It’s been a while since I wrote on here… usually it’s more of a quick post, an inspiration find. But. I’m about to get reflective, people. Brace yourself.
Yesterday was my birthday which included a relaxing morning and then an unfortunate all-night work affair. Then h brought me home cheesecake after his class. So that was not bad.
I did some early a.m. thinking, though… not necessarily because it was my birthday, but because (at least the morning) was a very welcome break in the past couple weeks of non-stop work. I’m feeling super fortunate these days to have a steady flow of projects coming in. As expected in moving to a new place where you have zero contacts—starting off as a freelancer was pretty darn slow. Slow enough where I had to get a super lame part-time job so I could fund my eating and drinking and breathing habit. Luckily, that gig was fairly short-lived and it’s been pretty steady ever since. A year and a half in, and I’m feeling settled. Initially, the draw to freelancing was due in large part to my frustration from my last full-time job, where I wasn’t crazy about the type of work I was doing and who I was doing it for. And you know what you can’t really say when a project lands on your desk?
“I don’t want to do that for them.”
So you do it. And you grimace and daydream about greener pastures. And forget what a treat it is to get a decent paycheck consistently every 2 weeks, but that doesn’t really matter anymore, because dammit, you’ve seen the dark side of yourself and now you’re bitter all the time. sigh…
Then when I started getting work here on my own, I still couldn’t really say no because I never knew if that was going to be the last time someone was going to ask me for work… ever. So I said yes to everything. (Really, a brilliant form of time/schedule management.) And now? I’m officially able to turn things down. It’s pretty amazing. I love deciding what my workday will look like. I’m the healthiest I’ve been since… I’m not sure. We cook better than we ever have—meaning we eat better than we have. And to boot I’ve been consistently working out since we moved. (It’s ridiculously easier to do this when you decide you want to work out at 9. Or noon. Or 3.) I’m starting to get more projects that I’m super excited about… including a couple book projects on the horizon which is the best news.
However. With that glowing review of my freelance life out of the way… I really miss working with people! I have a handful of great clients that I really enjoy visiting and working with… but I miss my fellow designers. I miss the great collaboration that comes with fellow designers. Years ago in school, I had a perfect partnership with my friend Clint while working on Ninth Letter. After school, we moved to Chicago, competed for a single job opening, and ended up at different agencies. One day he was biking home from work and was doored by a car—a battle he so very, very, unfortunately lost. This post isn’t about that heartbreak (and tragedy, and bike safety, and driver safety, and…) though. It’s about relationships that have magic. Clint and I, we always said we’d start our own studio one day down the road, and I can’t help but keep thinking about that. I really loved the designers I worked 9-5 with, but Clint and I felt in sync. Something clicked. And I guess that’s rather rare. Here in Iowa City, not only are there fewer designers than back in the city, but I don’t feel like I align with those I’ve met or seen—design-wise or otherwise.
I’ve had grad school in the back of my mind the past couple years, and that desire has grown as of late. After h finishes his MFA, we’re outta here, and I’m ready and hungry to find a new design community. One that’s excited to push and pull and struggle and ask questions of Design that people aren’t asking in the workplace. I can see myself doing the small business thing for years… but not so sure if I’m interested in doing it solo for the rest of my years. Er… I’m not interested in doing it solo for the rest of my years.
In summary? Good past year. Great past year, actually. Proud of myself for surviving and doing work that I’m happier with than the old days. But not as doe-eyed and in love with the idea of a solo freelance gig as I was a year ago. I can anticipate the changes ahead in a couple years and am already excited.