A Day in the Life of an In-House RGD: Gigi Lau
A woman in a green cardigan and black shirt is sitting and smiling in front of two computers. She has dark brown hair and glasses. She is looking directly at the camera. Book cover designs are on the computer screens behind her.

RGD highlights the experiences of Gigi Lau RGD, Art Director at Harlequin.

1. The Basics:

Name: Gigi Lau RGD
Company Name: Harlequin
Job Title: Art Director


2. When does your typical work day start and end?
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.


3. What’s the first thing you do when you get to work?
Make a cup of tea and check email.


4. List the 5 things you spend the most time on during a typical work day, and allot them a percentage amount (adding up to 100%).

10% - Meetings – company meetings, cover approval meetings, briefings on new books, cover and author strategy

15% - Discussions and collaborations with in-house designers, other art directors and the creative directors, as well as with freelance designers/illustrators/photographers. Reviewing concepts, sketches and making revisions together with in-house designers and outside talent.

20% - Research – for new talent, for stock and reference imagery, on current competitive landscape, design inspirations

25% - Design work - brainstorming, mood boards, concepts, mechanical layouts, interior graphics

30% - Admin - creating purchase orders, sending files for approvals, emails, organizing files, reviewing priorities, casting for photoshoots


5. Of all of the tasks you complete during the day, what is your favourite? What is your least favourite?

My most favourite task is opening up emails from artists and designers to see their concepts and designs, it’s like opening a present every time. My least favourite tasks are meetings with too many people.


6. Are there any tasks that you like to do at the end of the day? That you feel you must do before you leave?
Turn off my wireless mouse. I do not like charging that thing.


8. How has your job changed over the last year, 5 years, if at all?
My portfolio has certainly grown in the past 5 years as our company has seen a lot of change and shift in publishing direction. Harlequin was sold by the Torstar Corporation to News Corp, and we are now a division of HarperCollins. We work in a lovely shiny new downtown office alongside HarperCollins Canada. 5 years ago I worked on one non-fiction imprint and 3 fiction imprints that had a strong focus on mass market titles, I worked on about 80 titles a year back then. These days I work on 7 fiction imprints with a stronger focus on hardcover and trade titles and now I work on over 120 titles a year.


10. One thing I wish I knew when I started my career is … when to stop overworking a design. And also the other way - deciding when to push for that extra 110% - being an efficient creative takes a lot of trial and error.

11. Can you also provide an image of a project (or something else) you are currently working on?
The Boy at the Keyhole is a hardcover book that is coming out this September from one of our latest imprints, Hanover Square Press. The title changed as we were working through this, (originally titled ATLAS) and the art evolved really well with the title change. For this cover I worked with Emmanuel Polanco, a talented artist living in Sweden, and concept development with my Creative Director Erin Craig and in-house designer Bora Tekogul.

A rotating gif with four images of different stage in the book cover creation process. The first image is rough sketches, the second is a rough draft of a book cover, and the last two are the final book covers.