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Leigh Peterson

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

I'm what happens when an artistically inclined biologist can't decide what she wants to be when she grows up.

My first career was in Wildlife Biology. “Who cares!” you yell (stop yelling!) Well, here’s why you should care—a background in both the arts and science has given me a unique approach to design—it has honed my analytical thinking, and encouraged practical real-world solutions to design problems. Also I can tell you about mitosis. Kidding, I don’t remember anything about mitosis anymore.

Before going solo almost four years ago, I had worked in both large and small agencies—a gamut of experience that has allowed me to wear many hats, and work with global brands, across a variety of mediums in both the analogue and digital realm.

Now I work out of my home office in Vancouver to deliver print and digital projects for clients large and small, from coast to coast.

Relevant personally, but not professionally:

  • I ride motorcycles.
  • I ride motorcycles over long distances—to the Yukon, to the Grand Canyon, and across southern Africa. So far.
  • If you’re into the whole Myers-Briggs thing, apparently I’m an INFJ (and just to be clear, I put the ‘i’ in ‘introvert’).

What I do:

  • websites—with the breadth of content management systems and themes available, very few websites these days are hand-coded (phew)—this is most of the web design that I do—skinning, branding and populating WordPress themes.
  • branding—logos, brand environment, brand guidelines, collateral, etc.
  • print materials—you name it, I’ve probably done it
  • infographics—you’re nobody until an infographic loves you
  • app design—no, I’m not an app programmer, but I will design the hell out of an app
  • package design—admittedly an area where my experience is somewhat thinner, but of immense interest to me

What I don’t do:

  • marketing—I have no interest in it, and I have no experience in it. I can design your marketing materials, but I don’t do marketing itself.
  • advertising—See above re: marketing.
  • digital strategy—By this I don’t mean web design and usability, but overall strategy regarding online presence. If you’re looking someone to put together an overall digital strategy for you, I highly recommend Rachel Segal—wise beyond her years and a pleasure to collaborate with.
  • SEO—Beyond installing an SEO plugin on your already SEO-friendly WordPress installation, I don’t dabble in search engine optimization, nor do I want to. Have your marketing professional to do that for you.
  • programming—The only programming I do is light HTML/CSS customization on the WordPress sites that I skin. I don’t hand-code sites from scratch anymore (there is very little need to do this anymore with the breadth of customizable templates out there). I also don’t write mobile apps (but I know someone who does, so if you need a designer-programmer duo for a mobile/web app, contact me).
  • heavy illustration—I say heavy because of course I get into doing light illustration for infographics and other design—things like icons, logos, diagrams, etc. What I mean is I probably don’t want to illustrate the children’s book you’re penning. I love illustrating, and I’m not even half bad at it, but it’s just not what I do and I’m not quick at it. You’re much better off hiring a professional illustrator.
  • banner ads—If you’re hiring me to do your overall brand and materials associated, I’ll design your banner ads, but if you’re contacting me just to do banner ads—no thank you.
  • copywriting—While reasonably competent at stringing sentences together, I am not a writer. You’d be much better served by hiring a writing professional to produce copy for your project if it’s not something you can tackle in-house. (I highly recommend Hayden Jackson if you need copywriting—she’s funny, smart, and an absolute delight to work with.)

Have something in mind that you don’t see on this list? Ask!

Hey—you made it all the way through all that! Want more? Sheesh, okay. Check out the section on working with me, how I like to work, the questions I’m frequently asked, and testimonials where people I’ve paid handsomely say nice things about me.

So what’s the deal with “Justafrog”?

When I was going to design school, one of our assignments in drawing class was to draw whatever we wanted—the only requirement was for it to be in colour. So, being a fan of animals and biology (see: that time Leigh got a Biology degree), I rendered a tree frog in coloured pencils. My instructor was underwhelmed. While he agreed the technical skills were impressive, he was disappointed that I didn’t do something crazy with it, like wrapping it King Kong style around the side of a building. He said: It’s just a frog. It will only ever be just a frog. As an animal lover with a Biology background, I didn’t really see this as a problem. I mean, have you ever SEEN a frog? They’re cool as hell!

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the fundamental difference between design and art. I would never be a successful artist because I always needed to have a problem to solve. There is always an objective in design, while art can be successful simply for the sake of itself. I also realized that I really liked parameters—I was actually far more successful when I had them. Simply telling me to draw whatever I wanted in colour wasn’t enough to pull the good stuff out of me. Design has an audience, an objective, constraints, considerations. This is why I’m a far better designer than I am an artist. Justafrog is a little nod to that, and a reminder that while I took a twisty road to get here (see: Leigh rides motorcycles), I ended up in the right place.

Leigh elsewhere: