Here is a topic that has been spread throughout my broadcasts, posts and general creative process for most of my life and something I should have written a focused post on before now. So I want to take a few minutes and talk about something important to me based on my own experience and how I live my life.
The foundation for the Signalnoise platform was built not because I had a business plan, or an entrepreneurial escapade or a project manager telling me what do do. I built everything on my own time, because I had to. Because it’s fun. What a lot of people don’t know is that I worked as a website designer for about 12 years before making the leap to go full freelance only last year. While I was working at various agencies it was evenings, weekends and “sick days” that counted the most. If you look in my Gallery, 80% of that stuff is personal work.
I would work 9 to 5, run home to grab some dinner, then work until 2am on the many personal projects I had on the go. I never stopped, and there were huge stints where my friends wouldn’t see me because I was at home drawing, or animating in Flash, or creating a series of art pieces in Photoshop, or redesigning my website, etc. To me, the stuff I was doing during evenings wasn’t “work”, it was stuff I couldn’t wait to get home in order to keep going on. I loved doing it … it was a lifestyle, not a hobby.
Weekends were the same, only then I could spend a huge chunk of daytime hours plugging away on those personal projects. There really is nothing better than a rainy Sunday and a clean schedule. I would set my alarm real early to get a jump on that prime real estate. I’d plop in front of the computer or drawing table with a nice coffee and that would be my day.
“Sick days” are in quotes because … well, maybe once or twice I called in sick to work in order to stay home and work on my stuff. Your place is never quieter than when people think you’re sick. But that’s bad advice, don’t do that.
We live in a world of constant distraction. I’m not talking about the day job, I’m talking about everything else that eats away the hours so you constantly hear people saying “I wish I had more free time” or “I’d do more designing is I weren’t so busy”. In my experience, that isn’t caused by a lack of free time, it’s because that time is eaten up by social stuff, television, video games, general goofin’ off, whatever else. Using your free time wisely is a choice, not something you hope happens on it’s own. Signalnoise would not exist if I didn’t pour those hours into it. I had to. I read about all those classical artists from back in the 16th century or whatever creating because they were compelled to create. I guess it’s the same for me, and has been since I was drawing at the age of 4.
Obviously everyone’s life is different, comprised of infinitely different things. Sometimes it’s just not feasible to steal time away, and I understand that, but everyone should try to make the time to do what they love through whatever means. It’s a no-brainer to me.
If you are a creative person you should look forward to evenings, weekends and “sick days”. Genuinely look forward to that time. Not because you can sit on the couch and shut your brain off, but because that’s when you work on the stuff that truly matters. The stuff you create for you, from your heart.
When I was in grade 1 I remember racing home from school to keep working on that drawing I started the night before. Things really haven’t changed. It’s a lifestyle, man.