who's the boss?
image by J, boss disguise courtesy of lint from J's cardigan
It's been two and a half months since J stopped being a salaried employee and started running "ampulets" as a registered design business. Since friends have been asking how's it been, here's a summary of J/TOHA's experience so far -
Sweetest part of the deal: Being able to "control" how you spend your time, even if most of that control is technically false since you are bound to complete the job for your client (usually within tight deadlines). But more importantly, doing something you enjoy and have chosen to do. Plus there's always the satisfaction of learning and knowing you have provided more than just a solution to someone else's challenge.There are other useful things J has gleaned from folks who have been-there-done-that and have written down their experiences in books. One of my favourite is art director of Work Theseus Chan's "always dress better than your clients". J is reading Adrian Shaughnessy's cheesily-titled How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul which, in spite of its title, provides rather down to earth, practical-sounding advice.
Things to get used to: Not having colleagues (well, not until you think you want to hire or grow with new partners) around to banter and toss ideas with. Consequently, having to wear several hats - e.g. cleaning lady, delivery boy, consultant, account manager, business development, IT technician. If you have a spouse, share some of those duties - e.g. I am the default critic, accountant, clerk and coffee lady.
Things that keep you awake at night: Unfinished work in an office that is 2 steps and 1 coffee mug away from the bedroom.
Things that frustrate: IT problems - hardware, software (oh, intel core 2 duo processors in a mac don't work well with adobe!) you name it, the computer will have it. How much happier when things were made with hands and simpler tools!
Things to watch out for: Taking time out from the desk to meet a client face-to-face, read the papers, read a book, take a walk, visit a museum, have lunch with friends and other like-minded folks, do work which don't necessarily pay all the bills. Count all this as your legitimate work time.
At the end of the day, it's knowing what you want for yourself and the people you work with. A career does not define who you are. It cannot save. It can, of course, do what it does best, feed your stomach and some of your mind. It can be conducted with integrity - but only because it is a reflection of a larger picture of a life lived.
Monday night J and I went to collect a pair of rings from argentum. We took a long bus ride and after alighting, in the cool night air, found our way to her studio in a quiet residential estate. The designer S has been putting her work out under argentum for many years now (in Singapore, she is stocked at Blackjack in Forum). In many ways J and I admire not only her work but her way of work - quietly, independently, modestly, unassumingly.
Anyway, here is a pic of our new rings. They are very different in form and tone from her initial clean white/black industrial rubber rings (like life buoys) that we got married in. But hey, we like them both and better still, we are looking forward to how, with time and wear, they will change.