"Idea generation is an addiction...an engaging, brain-spinning indulgence that must be practiced in moderation."
This statement is from the Behance's article which cautions on the intoxicating side-effect of idea generation. "New ideas have the potential to transform your life in wonderful ways, but they are also the most notorious source of distraction. Frustrated entrepreneurs and struggling creatives often trace back their problems to a moment when they decided to pursue too many things at once." This certainly rings true for me! Over the past three years, I have opened UPPERCASE, curated a few dozen gallery exhibitions, designed a line of wholesale greeting cards, made hundreds of handmade papergoods, launched an online store and published a book. All the while, I have continued to maintain my graphic design business. I admit that this is quite a lot to manage and though it has been exhilarating, it is also exhausting.
The arrival of a new year always brings about contemplation and resolutions. Leading up to 2008, I had been looking forward to putting more focus on my creative and business endeavours. UPPERCASE gallery, books & papergoods has developed into a bigger project than I could have possibly imagined when it first began. It its infancy, I thought it would be a small bookstore — a companion to complement my graphic design studio. It quickly became an outlet for my creativity. If I had an idea for a product, I could simply create it and see an immediate response from my customers. UPPERCASE allows me to conceptualize all aspects of a project — from concept to production to marketing to distribution. It truly uses all aspects of my creative thinking and I find this very fulfilling and enjoyable. Although working for clients has its rewards, it is so much more satisfying to have full ownership of an idea and its design.
Over the past year, the balance of my business shifted from Vangool Design to UPPERCASE as I began to devote increasing amounts of my time to the store. The success of The Shatner Show in terms of the quality of participants, press and other attention, was phenomenal and was a definite turning point. It put my small enterprise (pun intended) on the map. Although the show and book have just broken even at this point, with proper distribution now in place I hope to make enough to eventually fund another book.
My current self-directed publication project is Work/Life: the UPPERCASE Directory of Canadian Illustration & Photography. The intention of this publication is to promote Canadian talent to the best clients across North America. Participants pay a reasonable fee to be in the book and this, along with some sponsors, will cover the production and distribution costs. Some incredibly talented people have signed up! Necessarily, I have had to decline a lot of client work in order to have time to dedicate to Work/Life. After a decade of freelancing, it is against my nature to turn down a job — but now it has become a necessity to do so. I regret the inconvenience this will cause to some of my clients, but I know they will wish me well. I won't be turning absolutely everything down: I will focus on my love of publication design and special arts/culture projects, plus I remain open to any amazing unforeseen opportunities might come my way.