you share the topics of some recent lists?
    I’ve realized I have a tendency to make pretty nebulous lists, so specific list topics are tough. Sometimes I'll be really into to-do lists and take that very seriously for a while (to the point where I want to create a to-do list app because I can't stand any of the thousand existing ones), but usually I'm just jotting down funny or oddly insightful thoughts or quotes. I have a decent list going right now of what I think I’d call “positive pseudo-motivationals.” I’m not sure if that name communicates what I want it to communicate though – it’s just a bunch of one-liners with words that sound pleasant together while also having a pretty warm message.

    Can you share more about your workspace?
    We have a pretty tall standing desk and a stool in what would otherwise be our dining room. Being three single guys in their twenties, our household has no use for a dining room right now, so it just naturally turned into the work room. It's tight, I'm really happy with how it's come together. We still don't get as much natural light in there as I'd like, especially considering the living room right next to it and the excess of natural light we have in there, so I'm trying to scheme a system of mirrors and diffusers that'll circumvent that. It probably won't work though.




    Do you listen to music while you work? What’s on rotation currently?
    Always. Right now it's either older soul or funk in the realm of Main Ingredient or Willie Hutch, or pretty aggressive new hip hop in the realm of Meek Mill or Travis Scott.

    What’s your biggest tip for productivity?
    Listen to a lot of aggressive hip hop. Also, having a good tea setup always makes me feel better about working, which in turn makes me more productive. The two in tandem is a very off combination but it gets me into a good work groove.

    What is your favorite working pick-me-up?
    Chocolate milk is where it’s at. Or donuts. Sugar as a substance in general is pretty great.



    What are some future projects you’re most excited about?
    I was in Japan for three months from this past December to March and have a ton of photos from that time that I need to pare down — I'm really excited to try and turn that into my first real book since I feel like the work is a very good representation of my photography (and myself), and captures a very meaningful time period in my life. I'm now getting to the point where I'm starting to look into publishers that would be up to help print it. 
    I also want to start a small design studio of sorts which would work on an entirely local, barter-only basis. Kind of like trading my services to people who can’t afford to hire a designer in exchange for small things like coffee or lunch, which would skyrocket my quality of life.

    What’s your mantra?
    Get weird, often.

    Who are your role models?
    Drizzy!

    Follow Amardeep on Instagram


    Meghann Stephenson
    Age: 24
    Hometown: Mclean, Virginia
    Current neighborhood: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
    Job/Current projects: Freelance Illustrator & Co-founder/Designer at Vacation



    What are the top five essentials in your daily working process?
    Computer, mechanical pencil, Arches Hot Pressed Watercolor Paper, Winsor & Newton watercolor tubes, and very tiny watercolor brushes.

    What time of day do you work most efficiently? 
    Late afternoon

    Are you a list maker? If so, can you share the topics of some recent lists? 
    I make a lot of to-do lists. My most recent list was of ingredients for the carnitas I made this morning.  



    Can you share more about your workspace?
    My workspace is pretty small; I share a desk with my boyfriend in our bedroom. He’s a musician with a lot of equipment so we try to share the space evenly and stay as organized as possible. It works pretty well because we usually aren’t working the same hours. I like to work in a really happy and natural environment. The room gets a lot of sunshine and is filled with plants. I also like to keep things around that inspire me or just make me happy. I have a few prints, like my favorite vintage Playboy cover, and things I found while traveling hung on the walls. My favorite part of my workspace is the vintage Eames DCM chairs we restored. 

    Do you listen to music while you work? What’s on rotation currently?
    I don’t normally listen to music while I work. I like to put on Netflix, Radiolab, or This American Life and zone out.




    What’s your biggest tip for productivity?
    Find projects that you’re genuinely excited about. 

    What is your favorite working pick-me-up?
    The citrus, ginger, and cayenne juice from Juice Press.

    What’s your mantra?
    Treat yo’self!




    Do you keep a mood board (physical or digital)? If so, what are some current items on it? 
    I keep a digital inspiration file that I’m constantly adding images to. I also like making more specific mood boards for projects I work on. They usually include a lot of mid century design, Japanese matchboxes, souvenir jackets, denim, and more than likely at least one image of Jane Birkin. 

    Who are your role models?
    Joan Didion, Jane Birkin, Linda Rodin, Roxane Gay, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Hannah Henderson, Stevie Dance.

    Follow Meghann on Instagram



    Kathleen Tso and Vicki Ho
    Ages: 25 and 26, respectively
    Hometown: Kathleen is from Allen, Texas. Vicki is from Brooklyn, NY
    Current neighborhood: Kathleen is in Chinatown, NYC. Vicki is in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn
    Job/Current projects: Together we started a bi-annual print magazine, Banana. Banana focuses on contemporary Asian culture by creating a platform that explores the blurred lines between Eastern and Western boundaries.



    What are the top five essentials in your daily working process? 
    Our top five essentials include our laptops, Instagram for daily inspiration, a good playlist, our Google Drive to keep stories organized, and a spicy round of Micheladas.

    What time of day do you work most efficiently? 
    Late afternoons, definitely after a second round of coffee!

    Are you list makers? If so, can you share the topics of some recent lists? 
    Yes! Lists keep us organized and sane! Recent ones include a roundup of cool Asians, story ideas for future issues, and new music to check out.


    Can you share more about your workspace? 
    We work from Kathleen’s apartment in Chinatown, the home to our magazine’s inspiration. It’s usually a lot of ideas and story drafts scattered on our table, with some kind of cheese plate in between it all (for fuel!) Kathleen is a hardcore toy collector so there’s usually a few trolls or Minion collectibles lying around.

    Do you listen to music while you work? What’s on rotation currently? 
    Yes! Usually a lot of old school hip hop and R&B mixed with current jams. We’ve been on a Fetty Wap and Ja Rule kick recently. 




    What’s your biggest tip for productivity? 
    Knowing when to take a break is important. We usually go out for a drink and brainstorm that way or just walk around the neighborhood. It’s easier to find inspiration and story ideas when you’re relaxed.

    What is your favorite working pick-me-up?
    It’s a toss up between iced almond lattes and Micheladas. We usually go for both!

    What are some future projects you’re most excited about? 
    We’re currently working on issue 2 of Banana. It’ll be coming out late fall! 



    What’s your mantra? 
    It’s all about the follow through. 

    Who are your role models? 
    Our moms. Mama Tso and Mama Ho!

    Follow Banana Mag on Instagram

    Shop Poppin desk supplies