Lisa de Nikolits – Art Director and Author of The Hungry Mirror

As an art director, Lisa de Nikolits has worked on some of the biggest women’s consumer titles out there; Vogue Australia, marie claire South Africa, Cosmopolitan Australia. Current art director of the Air Miles magazine in Toronto, Lisa is also the recent first-time author of the well-received novel The Hungry Mirror, a fictional story about women, the magazine industry, food and body image.

TYPICAL THURSDAY

6.03 am: Alarm rings. Hug cat, kiss cat, kiss partner. I tell partner I haven’t slept a wink, he tells me I slept like a log. I think he may be right but being dramatic is much more fun. I shower, dress in black with an accent colour, go with gold or silver eye shadow and pick a fragrance for the day.
6.30 am: Open my laptop and work on a writing project while trying to keep cat off keyboard.
7.21 am: Go downstairs, prepare lunch, give the cat treats and head out the door.
7.43 am: Stand in line at Tim Hortons in the Rogers building to get an extra large coffee with milk and three sweeteners, one chocolate Timbit.
7.50 am: Arrive at desk, delint cat hair off clothes.
8.03 am: Eat breakfast (with Timbit for dessert), fire up design programs and check the hit list for the day; designing, photo-researching, meetings. We’re doing a travel feature on Mexico in the upcoming issue and the images are so great, I want to go there now. During the course of day, I try to drink a fair amount of water and various kinds of green tea. Many fluids ensure a lot of washroom visits, which I like because I get to chat en route to fellow workers and friends from other departments and magazines. My email inbox has a steady stream of messages and I jump back and forth between programs and tasks.
12.53 pm: Go down to lunchtime Hatha yoga.
1.03 pm: Breathe. I love this peaceful change of pace.
2.03 pm: Back at desk, eat lunch, eat chocolate, carry on working.
4.03 pm: Log off the computer, head for the subway. On the way home, I try to resist siren call of the Dollar Store. I mostly fail in this regard, in which case, I load up with absolute non-essentials and enough chewing gum to permanently lock my jaw. Passing the grocer in summer months, I often treat myself to a tray of bright seasonal annuals for the garden. Never mind that they always appear to be half dead by the time I get them home and I spend more time digging them up than I do enjoying watching them flourish. On the walk home I listen to songs like Venus by Shocking Blue, My Corrosion by Sisters of Mercy and Evil Jean by Ugress.
5.13 pm: I arrive home and greet the cat with delight. Give the cat some treats. Have fun in the garden and commune with nature and wish that birds actually liked the birdbath. I keep an ear open for strange goings-on in the neighbourhood, of which there are generally many.
6.03 pm: Partner arrives home and I greet him with delight. We chat, prepare supper, light candles, eat supper. I de-shed the cat, or try to. Give the cat treats. I practice classical guitar loudly while my partner is trying to watch hockey. I tidy kitchen, take the laptop to bed and work on writing for half an hour. Then I try to read half a paragraph of an enlightening book before falling asleep.
11.23 pm: Sleep like a log with cat tucked into my shoulder.

P.S. the cat’s name is Isabella Creamy Diva and my partner is Bradford Dunlop. He’s a photographer (www.bradforddunlop.com) and took the pic of Bellie and me.

FIRST JOB OUT OF SCHOOL

Teaching English as a Second Language to 241 sixteen-year-old kids in a place called Eldorado Park just outside of Johannesburg. It was so cold, they’d light fires in the trashcans to stay warm. At tea time, I would run my hands under the hot water in the washroom to try warm up. All the teachers drank a lot of coffee thick with Condensed Milk to try to stay warm. South Africa can be much colder than a lot of people think.

WHAT ARE THE THREE SKILLS YOU REQUIRE MOST TO DO YOUR JOB WELL?

1. A passion for design, the ability to get enthusiastic about the smallest detail and the computer skills to make it all happen.
2. An enjoyment of the fast-paced environment.
3. Good communication skills and the firm belief that people are truly fascinating.

DO YOU HAVE ANY WARNINGS?

When I was much younger, my father once told me I was the only person he knew who burnt her bridges in front of her. He was correct, I did. Hint: It’s not a good idea! I thought I could take on the world single-handedly – but it’s not practical or personable. So, network and treat everybody as if you might one day be asking them to for the job of your dreams.

A DIFFERENT CAREER FOR A YEAR

I would do something that involved other people in a social-minded way. I have loved magazines for as long as I can remember, and I love novel writing with the same passion but neither of these helps society in the same direct way that a volunteer would, with street kids for example. I’d like to do something more directly, immediately helpful for the world, particularly with teenagers or young adults.

www.lisadenikolitsdesign.com – for career portfolio
www.lisadenikolitswriter.com – for reader comments and reviews of The Hungry Mirror
http://bit.ly/aFk37p – for Lisa doing a book reading on YouTube

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