Independent Digital Designer


GraceWalker (Independent Digital Designer)

Grace is an independent designer based in Calgary, Canada. She designs and builds websites that are visually stunning and technically sound.

She/Her • Calgary, Canada • April 17, 2024

What led you into design?

I loved collecting visual material when I was young. Brochures, magazines, stickers, pretty much anything beautiful that I could hold. I had folders full of these amazing little pieces that I knew were special and didn’t want to part with. I grew to love my art class in school and had a wonderful teacher who introduced the possibilities of graphic design. As soon as I knew that it was a career option, and connected the dots that graphic designers were the ones who created all the visual things I had loved so much, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

I studied graphic design at OCADU in Toronto - I absolutely loved school. I did a lot of different things in university, and at my first studio job, I narrowed my focus to web design and development. I was really lucky to work in a small studio where I got to touch everything and was trusted to execute projects even when I was very new.

What does a typical day look like?

After coffee and breakfast, I like to dive straight into work. I have a multi-day to-do list that I keep up to date at all times so that I know what I have to get done each day. I try to make sure the list is updated every evening so I feel calm about the next day.

I typically try to split my days into ‘busy days’ and ‘focus days’. As an independent designer, I always have a long list of tasks to tackle, but the context switching can be draining. Allowing myself to have ‘busy days’ where I try to tackle as much as possible has allowed me to make space for ‘focus days’ where I only worry about one thing. Focus days are for deep work like research, visual design, and development.

Every day the work is different, but it usually involves spending time in Figma, Webflow, Zoom, Email, Twitter, Notion, and sketching.

I usually finish up work around 5 or 6 and then relax a bit. Evenings are active time. In the summer my husband and I are usually on bikes or running trails, and in the winter we’re spending time in our basement gym or running through snowy streets.

What's your workstation setup?

My setup consists of an Ergonofis desk, Herman Miller Cosm chair, Macbook, LG Monitor, Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard. I also always have a grid paper pad out for to-do lists and wireframes.

Where do you go to get inspired?

Recently I’ve been really inspired by projects that deal with complex, technical products. When you’re dealing with a complex subject matter, there is so much to dive into for inspiration. I’m currently working with a cleantech company that has a really interesting technology solution - the look and feel was inspired by the chemical process that is central to their solution. It’s been so rewarding to explore how to create a visual world for them that accurately explains their technology, but also has abstract elements inspired by the details of their solution.

With some reflection, I realized recently that most my favourite projects have a common thread. The projects I am most inspired by are with companies pursuing new frontiers - building new technology, working to make the world a better place, and changing what we consider 'possible'. If a project is at the edge of a new frontier, the inspiration comes naturally.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

The Addidas Adizero Adios Pro 3. As I’ve gotten more into running in the last few years, I’ve also gotten into running shoes. Performance race shoes across the board are so interesting - they are this amazing blend of function and beauty, designed to be as light as possible. A shoe can obviously be a very simple thing, but turning that simple thing into something designed for performance is really neat. There is such a small amount of real estate available to pack in as much functionality as possible - every piece of the shoe has a purpose. A super-thin mesh upper, outsole designed for cornering, and probably the coolest feature of all, carbon rods that mimic the bone structure of the foot to maximize energy return. Not to even get into the aesthetics and layering that make them beautiful. I don't even own these - I just think they are so cool.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

I’m always the most proud of the project I most recently finished. I’m constantly pushing myself to improve and try new things, and I try to incorporate something new in every project I do. That newness requires learning, and with that learning comes pride. With every site I launch I catch myself saying “this is one of my favourites”, and honestly it’s true.

I’m also particularly proud of self-directed work like my course Fast Forward Freelance. The course is a collection of everything I wish I would have known in the first year of freelancing. I’m proud of the content and effort it took to bring to life, but also very proud of the fact that I built the course platform myself using Webflow and Memberstack. I challenged myself to build something from scratch instead of using a ready-made platform - launching it has been incredibly fulfilling.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

One of my consistent challenges with work is deciding what work to take on - there are so many amazing opportunities out there, but as a solo designer, I have limited capacity. Over the last year I’ve been more precisely defining what kind of work I enjoy, am good at, and have an impact on my clients. There are so many things I am excited about working on, and it’s not always easy to narrow down what I want to pursue.

What music do you listen to while designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

“Patience is also a form of action” is one of my favourite reminders. You could be doing everything right - designing good work, making strong connections, sharing regularly - but sometimes things just take time. Take pride in your work, assume the best in others, and act with kindness, and the rest will take care of itself.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

I recently launched a course called Fast Forward Freelance that compiles everything I wish I had known when I started freelancing. The reception and reviews have been incredible, and it’s immensely rewarding to see the impact it's had on other independent creatives. I’m opening registration once per quarter in 2024.

Even with a new venture into teaching and sharing my knowledge online, my client work remains my main focus. My most recent work is always available at