July 16, 2018


We caught up with Michael DiTullo to chat about his approach to studio work and work-life balance. 

Michael DiTullo is an award winning product designer based in Leucadia, Encinatas. Just north of San Diego, California. Michael has worked for iconic brands like Nike, Google, Converse, Frog Design and Sound United. He is a design powerhouse with over 34 thousand Instagram followers watching his daily posts of sketches, designs and musings on creativity. Recently, Michael took the plunge in establishing his own design studio.

“I love what I do. Honestly, I go to bed thinking about projects, and I can’t wait to get up and get back to work. That is not to say it is easy. There are days when a project is very difficult, where I’m getting my butt kicked. I love that. It usually means I’m on the edge of something new.”

A day in Michael’s studio starts with getting up at around 6 am, having breakfast with his wife, going for a jog with his dog and getting ready for the day. By 8 am he’s in the studio. He dedicates the first hour of the day to emails, social media and phone calls with European clients. From 9 am to 4 pm the focus shifts to client design projects. Then, in the afternoon Michael spends another hour on emails and writing project proposals, before completing the day with some work on his sketch-a-day Instagram project. 

Michael's home studio.

Michael’s home studio

When Michael is not in the studio, he spends his time pitching projects or running workshops with clients. A hectic schedule that balances creative output with the admin of running and growing a small business.

A collection of design sketches

A collection of studio concept sketches by Michael DiTullo

Michael DiTullo LLC

“The mission behind the new studio is to design the most iconic products and brand experiences possible in every category.”

Michael aspires to produce industry-leading, progressive and provocative work. After 20 years of bringing products to life, pushing the envelope is where his expertise lies. And establishing the Michael DiTullo LLC studio has been a natural progression for Michael in continuing to push his professional boundaries. In the very first week of operation, Michael signed two large clients, one in luxury luggage, the other in modern real estate. Both categories are new turf for Michael, but both projects have been commissioned by clients who value and support Michael’s ambition to push the boundaries.

“Love for making things of value and integrity, dissatisfaction with the status quo, and the will to create brave solutions, those are things I’m passionate about.”

Bag concept sketch by Michael DiTullo

Bag concept sketch by Michael DiTullo

Wellness at work

Michael hasn’t always focused on wellness and work-life balance. When he first started out as a professional designer, he sacrificed a lot for the job. He wasn’t eating well and often worked big hours without balance. 

“Now I’ve set up some boundaries. I eat healthy and exercise. I live where my wife and I want to live, a block from the beach near San Diego, California. I take time to spend with friends and family. And you know what? I’m a better designer for it.”

Michael acknowledges that achieving work-life balance is difficult, especially when you are passionate about what you do. But he’s been in business for long enough to know what to focus on. He emphasises the importance of being well rested for doing creative work, and he makes sure to always get 8 hours of sleep. In his free time he reads a lot, spends time with friends, and he enjoys conversations over a coffee and late night discussions about philosophy, culture, politics, and of course design.

Part of Michael’s approach to professional wellness has been to define himself and where he has wanted his career to go.

It will be tempting for people to put you in a box. Destroy those definitions that are put on you and create your own, then live that.

Lunch in a home studio

When Michael is not having business lunch with clients or colleagues, he often enjoys eating lunch outdoors, in the sun-drenched Zen garden next to his studio. His current go-to lunch is egg salad with cornichons, which he mixes with fresh salad and herbs or makes a sandwich with it.

Michael's zen garden at his home studio

Michael DiTullo’s zen garden at his home studio

It’s been great chatting with Michael. If you like to know more about Michael’s latest work, check out his website or Instagram.

This article was originally published at beetbox.com