How to be chaotic minimal

My life is based around keeping everything minimal.
less stuff, less choices, more freedom. In theory.

However I’m not a shiny airbrushed Instagram influencer, things creep up without noticing and that stellar Pinterest worthy morning routine can be broken by eating a cookie for breakfast, forgetting to put coffee grounds in your keep cup, sipping on hot water and wearing what you are 80% sure are yesterdays socks. 

Ladies, Gentlemen and everyone in between, my morning.

Ladies, Gentlemen and everyone in between, my morning.

For example, I recently found myself in a place where I had a gap that I wanted to use to find new clients or take on a new project.

So I did a few things;

I reached out to some old clients via email
I reached out to some potential new clients via email
I started this blog (not too much work at all..)
I scoured Twitter, Instagram, even (shudder) LinkedIn for the inkling of a lead.
I asked friends
I did not ask family (never work for family. The golden rule of design)

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Then I wait.
I wait some more.
Before long I fully freak out and think I’ll never get work again.
So I start the whole routine over, again, and again.

Out of this bleak crisis cave of my own creation, to my utter surprise jobs start coming in
proposals! Small logo jobs! Websites! Can you make me a flyer for my friends party? (No mum, no I can't) Guest blog posts! 

Actually the last one is a lie, but you have to put out in the world what you want from it. The secret and all that.

 

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I think my point is this, 

I can hold it together up to a point and then I get too comfortable, take on more and more things until my beautiful minimal life is catapulted into the giant pile of things to do and little time to do them, like some sort of self sabotaging time hoarder.

Life has a way of working out, however giving life a bit of a nudge when it’s not can't hurt. 

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Of course with a little wiggle room and planning everything can get done, (google calendar is my best friend) I’m not here writing this to sugar coat that freelancing dream of getting home at 6 and playing video games in a pristine flat whilst eating a kale salad whilst you rake in your cushy day rate.

Every freelancer has done a late late shift or pulled an 18 hour day once in a while and finished it all off with a shame deliveroo, but keeping yourself accountable and giving yourself a tiny breather to plan can make all the difference.

Keep it simple, don’t freak out and put coffee grounds in before water, for the love of god.

Thank you for reading, 
Catch you next time.
H

This one weird trick will improve your life

If there is one truth about life it is this: If you tell someone they should listen to a podcast they absolutely won't do it. It's the same thing as explaining a dream to someone, you both know that its a waste of time.

I truly believe that podcasting is the next big advancement in entertainment, you can passively listen to improv whilst doing the ironing, to a murder mystery whilst commuting to work even a fall asleep to someone talking about Dr Who. In a world in which multi tasking is a daily practice using podcasts to get your message across is critical, be it starting your own or using podcasts with a similar audience to your brand to promote your product.

If targeted podcast advertising is anything to go by i'm a perfect candidate for a new mattress, subscription underwear and a new website. (Yes this is a Squarespace site and yes I did use the offer code 'weird' for a 10% discount.)

pretty fancy, right?

pretty fancy, right?

Personally, I love hearing people's lived experiences. It opens my eyes to other peoples lives in a way that, short of talking to them one on one, is incredibly valuable to me as a designer and human. (very separate things.)

My pet peeve in a brief is when complex, unique humans are grouped into mass swathes of the population. Millennials, Mums, everyone. How can you target a product to every single mum??

As designers everything we do is for people, we use what people say and work out what they mean then explore ways in which we can give them what they want in a way that makes them want it. So why not listen more?

Here are a few podcasts I love for you to not listen to:

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You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes
One of the first podcasts I listened to was you made it weird. It opened my eyes to the value of long form interviews (episodes can be as long as 3 hours) I love the conversational nature of the show and have heard pastors, comedians and musicians talk about what life is to them. The conversation usually revolves around three topics: comedy, religion & sexuality.
MUST LISTENS - TIM MINCHIN | JENNY SLATE | MELISSA VILLASEÑOR

Design Matters with Debbie Millman
The giant of design podcasts Debbie Millman has been talking to designers about design for over 13 years. One of the first, and greatest, design podcasts.
LISTEN HERE

Queery
Within a relatively short period of time Queery has become one of my favourite podcasts, Hosted by comedian Cameron Esposito, Queery is a 1 hour conversation with a person who identifies anywhere under the queer spectrum. 
MUST LISTENS - STEPHANIE BEATRIZ | JEN RICHARDS | VIVEK SHRAYA

Wonderful
Griffin & Rachel Mcelroy talk about things they think are great. A very sweet, wholesome and cheerful look at the value of appreciating the small things.
LISTEN HERE

The Creative Exchange
Filmmaker and youtuber Sara Dietschy talks to creative people about what makes them tick. Great in depth conversations with entrepreneurs & creative people. Available on youtube as a video as well as audio, a really interesting way to get coverage across different platforms. 
LISTEN HERE | WATCH HERE

A Piece of Work
Abbi Jacobson takes you on a journey into different styles of art in collaboration with the MOMA. Short episodes which show Jacobson in a different light to her improv background and a really accessible primer to ways of appreciating art.
LISTEN HERE

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If you see someone smiling a big cheesy grin to themselves on the tube, they are listening to a podcast. You also look like that too.

Thank you for reading, 
Catch you next time.
H

Glug London - Collaboration is King

Last week I attended the Glug London event ‘Collaboration is King’ the night featured speakers and teams talking about collaboration and what It meant to them. (As well as more free cans of trendy soft drinks and stickers than I could stuff into my backpack.)

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Vikesh Bhatt - Amplify @misterbhatt
Talked to us about what mutually beneficial collaborations can do for businesses to build on an experience, In the case of Uber + Spotify working together to create a great night out experience from home to cab. He also talked about the intention being right before you jump into a collaboration, don’t do it as a box checking exercise and really think about what each party could bring to the partnership.

Robyn + Henry @robynhfrost @Hfoenader
Robyn + Henry are a creative team that work in the advertising world, they talked about the more in sync way they approach projects, each bringing their own expertise to every part of the process. Freeing themselves from the rigid art director/ copywriter binary and giving themselves the space to creatively tackle projects together. They also made a great point about accessibility in the industry, making sure that they help champion minorities by getting in the door and helping others through too.

Sarah + Jules @BBC_Creative 
Sarah + Jules are a creative team at BBC creative, helping everything from promoting CBBC to older kids to the great BBC Three ‘Sorry not sorry for being me’ season. Their talk focused on how they work as a duo and showed some older student work which was great to see, you could really see the progression from students into professionals and showing some of their more recent work really highlighted that. They also put up this truly iconic slide.

image from a tweet by @itsjuliahardy

image from a tweet by @itsjuliahardy

Middle Boop @Middleboop
Gordon Reid had the task of bringing the evening home with a double length talk due to a speaker dropping out. He talked about skill swapping and playing to your strengths, knowing when to ask for help and what you can offer in return. 

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I was left thinking about my own practice & why there aren’t more partnerships in the design world.
I also learned that if you want to make a quality presentation chuck in a couple of quality gifs.

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The best (and most fun) creative projects I have worked on have been in small teams of people with diverse skills, so I understand the value of breaking down roles that Robyn + Henry speak of, choosing someone because of skill could mean that you choose a classically educated writer to help out visually or a developer working alongside a strategist, I could only see that as being beneficial to a project.

It reminds me of the term 'T-shaped designer' from Tim Brown of IDEO. (That's two IDEO references in two posts, if you are counting) Recognising your core discipline as the vertical stroke and your skills and experiences that can feed into that as the horizontal stroke. For example, My core discipline is Design, however my horizontal stroke could be filmmaking, strategy, content creation or even cooking.


There just needs to be a different umbrella term than ‘creative.’ eurgh.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you feel like people need to be exactly how they trained? Or maybe a little more fluid in their work? 
I’d love to know your thoughts. Send me a tweet or drop a comment below.

H

 

 

In case you were wondering, this is the best gif of all time:

(not a sponsor)

(not a sponsor)


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Harry Thory is a designer & moving image creative.
He is available for freelance work, you can see his portfolio here 

The first step to being sort of good at something

Firsts are hard. In particular firsts when you are an adult. 
It's easy as a child to start things. You just start.

Before you realise what a crayon is you have picked it up and have made something. In the case of two year old Harry, it was on the freshly painted walls of the family living room and that thing was a Sharpie dog. You start scrawling out words and getting messy with paints and just let it happen. No fear, no consequences. (Well, sometimes consequences. Imagine a two year old trying to scrub a beautiful Sharpie dog off a beautiful white wall.)

As an adult things are different, there are nagging doubts that pop into your head (what if I fail? what if it's bad?) and in my case I constantly put things in the way of doing something outside of my comfort zone. 

Here's what I wanted to put in my way before starting to write this blog:

Get a cup of coffee
Make sure I'm wearing the right clothes (no sweatpants allowed)
The right kind of background noise
Is the flat clean?
Let me check my emails...
What's happening on Instagram? (The answer is nothing. Nothing is ever happening on Instagram.)

I know full well that doing things is the best way to get good at things. I know that just do it is the easiest said and hardest done phrase. Looking at you, Nike.

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Full disclosure, I'm not a writer. I'm not even a good speller (sp?). I'm dyslexic. I procrastinate about writing constantly. However, against all those thinly masked excuses for why this blog may well be terrible, I am persisting even though I still have doubts (I'm doubting right now!)

I'm writing a blog simply to get better. In the same way that I recently started running, I'm not expecting it to be easy before, during or even after, but in the end it makes you a bit better than you were before the run/writing/thing you are putting off.

I have been reading the brilliant book Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential within Us All by David & Tom Kelly of IDEO which speaks of doing just this, starting and persisting. It includes simple exercises you can do on your own or in a group and reframes fears into possibilities to give yourself a little nudge in the right direction. I mapped out this post using techniques from the book and now its an actual real thing!
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So, here we are at the end of this post and I have successfully written a blog about writing a blog. 

I want to thank you for reading this little blog, I don't know where it'll go and I don't know what I'm doing but I'm doing something. If you feel like finding out then follow my Twitter for updates. See you in the next one.

H

I confess, I did have to make the coffee.

I confess, I did have to make the coffee.


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Harry Thory is a designer & moving image creative.
He is available for freelance work, you can see his portfolio here