Hey y’all! Exciting news to share: I was recently interviewed in the Sept/Oct Communication Arts magazine on my coworking experience. Author Rebecca Havel and I spoke about my transition from working at home to working in an office. She interviews myself, along with others who work in coworking spaces in San Francisco and New York City. Check out the article here.
The article does a great job proclaiming the awesome benefits of coworking spaces. There are a few threads that run throughout our experiences: being around other creatives, opportunities to collaborate together on innovative projects.
I currently work out of Studio Co/Create, a space in NE with a total of 8 creatives, including designers, illustrators, and an architect. This place is the best: I work with extremely talented people. And the space is beautiful. Take a look at the stunning photos of our space by Portland photographer Anna Harris at Anna Caitlin Photography.
When I picked up CA magazine and shared with my office mates, I could help but pause and reflect on what our coworking space has done for me:
Given me courage: I’m surrounded by the best designers and illustrators in Portland. Working near this energy gives me the courage to experiment and push my work to a higher standard.
A dedicated space to bring clients to: I no longer need to present a brand new website design at coffeeshops, increasing the volume of my voice as the screech of coffee grinders and milk foamers fill the air. Now clients and collaborators come by the office and are presented with a serene space where we can get shit done.
Exercise: As a veteran bike commuter, having an office away from my house gives me a regular exercise regimen that I would not have if I worked at home. This exercise helps me work out any self-employment stresses, or creative challenges.
New friendships: The officemates and I have been with each other in the good times, and the bad. My coworkers have grown their families (2 babies last year), travelled internationally (Japan and Denmark), and transitioned their homes (2 houses purchased, 1 sold). We’ve been with each other through some tough times, too. I had a recent loss this summer and my friends at the office were more helpful than I could have imagined. I’m so grateful that I didn’t have to spend the sad times alone at home. I had a place to cry in front of other people. We often give each other hugs when we need them.
Considering an office outside of the home?
I remember when I was on the lookout for my office space. I saw a lot of places that were not a good fit. To find the right spot for you, here are some things for you to consider while you’re out on your exploration:
Review the type of work your future office mates are doing. Does it inspire you? Does it challenge how you think about your own creativity? Look for people who do a variety of work that supports what you do and can help you grow as a creative.
Ilise Benun, marketing specialist to creatives says you should look critically at a space by showing up to a few events. “I know a lot of places have a calendar of events, but are people actually attending? Is it the same people over and over? How active is that community?”
How does the space feel to you? Is it designed and decorated in a way that you can work in?
Is it clean? Busy people working in one space together with different levels of cleanliness can erupt into an untidy space. If you notice ants on a work desk, or overflowing paper towels in the bathroom trash, you may want to pass on that space. But if the owner hires a cleaning crew, and the office mates take a bit of extra time to clean up the communal spaces, that’s a good sign.
Check out the commute. If you ride a bike, is the ride convenient? If you handle day care for your kid, is the travel convenient for drop offs and pickups? My office mates often have to go pick up a sick toddler, and they say having their day care near the office is a great asset.
Can the people in this space contribute to your network of peers and collaborators? For example, if someone in the space is a web designer, ask what kind of web development help they may have access to. See if their collaborators at a level you want to be.
A Total Transformation
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
― Helen Keller
I meet so many solo creatives that work at home and want to work in an office. A buddy of mine just said yesterday “I just gotta bite the bullet and do it.” I can relate to the fears of moving to an office—will it be a good fit? Can I afford it? In my experience, moving to an office transformed how I work and run my business.
It’s given me the courage to draw more. I can ask for advice on client relationships. We take lunch breaks together and shoot the breeze.
Ultimately, I very much relate to the experience April Walters had while in her coworking space. She went through a total transformation, from a social media manage to now a full-time illustrator. This change started with one watercolor class at her space: getting her hands in the paint was the seed that started a whole new way of working. Walters says “I wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for the influence Makeshift and its members have had on me.” And what great work! Her food illustrations make me want to eat a dozen donuts. Check out and buy her work here.
I totally agree with Walters: I wouldn’t be where I am in my business today if it weren’t for the community at Studio Co/Create. It’s true: I’m glad I bit the bullet. It is one of the best business decisions I’ve made—ever.
Wanna meet up and have a lunch at our shared space? Send me an note and we’ll get something in the books.
I work with creative entrepreneurs and I realign their brand identity so it feels fresh and fearless. My clients finally feel empowered to share their business look and feel with the world.
Do you want to be fearless when you show your business to the world? Do you want to share your passions and talents to a broader audience? Do you want your business image to be as fresh and creative as what you offer to your clients? Do you want to be the professional on the block, and stand out from the rest of the crowd? Let’s work together.