In-House Survival: 5 Designers Share What Keeps Them Going

We’ve been asking in-house teams lots of questions lately—for instance, about their most frustratingly funny client stories, and all the fun, interesting and challenging things that go on in their in-house design department.

In celebration of HOW’s In-House Design Awards, now we chat with some in-housers about what “survival tools” they and their teams use—basically anything that gets them through the busy day. Check it out, and share your survival tools in the comments!

in-house design teams share what keeps them going

Photo by Chris Adamus

5 In-Housers Share Their Survival Tools

“We like to find different spaces for our meetings.

Sometimes we’ll go outside to a nearby park, a coffee shop, or the American Art Museum (convenient for us, only a few blocks away).”

National parks Conservation Association creative director Annie Riker


“For me it is important to always carry sidearm a source of inspiration that’s not design related. Even though it’s necessary to know what the latest trends are, it is also important to know who I am and what inspires me.

I find inspiration from culture, architecture, music and life experiences. Every time I face big projects, before I start I plan field trips to museums, downtown, botanical gardens, bookstores, etc.”

HousingWire Publishing senior art director Rosangel Torres


“Noise-canceling headphones, kolaches, and chocolate! These keep us sane!”

The Houston Zoo creative director Kirsten Ufer


“Our team is very hands-on with their design approach. We have a lot of inks/brushes/paints/
papers between the four of us that come out often while we are working on a new design. We also have recently stocked up on foil heat transfer paper, which really helps us to make convincing mock-ups that better sell our designs.”

—The Riverhead in-house design team at Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Group (USA)


“JIRA/Confluence, AppleTVs and AirDisplay for internal presentations (and movies in the background from time to time), pencil and paper, Pinterest, design mags, topically relevant well-designed mags, etc.”

DEFY Media director of creative services Greg Huntoon


The In-House Design Awards is all about celebrating your in-house design team’s hard work. Hear what Mandisa Fabris, art director at Robert Half Legal, has to say about her team’s win:

As with most in-house teams, our team handles a lot of work whose primary function is to support the needs of the business and our company. The In-House Design Awards have always been an opportunity for us to showcase the work that we as a team are the most proud of. … Our participation in the In-House Design Awards serves as motivation for our team, inspiring us to push our creativity further every day.

It’s an honor for our team to be recognized and be included in a group of other talented in-house teams. Just as we look for inspiration from others in the industry, we hope that our work in turn inspires others. For us, it means acknowledgement of our work at an industry level and validation of our contributions to the company’s goals and success.