The recent need to work from home due to extreme weather shutting down the UK transport system has prompted me to consider my workspace. I have the enviable position of being able to do my job almost entirely from home – through remote access, email and telephone – under these circumstances, but does a change in surroundings change the way I work and what I produce?
Objectively good places to work rarely end up being so; in their faultlessness, quiet and well-equipped studies have a habit of rendering the fear of failure overwhelming.
Alain de Botton (The Ideal Live/Work Space According to Alain de Botton on Unplggd)
Apart from the obvious distractions of home working – pets, family, the ability to chain-drink tea, I can see obvious benefits and pitfalls, some of which are one and the same. If you usually work in a studio with other people, sitting at the same desk and looking at the same wall, I think a change of scenery can bring a refreshing change in perspective. It can allow you to think differently, access a different range of resources and inspiration. It can afford you a more relaxed working environment, which is not always beneficial, but can be if you are disciplined enough. I tend to move my workspace around the house depending on the task in hand: drawing, and checking proofs at the dining table where I have space for my drawing board, or to spread out sheets of paper; web building on the sofa where I can have my laptop on my knee and feel comfortable, warm and relaxed for the inevitably long time I will be sitting working; studio with desk for drawing on the mac, photo editing, etc. where I need to use a mouse or pen and tablet.
So that’s how I work, but I’m also fascinated by other people’s workspaces – what they gather around themselves to inspire and motivate. There’s this great thread on Behance where people are posting photos of their workspaces – mostly computer stations, but there are some artist and illustrator’s studio spaces too. The Guardian also did a series which ended a couple of years ago called writer’s rooms which featured writers in their workspaces along with an article about their working practices which made fascinating reading.
If you have a photo of your workspace on flickr, tumblr, facebook, whatever, please feel free to post a link in the comments section, or email me and I’ll do a post of some of them later in the week.
This article on the BBC news site today makes some interesting points about access to wisdom and the value of libraries as free repositories of knowledge. I am certainly of the belief that reading is important. But can it make us happy? It is like the point Alain de Botton makes in his book, The Architecture of Happiness, does architecture make you happy or does the happy person just appreciate beauty more?
I have read books as if my life depended on it since I was a child. I can see that there is a fine balance between experiencing the word outside and learning about the world within, but I cannot undervalue the importance of being exposed to new ideas. A lecturer said to me once, when I was back at University, that there were three types of people: those who talk about each other, those who talk about things and those who talk about ideas. I strive to be the third type of person (although, as a designer, the ‘thing’ requires discussion as well as the ideas behind it) and I cannot help but judge a book by its cover – there are people who spend their lives engaged in the kind of design that relies on you doing just that. But the real, honest to goodness, joy of books – for me – is that they are a direct access to someone else’s world. To their way of seeing things, describing things, and of solving problems. And that ability to understand other people’s worlds, and to communicate directly to them in the appropriate way, is what makes me a good designer. I couldn’t do that without books – talking to people is important too, but it is knowledge, language and imagination, all of which is fed by reading, that makes me good at what I do.
Reading makes us rich in the things that really matter.
So, I have been building a new website to showcase some of my personal work. So far it hasn’t actually got the portfolio section done – so my work will be on various social networking sites. You can visit the new site here or you can see my commercial work at www.ideafuel.co.uk
Ps. Alfie has moved.
If you were exhibiting at New Blood I hope it all went well. I exhibited there myself when I was a student, twice. The experience was fantastic. Maybe I’ll try to relive it next year…
Deciding to upgrade my website from a simple blog site to this more flexible site has been a mammoth task – shooting photographs of all my latest work, and digging out images of everything else.
Still, totally worth it. Incidentally, whilst I have been working, Boz has been doing this:
(migrated from old blog)