Hobbies vs. work

In House Industries‘ excellent retrospective from last year, one of the main themes is “take your hobbies to work.” That idea encapsulates the major reason I started my company, and why my goal for the past ten years has been, and remains, to run a small studio with a very small handful of creative people working on projects we’re very selective about. I want to work on our own hobbies and interests, and apply those skills to the work we bring to the table for clients.

The flip side to that coin is time management. We can’t always work on our personal projects, but we try. Time management hasn’t always been my greatest skill (since I was a kid, I have a knack for biting off a bit more than I can comfortably chew). But working in a small business staffed with driven professionals (which I consider Ben and I) affords us the opportunity to now and again set work aside during business hours and focus on our hobbies and personal projects. This is a busy time of year for us, but I’ve managed to knock off a day a week over the past month to work on a kitchen renovation. My girlfriend, Liz, has excellently outlined our plans on the site she recently launched to show off her interior design work and thoughts, Mix + Maximal.

Here’s why I think it’s important: independence is a key to successful creative work and freedom. In the future, I’ll focus a post on it. Our client work is always done with our clients’ needs and goals in mind, but in the end, we take on jobs because we think they’ll be fun or interesting or challenging, and ideally all three.  I don’t think good work comes out of anything that doesn’t have at least two of the three.

It’s why we did the pennant project this winter.

It’s why we drew up logos for a few dozen of the buildings in the neighborhood.

It’s why we make shirt designs for Omaha Screen Co.

It’s why we design logos that won’t be used anywhere but seem cool to us.

And it’s why we always hand-print all of our cards.

If we don’t love it, then we don’t want to do it. And if we don’t want to do it, we don’t. That’s the importance of independence.

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