Christine Lieu is the expert behind CL Designs. She’s a graphic designer and efficiency coach, who’s traded in climbing the corporate ladder for climbing mountains around the world. Saying no to dull and clunky visuals and yes to consistency, creativity and efficiency forms the core of her approach.
We asked Christine all about her dream job
What is your official title? Do you have one?
I believe we all have multi-hyphenated roles and we aren’t defined by one thing anymore. If I had to sum one up, it would be a creative entrepreneur as it has lead me to pursuing my design business CL Designs and other passions such as efficiency coaching.
How did you get into your current line of work?
It was honestly a very natural progression. My passion for live music and band merchandising exposed me to a world of expressive visuals growing up. I wanted to help create identities and designs that would inspire my local community and it lead me to create my first business, a streetwear apparel brand called In Lieu Of. I had learned a lot about the fashion and design world in those few years and then always found myself working with other freelance clients along the way. Having earned my stripes in the fast-paced media world, and learned first-hand the challenges faced by startups through my own journey (sometimes the hard way!) I wanted to provide lean and efficient design and branding services that would free businesses to push on with what they’re best at. Since then, I’ve traded in climbing the corporate ladder to climbing mountains around the world.
Did you go to school for your dream job?
I went to university for my Bachelors in Design (graphic design) and if someone had asked me during my educational journey if I would end up doing this after I graduated, I may have said no genuinely. But being curious, getting to connect genuinely with people and to create was always at the forefront of what I knew I’d do with my career. I’m happy to say that by being happy, I’ve gotten to create some great with some wonderful clients and am able to support my lifestyle with my dream job to design and travel.
Is this a job that you applied for or did you create it for yourself?
Having worked in the media industry with Rogers and CBC and also having experienced the start-up world, it gave me perspective to see the different and yet similar needs that each company experiences. I knew that I wanted to value my time and connections and that was up to me to create the opportunity for myself.
What was your first ever job?
My first job was at a retirement home as a server. I was honestly spoiled; being surrounded by food and sweet people as well as being able to walk to work and to only work a few hours at a time.
Before you started your dream job, what was the best job you had?
I love how agile, intimate, and perseverant the start-up world is. Working as an assistant for a tech startup was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. My boss was an incredibly intelligent and humble mentor. He’s shown me what real leadership looks like through his perseverance, dedication, support, autonomy, and empathy. These traits are what I aspire to create with my team and with collaborators. Having worked on design, marketing, research and more, both in Toronto as well as in New York allowed me to improve my skills and grow personally and professionally while having the opportunity to travel.
What was your worst ever job?
I definitely have had my fair share of projects as a graphic designer that I would rather not have had happened. I’ve been accused of not putting in the hours I’ve slaved over my computer for to being low-balled for my services even after I’ve gone above and beyond for clients. As much as the client is choosing you to work with, I believe that you have to consider it the other way as well to mutually find the best fit for each other’s needs. Every moment can be used as a learning opportunity (sometimes the hard way!).
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Every day I wake up excited to get to work with the clients that I do and the projects we’re working towards. Their success is my success too. But if I were to choose another path, I would likely be doing something with food or travel since it’s another creative outlet I’m truly passionate about.
What is your proudest achievement?
My time with the Maclean’s team was absolutely incredible and a huge learning curve. I was working 12+ hour days sometimes between Walmart and Maclean’s in order to design their BULLDOG Election Daily iPad and mobile publication during the 2015 Canadian election. I had recently graduated and had never designed for iPad or mobile before and I just dived right in. I had the best mentorship and ownership in the work I was creating on a daily basis. That experience exposed me to a great team dynamic, how to overcome fear and doubt, and to truly persist through hard work and passion.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to find their dream job but hasn’t yet?
I keep coming back to this F. Scott Fitzgerald quote as it really resonates with this leap of faith: “For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” Start. It is possible. Do what makes you happy and know that’s more than enough.