Laura Prpich

Owner, Caribou Creative

19 years experience

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Caribou Creative is a comprehensive design studio based in Courtenay, British Columbia. Founded by Laura Prpich in 2010, she works with individuals and businesses to bring ideas to life through strategic communication and thoughtful design.

What’s the first thing you do every morning to start your day?

I make a pot of coffee, put my hair in a bun and walk my disgruntled wiener dog Glen through the quiet forest behind my house on Vancouver Island.

Who do you consider to be an inspiring woman (alive or otherwise)?

I’m a big Patti Smith fan. She’s just so undoubtedly herself—a quality I deeply admire. 

And if I had to choose a female designer I adore? Ray Eames, a true pioneer in this field. 

I also hope to one day be half as cool as Alison Mosshart. She’s ethereal.

Describe your design process.

I’ve been working as a graphic designer for 19 years (the past nine working for myself), so my process has become quite streamlined as a result of a lot of trial and error. With that said, I’m still always finding ways to stay more organized and to improve where I can.

I primarily work for small, independent businesses from around the globe that have some sort of vested interest in sustainability. If my pricing, process, and timelines align with theirs, then I consider us a good match. I spend a lot of time researching, exploring competitor markets, and figuring out how to differentiate. Then I sketch until I have something I can take over to the computer and begin working with.

What inspires your work (professional or personal)?

Simple everyday life keeps me inspired and motivated to do this job. I’ve worked in so many facets of design over the years, and having realized that design is truly everywhere keeps me confident in knowing I’ll never be bored. I feel pretty lucky that I get paid to do what I love; not many can say that.

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What project are you most proud of?

It’s usually whichever one I just completed.

What is your personal or professional motto/philosophy?

Stay humble, be kind, put your head down and do the work.

What’s the boldest thing you’ve ever done in your professional life?

Be myself. 

But seriously, the more I’ve put myself out there and stayed true to who I am, the better my work has become. This hasn’t come without experience and the drive to do (and to be) better.

What does success mean to you?

Career-wise, I suppose it would mean having people see the value in what I do. I strive to make a big impact on my clients’ businesses to help them grow and succeed... and in turn I do too.

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Name a fear or professional challenge that keeps you up at night.

You know, the strange thing is that I thought starting a business would be the scariest, most stressful thing in the world, but it really hasn’t been. Life just has a weird way of working itself out, and I sort of feel like I’m just along for the ride. That’s not to say I haven’t put in the grunt work and sacrificed a lot to get where I am, but worrying? That just doesn’t do anyone any good.

Reminding myself that I’m a designer (and not a brain surgeon) helps too.

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently when starting?

It would have been nice to have a thicker skin at the beginning of my career, but I think you need to take a few gut punches to get you where you’re going, so I don’t think I would’ve changed too much.

What’s your favourite thing to do when you come home?

Make supper with my husband while my dog drools on the floor. Then take a bath, drink a glass of wine and read a really great book (AKA: not work).

How would you design the ideal creative workspace?

A strong internet connection, my laptop and a ticket around the world.

What about the current state of graphic design could you do without?

Designers deeming themselves as ‘experts’ and writing blogs, making tutorials, creating e-books and starting podcasts that spew the same regurgitated jargon we’ve heard a zillion times (often without the experience or knowledge to qualify as ‘expert’ advice).

What are your plans for the future?

I’m at a really nice, cushy place in my career, and I hope to stay there for a bit. I love teaching and mentoring, so I will continue to do that. I would also like to add a bit more travelling and speaking engagements to my roster in 2020.

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