I Found Inspiration Working Outdoors

I remember the first time I left the house to work. It was early in 2006 in Bristol, England. The weather was drizzly and overcast, but calm with a few rays of sun. Sitting in the cold of my new dining room was getting monotonous, and as a new small business owner, I knew I needed consistent, fresh inspiration to continue to push the boundaries of my design work.

I started where a lot of beginning remote and nomadic worker start: Starbucks. I had barely learned my way around town, but my wife Ruth had taken me there before. I threw a bunch of things in my backpack: my laptop, charger, an old issue of Monocle and my Wacom graphic tablet. I was wearing some newish Clarks ‘Wallabee’ knock-offs in fake black leather, some tight jeans and a brown wool zip-up sweater from Banana Republic. I hadn’t yet begun to plan anything when it came to working without an office.

As soon as I arrived in-town it hit me: this is where everything is happening. I could see employees designing shopfront window displays, business men and women hustling about, and the creative youth skateboarding and riding their fixed-gear bikes. Bristol has two major universities, and they constantly keep the creative life-blood flowing through the city.

Back in LA I enjoyed getting out as much as the next person. I always liked the buzz, but it wasn’t until that first trip to Starbucks that I realized how it affected my work. It provided an endless source of inspiration. I was learning to love the world more.

During those 7 years working nomadically in England I learned to harness the energy in the city. It was always around me, feeding my creativity in one way or another. It wasn’t until Ruth and I decided to move back to The States that I began to yearn for a different kind of inspiration — that which comes from what seems like the polar opposite of the city-buzz — the wild.

In some ways the city is just as wild as the remote outdoors; just in different ways. But as I grew older my desire for quiet stillnessgrew commensurately, and I began to long for the peace and beauty that I’ve only ever found when off the beaten paths of the city. Now that we’re right at the foot of The Rockies there’s no shortage of places to go. In every direction there is nothing but wilderness.

I haven’t yet had much of a chance to really go deep into the woods for work, but I’ve taken the family on many long-distance driving explorations into the mountains. We’ve traveled along the Big Thomson river which has some of the best fly-fishing in the world. We’ve been all around Estes Park and through the Rocky Mountain National Forest. We’ve gone at least 75 miles in every direction, and it’s all beautiful.

This season I’m going to begin some cursory planning for how I’ll work when I’m way out in the sticks. I have no idea how I’ll eat or have internet. I’ll probably need to focus a lot on safety. I may need an extra gas can or two. Who knows. But I can’t wait to dive into this new-but-ancient wilderness.