Verified Expert Brand Designer: Lake Buckley

In 2017, Lake Buckley turned down an in-house role at Patagonia to launch her freelance design career in a 400 sq. ft studio in Brooklyn, NY. Since then, the RISD-trained designer and art director has helped founders bring their mission-driven brand to life. We spoke with Lake about why she chose to become an independent designer, what makes a successful client collaboration, and what projects she’s most proud of (hint: one of them involves fig wasps).

Why she likes working with founders:

I think entrepreneurs are less jaded. They’re putting a lot more on the line and so because of that, oftentimes, they’re going to be a bit more awake at the switch, a bit more passionate, and down to do things in a non-traditional way. I really enjoy the level of excitement that they bring to the table because there is no one forcing them to start their own company. It’s coming from a place of genuine belief in their idea. It’s contagious. I think it’s important to maintain a sense that you’re doing things out of choice, not because you’re forced to. I really appreciate that energy coming from founders.

On her ideal client:

“I am excited about companies that care about design and are interested in taking risks and having a unique visual perspective. I love it when there is room to be humorous, bizarre, and slightly whimsical. I have a bold POV, and I look for clients that celebrate that.”

“Lake created an entire illustration system, a photography system, a color system, elements for a tone of voice, and a detailed strategy for deploying each of these elements in harmony.” A media executive in NYC

Below, you’ll find the rest of the founder reviews, the full interview, and more details like pricing and fee structures. This profile is part of our ongoing series covering startup brand designers and agencies with whom founders love to work, based on this survey and our own research. The survey is open indefinitely, so please fill it out if you haven’t already.

The Interview

Yvonne Leow: Can you tell me how you got started in design?

Lake Buckley: I’ve always been a maker. As a kid, I had a hundred projects going on at once. Knitting shoes, baking bread, drawing, making short movies with my brothers, etc. As I got older, I continued to study design and art as well as environmental science. The art gallery world that I had been exposed too felt too insular, and I enjoyed the practical nature of design and the myriad applications of it. I studied art and science in undergrad but I wanted a more formal design training, so I pursued graphic design at RISD for my graduate degree.