They always say a good painter never has time to paint their own house.
Something about being so in-demand that you just don’t have the opportunity to do you, so to speak. And I’ve heard it said enough about my industry, too. Problem is, if you believe in what you do (as I do) it’s pretty hard to sell your services to others as being important or necessary if you can’t justify the time or energy on doing it for yourself. While it can be hard to justify the cost in the short-term, I’ve found that if you don’t take the time to clearly articulate who you are and what you’re about, you wind up working with people that you don’t want to be working with. As my old boss Damien used to say, doing shit work for idiots.
Nobody wants that.
The real reason agencies like mine don’t want to go through designing and developing a brand and website for themselves is because it’s hard. It’s hard being your own client, and it’s hard finding the time. Especially given that you never really want to be done with it. As a creative type, you never really finish anything, you only give up. The idea of “finishing” a work flatly disgusted Picasso:
“To finish a work? To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul, to give it its final blow the coup de grace for the painter as well as for the picture.”
So, how do you find time? How do you stay objective? How do you know when you’re done? Hardest of all, how do you let go, step back and say “Yep, this is me. This is us. This is the best we’ve got.” It can almost feel like admitting defeat.
We’ve been “working on our website” since I first quit my job to start this business seven years ago. (I also left to start a cafe, too. More on that another time.) We’ve been slowly evolving our brand as we go, too. Constantly tinkering, never happy. We have so many iterations and versions of the design of this site, it’s actually kinda hilarious.
It got me thinking about another thing I’ve been trying to do for a while: find something to talk about. We’re constantly telling clients that they need to find their voice, to create and share content that’s a genuine reflection of who they are and what they think about the world. I’ve struggled to find anything that I actually want to talk about, day-to-day, week-to-week, that didn’t feel forced, or pompous, or op-ed-ish.
Showing + Telling
So rather than waiting any longer to start sharing our brand, waiting til we’d finished tinkering, or sitting here any longer thinking up clever and pompous things to write about, I decided I’d instead share our own digital identity as we build it. Our agency aphorism is “Show, Don’t Tell”, but in this case, I thought I’d do both.
We’ll share what we’re thinking through (or not thinking through) along the way, from our most strategic and creative thoughts through to our fuck ups, misfires, and bad ideas. I’ll talk about our process, how we work together as a group, any tricks or ideas that seem to get results. I’ll probably rant about the design business and the business of design, as those are things I tend to get worked up about. I’m interested to track what we tell clients against what we actually do for ourselves. I’ll probably share some WIP as we do it, and probably a GIF of a chicken on a dancefloor.
I figure there might be something in there for clients and fellow agency owners alike to learn from. At the absolute least, I hope to learn something from putting this together. If anything in here strikes a chord, and you have some experience of your own to share, reach out. You can comment in Medium, or at least highlight bits you like. Or clap! Medium certainly is a conventional platform with normal functionality.
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