Designer Q&A: Serena Tyrrell of Kohi Design Studios

An adept designer, Serena loves creating work that stands out. Read more about her process.

Meet Serena Tyrrell, a dynamic force at Kohi Design Studios. Her designs leave a lasting impression. In this interview we dive into her creative journey and unique design philosophy. See more of Serena’s work at Kohi Design Studio.

Question: What is your design process like? How has it changed as you’ve evolved in your career?

Serena: I always like to begin my design process with a good brainstorming and sketching session. This includes sketches on paper which I’ll later vectorize, brainstorming in Adobe Illustrator, making mood boards, searching for inspiration and doing some market research. I then hop into making rough drafts. And the final step is refining those drafts into the final product! My process has stayed relatively the same over my career, however, I now do more research and brainstorming beforehand. I like to make sure that I understand my client’s target audience and business needs so that ultimately I can offer them a design that truly fits their business!

Tall Grass Covers Sloped Terrain
License the photo via Daniel Brittain

Q: Where do you look for inspiration?

S: My go-to for design inspiration lately has actually been Instagram! There are so many incredible designers posting their work on there and I just love scrolling through my feed or explore page and seeing what’s out there! Whenever I stumble upon a new designer whose work I adore, I make sure to follow them because I want my feed to be filled with people who inspire me! Sometimes, if I’m looking for something specific I’ll search by hashtags which helps. Another place I love going to for inspiration is Behance. I find I gravitate here when I need some packaging design inspiration. The design work I see on there always blows me away! I could easily scroll on there for hours.

Woman Holds A Vase Of Water
License the photo via Jess Brohier

Q: How do you get your head back in the game when you’re feeling burnt out?

S: I have to take a break from designing. Sometimes I only need 1 hour but other times I’ll need 2 weeks to fully reset. Going for a walk, exercising, seeing friends & family, or just relaxing at home helps tremendously. I always come back with a fresh perspective and a boost of inspiration when I do this. I try to remind myself to take small breaks regularly to avoid feeling burnt out but sometimes it just creeps up on me during a busier work period. 

Q: If you can share, what do you think is your ‘secret weapon’ when creating? Please explain how you developed this skill.

S: I think my secret weapon when designing is a combination of the pen tool and pencil tool in Adobe Illustrator. These are probably my favorite tools to use when creating brand identities. I use them to edit the typography, create custom shapes, create illustrations, and more! I was first introduced to these tools while I was studying graphic design in college and ever since then I’ve just been refining my skills. 

Promontories In The Ocean
License the photo via Daniel Brittain

Q: Looking back, what are some hurdles you had to overcome personally that impacted you? They can be big or small.

S: I think fear and nerves have held me back the most in the past. It can be scary to start freelancing with zero knowledge of running your own small business. At the beginning of my freelancing career, I was doing everything for the first time and was really just learning along the way. And that was scary. But facing my fears and overcoming my nerves time after time is what led me to where I am today! To this day, I like to remind myself that doing something that scares me is a positive thing and leads to more growth than I can even expect! I love growing both as a designer and as a person and to do so you always have to try new things and overcome your fears along the way.

Q: What do you like about Stills? How is it a good resource for designers?

S: I really love how unique Still’s photo library is. I feel like the Stills photographers have very unique creative styles and are incredible at visual storytelling. This brings a very high-quality experience as you navigate the photo library. Another thing I absolutely love is the search filters! It really helps to have so many options when it comes to search filters because going through stock photography when you have something specific in mind can be a pain, but I find Stills makes it that much easier! My favorite is being able to search by color with a color wheel. A graphic designer’s dream! 

Explore Serena’s favorite Stills photos in her recently curated Board.

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