150 Days

Our studio space has been closed now for 150 days.

That’s not entirely true. Gord Woolley has been in there every day, but the rest of us have been working remotely from the studio for a long time. To give you a sense of 150 days, the average university semester is approximately 75 days, meaning we have been out of our office for all of a university year. This fascinated me. So, not to sound too trite, but I wanted to find out what we have learned.

This post is a little bit more introspective than some of the stuff we generally talk about, but it feels right for the time. I promise more type, design, and strategy talk soon.

As a community, graphic designers kind of like each other. Yes, within certain markets we are competitors but the one thing about all of us is that we are still people. I happen to have a very big group of friends that exist in this community. So, I asked them to tell me what they have experienced, or learned, in the 150 days that we’ve all been going through this.

The most common thread that came up in discussion almost immediately was space. In their own way everybody talked about a version of space. Mental space, physical space and creative space.

One of our studio friends was forced to question their ‘forever a city slicker’ mindset. They noticed that time outside in nature was helping with the day-to-day. Walking dogs helps with creative thinking. Another comment that struck me was how grateful one of our friends was for the forced ‘pause’ that COVID has given her family. They noticed how much more connected they were when they didn’t have to travel anywhere. On the flip, some people were missing the time that those transitional moments gave them.

A comment that came up a couple of times was around physical activity. One designer said they had never really been a super-active person but had started working out more. This was helping them not just physically but also mentally. One of our previous designers liked that they could now grab a beer from a local restaurant and sit in the park with a sketch book and friends.

Jessica Helfand’s Self-Reliance Project was mentioned by a dear studio friend. They had noticed that they were following their instincts more frequently. This time has given us the opportunity to operate with a little bit more autonomy, to be a bit more trusting of ourselves. I like that idea. For a lot of the people I connected with, they thought that this period, spent with themselves, has made them look at the relationships they have and cherish other people, not take them for granted. 

Our Design Director, Frances Chen, reflected on the past 150 days and our team. ‘Everyone is being so responsive and responsible. Our designers and team have been thoughtful, caring and respectful of each other. Naturally, we have been professional, but everyone has been going over and above.’ 

For some of you it will be obvious why this relates to running a studio of creative people, but sometimes we forget that our mental spaces fully support our creative spaces. Maybe one of the positives that has come out of 2020 so far is that we are giving each other the space we need to act in the ways that we feel keep ourselves and others close, supported and safe.

I want to thank the associates and friends who helped me shape this article. You know who you are, and I appreciate you.