Inside with: Leigh Patterson

Leigh Patterson has been inspiring us for years. As the creative visionary behind some of our favorite brands (hi Apiece Apart!! hello Gjelina! good morning F. Miller!), her aesthetic offers a unique and thoughtful approach to the power of words and images. Her most recent project, The Moon Lists, is especially close to our hearts, as it’s the monthly journal we turn to for marking time in the most interesting of ways. With insightful, heady and sometimes even mundane questions, it’s our preferred way to track our feelings. Let the power of the written word guide you home.

Please tell us a bit about who you are, where you are and what you’re up to.

I am an editorial + creative director in quarantine in Austin, TX. I operate a creative studio called LUCCA where I work with a range of businesses and brands to form or refine their editorial voice and aesthetic expression. I’m also the founder of The Moon Lists, a platform that creates tools to “change” your mind: guided workbooks, perspective-shaping prompts, objects intended to help us zoom out and retain a capacity for wonder.

Your project Moon Lists is a CAP favorite, please share with us the origin story for this interactive project. And a bit about the project for those who don’t know. 

The Moon Lists started after I read an interview with National Geographic photographer Sam Abell, who mentioned a monthly ritual he shared with his wife: an evolving set of questions they would exchange centering around the last 30 days. I was intrigued and wrote to him, requesting to see the full list and wondering if I could have permission to reimagine the project on my own  — to my delight, he responded (nearly a year later!) After that, I began the Moon Lists as an interview series, sending prompts to different contributors all framed around the recent past. As the project evolved, I realized people were using the Lists in a different way than I’d intended... taking these open-ended questions and using them as entry points for self-inquiry or journaling. This direction turned into a printed workbook of 18 months of prompts, list-making exercises, and ideas for developing a (low stakes) ritual around self-reflection. 

Beyond that, I consider the whole project to be a platform for reshaping life in more imaginative and nourishing ways — it’s the antithesis of social media’s screed-rewarding algorithm and instead designed to inspire a return to reason and reflection. As someone who is both very particular about the objects I bring into my world and highly skeptical of anything that feels like it’s claiming to “heal” or “better” me, I wanted to create something that invites looking inward in a non-dogmatic nor dumbed-down way; we are all better when we are allowed to see things from a different perspective, so why not find new ways of doing that? 

What does a day in your life look like?

I’ve worked from home for 5+ years so my daily routine hasn’t changed much amid social distancing — I do typically travel a lot so I have been trying to appreciate this forced ejection from my sped-up norm and just be ok with taking it slower. 

Nothing profound: I stretch, then go for a walk, make my list for the day, drink coffee, and get to it. I really love my work and I feel super grateful for the opportunity to do what I do... so I show up every dang day. There are obviously times when I’m not in the mood. I’m not supporting an unnecessary adulation of productivity...but I do just try to come to it from the most earnest place of clarity I can muster. Then, stop for lunch and maybe another walk. Lots of phone calls! Firmly break for the day by 6 to read or write or research whatever project is front of mind at that moment... then wine and dinner with my husband. A movie or a book. Early bedtime because I get sleepy early.

How can we use the time at hand to cultivate insight and creativity?

I don’t believe in forcing insight or creativity. I don’t really feel like it’s a choice? If it’s not right it’s not right. Honestly I have not been in the mood over the last 6 weeks to do any deep thinking because time feels so bendy and strange right now; I’m finding it hard for any thought or feeling to feel substantial when I’m in the thick of myopic impermanence. 

A couple years ago I went to a month-long artist residency and only got any real work done on the last day! Whoops. I beat myself up about it at the time but in retrospect the valuable “work” that was happening there wasn’t able to be realized until later, with the shift in my perspective and fragments of ideas that needed that window of incubation and distance. Similarly, one thing I have been pretty diligent about recently is mere documentation without strings attached — little things I’m noticing, sitting on the porch and just watching trees move around in the wind, realizing there’s a weird sticker on my shoe that’s probably been there for a year, looking next door and inventing theories about why my neighbor orders delivery from Chipotle every day...this is what’s going on in my brain. If all I can do is be a witness, so be it. 

What was the first thing you did when you woke up this morning?

Try to locate my glasses, which I always fall asleep wearing and lose in the bed.

What did you make for dinner last night?

GIANT salad — greens, raw and roasted veg, sauerkraut, seeds, nuts, avocado, and dressing I make that’s just Gjusta EVOO/lemon/dijon. Secret ingredient za’atar salt! Sourdough from our friend Spencer that we froze and have been rationing out. Reallyyyyy delicious chilled red wine since it was 90 degrees out.

I saw that you are a fan of time blocking, and I know you have worked from home for years, can you please share with us your techniques and any tips you have for making the most of your work day. 

Sure! The time blocking thing isn’t really any strict or fancy technique, but essentially I just try as best I can to have a strategy for my day before I get started and then block out the day into tasks that I am feasibly able to accomplish. For example, I am more focused and a better writer in the morning so I put all creative and writing projects before lunch. Then I know I get really sleepy and can be unmotivated in the afternoons so I will do more emailing or transactional tasks then. My method is not your method but it is A method, so that’s my only advice.

Other things:

I get super antsy if I’m just sitting in the same spot all day so I like to switch up my working situation multiple times (have had to get inventive since I can’t just go to the coffee shop anymore; I’ve been physically moving my desk outside on sunny days and taking lots of mid-day breaks.) 

Also I am strict with my boundaries with clients which I think is incredibly important. I am not going to respond to texts at 9pm because that’s just ludicrous! Stop texting me!

Lastly I like to have at least 3 different beverages in the mix at all moments. Not a tip, just a thing I like. I wish I could tell you I have a perfectly organized workspace punctuated by ikebana pairings of fresh peonies and found branches but... nope, just drinks.



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