So tonight I went to Islington Mill to an event run by Beep Industries. It was a talk by Aaron Draplin – founder of Portland’s Draplin Design Company and co-creator of Field Notes.

Now – got to say straight away – I wasn’t aware of him really until a couple of weeks ago. Yeah, I know. A friend of mine posted a link to a video of his, I then read his blog, then his twitter, then he posted that he was in Manchester this week. So I bought tickets, quickly passed on the baby to Elisabeth and drove over to the Mill.

Cutting to the chase – man was I glad I went. A great, funny, super-talented, inspirational guy. Above all what struck me was his sheer passion, the sheer joy and love he had that all day he could work for himself, making things that he loved and live that way. It was clear that this was a privilege to him; that the ability to do this, and to work and live like this is not something to be taken for granted, but something to be cherished and loved and celebrated.

Now he’s about 12 months or so older than I, but waaaay ahead of me on this thing. He’s a way better designer, way more experienced, etc. And sometimes, as I’m going greyer, losing hair and am constantly tired, that could get one down. But actually, it was all just super inspiring. Just the idea that your life can be what you make of it, if you work hard. I’m not saying anybody can do anything, but as someone who went completely freelance in March this year, and has a 6 month old baby, that’s genuinely inspirational.

I started freelancing with no clients and from a job which wasn’t the one I freelance in (so I wasn’t ‘known’ in the industry), and knowing I had a baby on the way, and a mortgage to pay. Scary. But it’s working. Slowly, but it’s working. And I can get up in the morning, I don’t need to put on a suit, or even get dressed. My commute is to my computer with a coffee. I can listen to whatever I want, work the hours I need to, spend time with Evie and my fiancé, catch up on shit on the internet without having to hide my computer screen, and what’s the worst I have to do? Make more amends than I’d like to a client’s work? Have to chase an invoice a couple of times? So what?

Also – it shows that if you work hard, work like it means something, like you’re the client, then you can produce great stuff that you love, and have a job that you love. And in these days of ‘a missing decade’, etc, that’s quite something.

So thanks to Draplin, and thanks to Beep. Shame more people weren’t there, you missed out. It’s sending me back to my work inspired, fired up, and ready to work harder and better. But not for some shareholders, or a boss, or whatever. But for me.

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