One thing has been constant over the last 20 years in the industry that have seen computers, operating systems, fonts and printing processes come and go, the graphic designer’s most important assistant: Tea.
Sitting in front of a computer for 20 years can take it’s toll. Taking an occasional break is sometimes frowned on by customers, or management, so a healthy addiction to tea is of great use to the budding designer, as it excuses the occasional stretching of the legs, provides a brief change of scene, gives a reason to start a short social interaction with co-workers, and of course gives a fluid intake to counteract the drying effect of being in the continual presence of hot dusty machinery.
Here are the rules of office tea, presented as a guide for budding designers:
1. When you start your first job as an office junior, immediately offer to make tea. Make a round for everyone, but do not do it well, or you will forever be the person called on to make tea, rendering half your day unusable for design projects. Insufficient milk, half measures of sugar, or just plain doing it slowly are good gambits. Only when one’s career has taken off to the point that others will make tea for you is it safe to show any aptitude for the task.
2. Get out of the sugar habit, fast. Sugar slows down the tea-making process and introduces more potential points of failure. When you’ve built up a 10 cup a day habit, two sugars a cup adds up to 300 calories a day.
3. Get your own cup. Unless your workplace is fantastically corporate and has matching crockery cleaned by people you only meet when working late, a large, sturdy cup of your own is as essential as your own font library and a comfy chair.
4. Make tea whenever you need a break, not whenever you need tea. Drink it even if you don’t want it – this saves washing up and gives you an excuse for an extra toilet break later.
5. Waiting for the kettle to boil is a great time to have inspirational thoughts, or to do eye exercises.
6. Beware the demon Coffee. Weapons of mass caffination are tempting, and many a designer on a tight deadline has turned to the old Colombian powder, but that way lies madness (or at least the inability to draw straight lines before 10am). Cappuccino is a powerful stimulant, not a way of life. I try not to drink more than one cup a day, because it’s far to easy to become dependent on caffeine.