It’s not that I valued creativity—although I did and do, very much—I valued freedom. In this line of work, creativity is just there. It has to be, like air, or coffee. But at some point, very early on when I was working in a creative position in an oppressive employment situation, I realized that what I needed, wanted and could have, was a job that would be a part of my life, or rather, a life that could be a part of my job. My clients and co-workers could be friends, or at the very least friendly, we could treat each other well and I could enjoy (for the most part) what I did, and that the doing of the job would not be a burden but a pleasure. Seemed unlikely given an advertising and design world where overtime and weekends were not just common, but the rule rather than the exception. It was then that I set out on my own. The absolutes were: Shaved, coffee made, and at my drawing board at 8. Done early, no weekends, appreciate, if not enjoy, the people I worked with, and have it be my life.
These absolutes remain valid to this day, forty years, and more than 20 people later. We start at 8 and are done at 4. Not much overtime, no weekends (for the most part). I consider the people I work with, and many of my clients, to be friends. It’s a place where people are happy to come in the morning (for the most part) and happy to leave in the evening. And that’s the point. Everyone leaves at 4. If you’re standing in the doorway at 4, you’re in the way. What we have besides creative jobs is the freedom to live life, see family, make music, walk the dog, whatever else makes life worth living. That’s the culture. We work, but we live and there isn’t a super distinct line between here and there. We like to see ourselves as creative problem solvers, but we are also parents, musicians, soccer players, children, chocolate purveyors and race car drivers. I work with a bunch of creative people. We enjoy each other (for the most part), we are good at what we do. And, from what I can see we are good at living.
Recently when a discussion of retirement came up, someone who has worked here for 30 years said, “You’ll never retire, this is your life.” He may be wrong about retiring, but he’s right that this is my life (for the most part).