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Character

Character

Recently , I was asked by Mennonite Health Services to write a piece on Character, one of the four C’s they identify in Valued Leadership (Character, Collaboration, Culture, Change). No small task, but a great opportunity again for me to engage this whole endeavor of running a business.

As a sole proprietor, there is a lot of freedom, but there is also a lot on the line. Vision, direction, motivation, practices and sensibilities all rest on your own shoulders. It’s all you. So, how to find a way forward? I have found a few things that work for me, but I am continually looking to grow and find better ways of doing things.

Three years ago, I never would have pictured myself an entrepreneur with a burgeoning business operating in a beautiful downtown Goshen studio space. In all honesty, before my business venture, my professional life resembled a pinball game, as I bounced around racking up experiential points, but lacking a clear (career) path forward.

Following my graduation from Goshen College, I served in Montreal with Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) for a year, toured the country as a musician, worked in education with ENL students, was part of an artist community, before moving into marketing and communications with the University of Virginia. A generation or two ago, someone might backpack through Europe to “find themselves.” I did not take that route exactly, but in my process of doing so, I struggled with a couple of cultural notions that were becoming increasingly burdensome.

The first was that I needed to “pick a career.” This notion is embedded from an early age as we are asked what we want to be when we grow up all the way through school, college and “professional development” opportunities. While it is no longer very common for individuals to work at one job for their entire career, there are certainly strong remnants of the expectation that we as individuals have one thing we are supposed to do with our lives.

Another struggle that I had was a latent expectation that in order to properly live out my faith, I needed to find a vocation that was more overtly religious in nature. Simply stated, I needed to “work in the church.” While I my parents never explicitly instructed me to do so, their lifelong roles as church leaders provided plenty of inherent pressure. These two notions can be summarized as “finding my calling.” For many years, I yearned to know what it was, and found myself often wishing I was just good at one thing, and that one thing could provide the answer I was looking for.

Only recently have I learned about an alternative philosophy for people like myself, who enjoy doing many different kinds of things. I have reference this before. These special folks are called multipotentialites. Multipotentialites are defined as individuals with interest and capacity in many different areas or disciplines. They excel in idea synthesis (seeing and applying connections with different ideas), rapid learning (devouring a new topic or area of interest) and adaptability (being able to function effectively in a variety of circumstances). These characteristics have become crucial in my ability to effectively wear the many hats needed when running a business as a sole proprietor.

Secondly, I have come to terms that there are many ways and methods to live out your faith in a career and outside of your day job. Additionally, as I had bounced around from job to job for several years, there was work going on inside of me, helping me to understand who God created me to be and firmly establishing the divine nature that creativity plays in all of our lives.

The final piece fell into place when my family and I moved from Charlottesville, VA to Goshen, and I had the opportunity to more fully pursue the creative endeavors that for many years were a hobby, or secondary job skill I could list on a resume.

Unable to really find the kind of job I really wanted, and with plenty of encouragement of those nearest to me, I took the plunge and started R3 Design. All throughout my life and career were strong notions of working hard, always looking to grow, get better, push myself and try new things. As I embarked on this new journey, I had to embrace another common mantra: don’t be afraid to fail.

But more than the learning curve with setting up internal processes, time tracking, invoicing, taxes etc., I had to make some important decisions about how I wanted to run a business. It was all new, so I did plenty of research and looked to other designers and business people for best practices and finding success. The sources ranged wildly on their philosophies, each promising a different definition of success. Some emphasized the practical – how to obtain and keep clients, methods for billing, effective time management strategies and so forth. Others swept those items aside and focused on how to find meaning and be happy with what you are doing.

I confess that I tried out several different things and still occasionally question myself as to whether there might be a better way to do something. What has become clear to me, however, is that I am clearer in who I want to be as a business owner. I want to keep learning and growing, but I also want to be intentional in viewing clients as people, not as numbers, each with their own unique story to tell.

I love that the design field allows me to keep exploring many different worlds. In any given week, I might be working in the food sector, or cosmetics, or in the education field, or entertainment, or a church or other non-profit. I get to witness the work God is doing a variety of fields and in a variety of people. With each new project, I have an opportunity to work at character, embracing my convictions and gifts, and treating others not just how I would like to be treated, but as unique children of God, each with their own gifts and story to tell.

R3 Design Process

R3 Design Process

It was a great privilege to work with David and Carrie Lee Bland Kendall of Kendall Pictures to produce this video. Not only are they are fantastic at what they do, I am pleased to call them my friends. The music was written and produced by another friend, Nate Butler of Nimblewit Productions.

 

The world of graphic design seems limitless. There’s always room to explore, to play. But it also requires an eye for detail and craftsmanship. I love that the process is always different. Meeting people where they are with an idea and helping them refine a concept or discovering a new direction altogether is energizing. A lot of people think that design is about making something pretty. But it’s really about solving problems – communicating in the most effective way. Simple, functional, and beautiful. That’s what I work to do. That’s good design.

Life as Art

Life as Art

Editor’s note: The following entry is from a talk I recently gave at my high school alma mater.  I was both surprised an honored when I was asked to speak there, and while I may never know if my words meant much to the hundreds of faces staring back at me, I considered it a privilege to share some thoughts. It was also a timely opportunity for me, as I continue to wrestle with what it means to make my life my greatest artistic work.

It’s odd. It is odd coming back to a place that is familiar and yet so different. Bethany is different; I am different, but regardless, I consider it a privilege to be back here.

Let me introduce myself a bit. My name is Rafael Barahona, and I am the owner of R3 Design, a small business specializing in graphic design, logo design, print design and web design. I have a studio in downtown Goshen. Over the past decade though, I have been many things, and done many things. I have been a volunteer worker in a food bank, a touring musician, an ENL collaborator, a Spanish teacher, an office administrator, a communications specialist, a businessman and entrepreneur, a husband and father. Today, in addition to my roles at home, in the professional realm, I consider myself a “creative consultant.”

I have recently come across another label, though, which I am a pretty big fan of. I am a ¹”multipotentialite.” Any guesses as to what this means?

A multipotentialite is someone with interest and capacity in many different areas or disciplines. This is actually a very countercultural thing to be. Think about it; from the time we are barely able to write or even talk, (ages 3-5) adults begin asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The question is benign in its intention, kind of a conversation starter, but it is actually the beginnings of a continual reinforcement of a cultural paradigm. The question implies a single identity.

This is further enforced as we develop, as we choose colleges and majors, and ultimately careers. The cultural expectation that we all have one thing we are good at, one thing we should do, be passionate about, etc. Even in the church, we talk about our “calling.” Our one calling. Now this may be true for some, but I challenge the notion that every person has one destiny when it comes to what they do for a living. Perhaps I am living proof.

One things that I like about being a multipotentialite, is that I have a unique role to play in society, but more that that I have three “superpowers”:

– Idea synthesis (seeing and applying connections with different ideas)
– Rapid learning (devouring a new topic or area of interest)
– Adaptability (being able to function effectively in a variety of circumstances)

These traits have propelled me in the various directions I have seen my life take, but there are some common threads. I want to talk to you today about two specifically. Art and Faith.

At many different points I have been called and have identified myself as a artist. Ever since I was a kid, I always loved art.  Most kids do. I was pretty good at drawing and coloring, and my mom still has some of my scribblings and scrawlings buried away in storage.

But as I got older, I began to have an embattled relationship with this label. One reason, like a true multipotentialite, is because I had a lot of other interests. Another is because of societal expectations and perceptions. We have all heard the term “starving artist.” Where does this comes from? This is not exactly a positive idea or a very encouraging one. LIkewise, many are familiar with the notion that artists are scatterbrained or disorganized? Again, not very positive. ²”There is in fact a great segment of our society that is dismissive of the artist, that doesn’t see that as a legitimate career, forgetting that some of the most powerful and appreciated human experiences were born from art works.”

Being an artist can mean many different things but as an identity, I now ultimately find it limiting. I may not call myself an artist, but what is true however, is that I am creative. I have brought some measure of creativity to all of the different “jobs” I have had. I am a creative person. I believe this, other people have told me this, and for a long time, I thought is made me special.

This, however, is flawed logic. This does not make me special. Why? Because we ALL creative.

When it comes to creativity, there are some common notions and associations that are made with it.

  • traditional art (ink, paint, etc)
  • music and dancing
  • poetry and writingBut what about?
  • computer coding
  • athletics
  • engineering

I previously mentioned that I myself viewed creativity in different ways. In high school, here at Bethany, for some years I wanted to be an athlete. I expressed my creativity on the soccer field with a clever backheel, a quick shot or an unexpected through ball. In college, there was a birth of a musical journey that would last nearly a decade as I expressed my creativity in song writing and instrumentation. My own identity, and my faith, continue to shift as I have gotten older.

The Artisan Soul

We are all artists, in our own way. Or, stated another way, we are beings created with an artisan soul. Many people in our society, indeed, many of you in this room, never have thought about yourselves in this way. ²”The great divide is between those who understand that their very nature is that of an artist and those who remain unaware or in denial of the artisan soul.” But what does this mean? What does it mean to live a creative life or to have a “Artisan Soul?” This notion is explored in wonderful detail by author and mulitipotentialite Erwin McManus. At its most elemental,²”To create is to reflect the image of God.” More explicitly, though, I am not merely talking about paint on canvas or musical notes on a page. To live artfully is to live fully. Embedded in each choice we make, no matter how trivial, is a unique opportunity to be creative. A lot of our choices throughout the day are made through emotions, or logic, or habit, but the real fun decisions often have some imagination.

We also like to think that to be creative, we have to operate “outside the box.” Correct? I would venture to say that there is a huge amount of creativity that happens within the box. In fact, all art is expressed within a given, finite medium. The mediums we choose to express ourselves through are limited, and we ourselves are limited. We have our own perspectives, which are not all encompassing.

Let’s think about it in the some traditional artistic mediums. Painting: All of the colors that have been applied to a canvas are nuanced expressions of the three primary colors, red, blue, and yellow. Music: There are 12 notes on a chromatic scale – do, re, mi, fa, so la, ti and then do again, in a new octave. Poetry: There are a fixed amount of words in any given language. Cuisine: Our favorite restaurant may have a very limited ingredient list. ²”Yet, all of the greatest artists of human history created within these boundaries, but they found new or amazing ways to combine and rearrange these elements to give us something moving, beautiful and profound.”

These boundaries are actually a good thing. We, in fact, need these boundaries to make sense of our world and of ourselves. True creativity is not going outside of these boundaries, but in the ²”genius of unleashing untapped potential and unseen beauty within the constraints” of the chosen medium.

This is how Jesus lived. Jesus was not an artist per se, but think about all of the choices he made. He was unconventional. He chose to see things and act in ways that were hugely counter-cultural and still are. He talked to the people he wasn’t supposed to; sided with them, and allowed himself to be loved by sinners and judged by the so-called righteous. He had no limits on what was possible, and sure, as the Son of God, he was in a good place to operate that way. But he also inspired those around him to begin to operate in the same way. ²”The movement Jesus started was a movement of dreamers and visionaries, not a movement of academics and theologians.”

So, your turn: Think for a moment on the most profound or inspiring moments in your life. Were you alone? Did you share that moment with someone? Did you plan it? What made it so significant? Where was the creativity on that moment?

This is the important stuff! Life is not about getting a great job and having a family. Sure these thing are important, but our lives are meant to be about soul – the deep stuff, which happens to be where creativity resides. When we live creatively, soulfully, the rest then then falls into place.  Unfortunately, we live in a society that devalues soul. This has significant repercussions.

In his book, Care for the Soul, Thomas Moore identifies an important truth about our the soul. ³”When soul is neglected it doesn’t just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning.” We see evidence of this everywhere we look.³”We yearn excessively for entertainment, power, intimacy, sexual fulfillment, and material things, and we think we can find these things if we discover the right relationship or job, the right church or therapy. But without soul, whatever we find will be unsatisfying, for what we truly long for is the soul in each of these areas. Lacking that soulfulness, we attempt to gather these alluring satisfactions to us in great masses, thinking apparently that quantity will make up for lack of quality.”

Darkness and Light

Many of the greatest pieces of art and music are full of soul. Sometimes it is exuberant, at other times, full of despair. To examine and truly love our soul demands some appreciation of its complexity. We cannot have highs without lows, light without dark. And in my life, and in your lives, I am sure you have been on both ends of those continuums. But when we choose to live creatively, from our souls, we live a life with inherent risk, but a life that is deeply rich. We cannot live fully and be surprised when we meet with failure.

Creativity lives in both ends of the spectrum. I think that most of us, and I will include myself, like, and want to live in the happier moments. We avoid pain, we avoid difficult conversations and seek a cure for our “emotional ailments.” We think that we can just get rid of our sadness, or our depression, our anger and some of our uglier traits. But what if we can’t? Moore speaks of care and not cures, stating that, ³”a major difference between care and cure is that cure implies the end of trouble. If you are cured, you don’t worry about whatever was bothering you any longer. But care has a sense of ongoing attention. There is no end, conflicts may never be fully resolved. Your character will never change radically, although you may go through some interesting transformations. Awareness can change, of course, but problems may persist and never go away.”

Care ultimately contributes to a greater self-understanding. As we become increasingly self-aware, we consequently become more aware of all of our short-comings. There is a sweet irony in the notion that the healthier we become, the more clearly we see our imperfections and inadequacies. Well-being is not a journey toward perfection, but a journey toward wholeness. We are all familiar with the saying that life is not a destination but a journey. What a deep truth! It is a realization that the journey itself is what brings fulfillment and even joy.

Our Greatest Work of Art

The creative life is a journey where we are constantly interpreting our own stories. This in turn, tells the human story.  This is also the realm in which hope, redemption and love lie. The most powerful stories are the ones where people did not drown in despair, but overcame seemingly insurmountable circumstances or perhaps the ugliest parts of themselves, to find a way forward.  This cannot happen without creativity; without searching for alternative solutions.

The way forward is not for the faint of heart. We must be brave.  This is especially true in the realm of our lives as our greatest medium for artistic expression.  The bigger the dream, the greater the risk.  The more we create, the more we become aware of our limitations. ²”Great art transcends boundaries and travels in the infinite space of the human soul.” Think about the blind pianist, or the the paraplegic painter. These are people who did not see an end or a limitation. Their story is powerful not because they make merely art, but because they chose to live in a way outside convention. They made a choice to go beyond what most would expect from them, and perhaps what they initially expected from themselves.

Some of the most powerful works of art are at the intersection of contrasts. Where there is hope in the midst of pain, forgiveness in the midst of betrayal, courage in the midst of the unknown.  To turn our lives into masterpieces is to know both pain and healing, despair and hope, darkness and light. Our most powerful work comes when we reveal beauty in the midst of tragedy. When we value the boundaries and limits we create within, we are living in a way that truly reflects the divine. Our earth, creation, is a prime example. This medium   ²”does not limit God’s creativity but rather celebrates it.” God in his infinite power and imagination, made our planet, made us from from finite materials. “We are only human. We have all heard this somewhat disparaging evaluation of ourselves, but we are simultaneously God’s chosen medium for his most important work. We who are made of the dust of the earth have the capacity to carry out the most powerful acts of love.”

I spent many many years trying to figure out who I was, and truthfully, I think we are always doing that a little bit, though I am much more confident in who God created me to be and what I have to offer the world. What I do know, is that I want to live my life in a way that reflects creativity. Yes, in my profession, but more importantly in how I choose to interact with others, in who I am as a husband and a father, and a child of God.

It is not easy: as we grow older creativity is often replaced with conformity, originality with standardization. Some of you know what you want to do for the rest of your life; some of you have no idea. Some of you think you do but you really don’t. All of these are ok. We can all do many things and in fact you will likely try your hand at a few different disciplines and career tracks. I believe it to be the new normal. But regardless of whatever your job ends up being, there is a whole lot of room for you to each explore your deepest creative capacity. Your life – the choices you make, how you interact with the world around you – this, can be your greatest expression of the Ultimate Creator’s vision when he first breathed life into you.

So. Artists. Musicians. Biologists. Mathematicians. Farmers. Teachers. Ministers. Politicians. Multipotentialites. May you all find a way forward to craft your lives in ways that reflect the creative genius we are all made of.


 

1. Emilie Wapnick. “Why Some of us Don’t Have One True Calling.” YouTube video, 12:52. Published on May 26, 2015. https://youtu.be/QJORi5VO1F8.

2. Edwin Raphael McManus, The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art (New York: Harper Collins, 2011).

3. Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life (New York: Harper Collins, 1994).

 

LightBox Open House

LightBox Open House

LightBox is the name of our new studio.  It is a shared work space in downtown Goshen and home to R3 Design, as well designer Anne Berry and photographer Stuart Meade.  LightBox was named so because it is both a term used in photography and graphic design, but also because it describes our space so well.

It has been several months since we have acquired the space, and setting it up has been both a lot of fun and a lot of work.  Last week we had our first open house, which was a blast.  We piggybacked on the First Friday theme of Downtown Cruising and set up a photo booth.  Steady traffic brought faces new and old and we had a great time showing off our new digs and sharing stories.

See the full set of photos on our Facebook page.

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New Studio Space

New Studio Space

Thank you LaunchPad! It has been quite a journey. When I started my business a few years ago, I did not imagine some of the scenarios I have found myself in over the past couple of years. Becoming part of the LaunchPad family helped in my professional evolution in many ways. A dedicated workspace, personal confidence, networking and new connections. I am thankful.

In the coming months, a longtime dream will become reality. Having a studio space was something I projected several years out, but this little town has been so darn conducive to adventuring and so supportive to entrepreneurship, that my plans accelerated much faster than I imagined. I haven’t been unhappy at LaunchPad. One the contrary, as I have mentioned, it has been great. But I wanted a space a little more permanent and personal, with the capacity to set up all my art supplies and not have to lug around a laptop. And oh those windows!!

I actually sort of stumbled into it. Some close friends and colleagues of mine, had recently opened their own little space, Kendall Studios, a few months earlier. I went over to congratulate them and in that visit, got to see the neighboring space. At the time, I wrote it off as way too big for me, and probably too expensive. But the itch started, so I began scratching.

I slowly started looking around downtown, exploring different possibilities, nooks and crannies, getting more and more of an idea of what I wanted (and didn’t want). I just kept coming back to that first treasure.

Then it hit me. I am already in a co-workspace situation, why not continue in those circumstances? What if I could find a couple of fine folks to join me? It didn’t hurt to find out, so I began shooting out emails and long story short, I am thrilled to be setting up shop with local photographer, Stuart Meade and fellow graphic designer Anne Berry.

I really like the idea of a co-working space, and I am not alone. According to recent article in Deskmag, there are a lot of benefits.

  • 62% said their standard of work had improved
  • 88% report an increase in self-confidence
  • 70% feel healthier than they did working in a traditional office
  • 71% report a boost in creativity since joining a coworking space

Check. Check. Check. Check.

Furthermore, “co-working allows for flexibility in both time and space, attracting people who do their own thing but also participate within a community.” My experience once again. So what ultimately what really made me pursue this is how great a space it is. It is fantastic, with great light, a great view and so open.

Topping it off is the opportunity to work with a former client, Julie Bergdall of Red Door Design. She came in and helped make our group’s zillion ideas cohesive, and of course give it her own special twist. The evidence it below.

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The next month or two will no doubt feel eternal as we get the space set up. But everday I am thankful, and excited for what is to come!

Saturday Lettering Project

Saturday Lettering Project

A “good problem” to have is a lot of client work, but the flip side is I have seriously been neglecting this space!  As such, I want to share a fun little project I did just for fun.

This past weekend I had a little time to myself, as my wife was traveling and my kids were with their grandparents for an overnight. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t responsible to anyone else but myself, and I have to admit, it was kind of strange, and kind of glorious.  I had plenty on my to-do list, but since these occasions are so rare, I just ran with the recurring thought that kept coming back to me.

I MUST CREATE!

Full disclosure: Lettering is newer to me, but I really love it, and there is inspiration everywhere! Here are a few pics of my process.

I was really liking how it was turning out, so I took it one step further, making a digital version and mock-up.

I MUST Create - Framed

More disclosure: I have begun contemplating a move to find some studio space downtown where I can have all my art supplies laid out and a more permanent set up with my computer.  If and when I do, this little piece with probably be the first one I hang. 🙂

 

 

Pricing: Catching Rain with a Net

Pricing: Catching Rain with a Net

How much for…? Believe it or not, designers need to know as much as clients do! You might be hard pressed to find specific price points published by many design firms. The reason is simple; no project is the same and every client differs. Everybody, including me, wants to get a good deal when buying a product or services. However, it must be stated that it is almost impossible to give an accurate quote without an initial conversation.

For artists and designers, pricing can be one of the most frustrating parts of the creative process. To varying degrees, the creative process can be quite mystical and a final result somewhat subjective. This is also what makes this fun!

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It is completely reasonable (and the norm for most businesses) to know how much something costs. Can you imagine walking into a clothing store and instead of reading a number on a price tag, it just said “talk to the manager”? With web and graphic design however, there is a bit of a process. You may have started your quest with Google:

  • “How much does a website cost?”
  • “How much does hosting cost?”
  • “How much does a logo cost?”
  • “How much should a website/logo cost?”

I will venture to say you did not come away with definitive answers.  I want to give some background on why, and though I lay out some concrete prices, they are merely guidelines as every situation is different. You may have heard of the principle of “Fast, Good or Cheap — Choose Two.” This certainly applies in the world of design.

Hourly Rates, Fixed Rates and Package Deals

It is very common for designers to charge by the hour, though rates vary wildly depending on the experience, location, and many other factors. In hard numbers, this could mean anywhere from $10/hr to $500/hr for high level consultants. Most designers, myself included, offer different pricing structure as there is no one size fits all solution for every project. There can be a myriad of factors in determining a fair price, including the complexity of a project, type of project and mid-project direction changes.

Examples

Two designers charge the same rate, let’s say $50/hour. One designer works much more quickly than the other, completing a project in 10 hours, while the other designer takes 20 hours. Their final products might be comparable, but one designer is much more efficient and the client could end up paying double for the “same” work.
Two businesses, one a small start-up (the mom and pop type), and the other large company with national reach, both create and sell custom T-shirts. By chance, they both hire the same designer at the same hourly rate to create designs for them. Is the designer being fair? Who is really getting a better deal?

Basically, there is no exact formula. This means that a conversation is the best place to start. I as the designer, need to know what exactly you are hoping to achieve in order to most effectively reach those goals. As a client, the important thing to remember that you most often really do “get what you pay for.”

Spec Work

It is possible to acquire a very inexpensive logo, but that often means it is cheap. There is a difference. There are several websites that allow a client to submit “contests” and choose a favorite design submitted by many designers.  This is also known as “spec work,” short for speculative work.  This may seem like a bargain, but there is a reason that it is in fact so cheap. It also isn’t very fair, for the designer or the client. Aside from giving clients the impression that design doesn’t have much worth, it also penalizes the clients themselves. Contests do not allow designers to do the proper market research that a serious project requires. In turn, the client doesn’t not receive the most effective outcome and instead often subjectively selects  “the prettiest design.” The following video explains this further.

Logos

Not surprisingly, getting a great logo can be a quick and easy process or a very arduous and painfully expensive one. There are plenty of high profile examples that demonstrate this. How can it be that BP paid $211,000,000 for a logo, while Twitter paid $15? Ouch!

How much for logo design?

Designers commonly price hourly and with package rates as well here, depending on what a client is looking for. Logo package rates can include multiple versions of the logo, different files types (raster and vector format), different resolutions, grayscale/black and white versions, etc. With package deals, there may be a base price and additional services, such as branding consultation, stationary design, and so forth, can be added on.

Websites

With websites, even more so than with logos, there are many more unpredictable factors that will determine a final product.  Quotes are incredibly subjective. There are a whole host of ways of getting a websites, and the price range can range from next to nothing with certain services to tens of thousands of dollars.  That is a bit insane isn’t it!?

With websites, besides just having some basic pages, there are several things to consider that could also greatly determine a final price tag. These features might include (among others) :

  • Forms
  • Media Management
  • Bandwidth
  • Slideshows
  • Ecommerce
  • Support
  • Membership Management
  • Stock images/Image formatting
  • Event Management

I have read that pricing a website is a lot like pricing and building a new home. This is because there are seemingly infinite factors involved, and many changes can happen in the middle of the process. Additionally, a website is not just a product, but simultaneously a service, one that can be ongoing depending on its nature. Just as you might have upkeep and repairs and even remodeling with a house, a website often requires ongoing care.

Ultimately, what you budget for a website, logo or any other design services should be based on what your business needs are. So, how much for a website then? Let’s talk some more and we’ll both find out.

Time Management: Ebbs and Flows

Time Management: Ebbs and Flows

Ok, this will be the first, and unfortunately, probably not the last, post dedicated to time management. More specifically, one where I talk about finding time. I suppose another word for this is discipline. Honestly, I have trouble with discipline. It is hard. I eat too much sugar. I don’t meditate. I am very irregular at the gym. I am not as consistent as I think I am. Unless we’re talking about being consistently inconsistent with discipline in my life.

I want to say that much of the difficulty is due to a crazy stage of life. My wife and I have two young ones, a three year-old (we call her our “threenager”) and a one and a half year-old. Both are absolute joys; both are high energy. This makes for long days. I am usually up by 5:30 a.m., reporting into work by 7:00 a.m., home by 11:30 a.m. to feed my kids lunch and put them down for a nap, and then work for a few hours until they wake up, feed them dinner, clean up, have a bath, and then begin the night time routine. My wife, who works just about full time, comes home by 7:30 p.m. and we then get a few hours in the evening to decide whether we want to veg/hang out, do logistical items (like meal planning, laundry or house cleaning) or spend quality time together. We are usually both pretty exhausted knowing that in a few hours we do it all over again. Who knows if and how many times they will wake up at night.

So, some weeks I feel energized, some weeks I feel more like I should be on an episode of Walking Dead. All of this to say is that this is my attempt at being consistent. I have talked about not setting goals for 2014. For example, I am not trying to write X number of posts this year. I do, however, aim to be more consistent. More consistent in my work, family life and personal growth.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

This year, I am not setting any goals! You heard right!  There were a few that seemed really achievable as I was trolling to interwebs, like:

  • DON’T LET ANYTHING GET IN THE WAY…of eating a pint of ice cream in one sitting
  • IT”S NEVER TOO LATE… to forget a foreign language you vaguely learned in high school
  • SEE THE WORLD… with the magic of the internet
  • Something, something saving money
  • (see the full list here)

But in all seriousness, I start the year thanking my wife who has been a huge support for me in so many ways.  This is not to be taken for granted peeps!  A good woman is in fact priceless. She forwarded me an article on the differences between goals and systems.  The author of the article argues that a systems approach is much more effective “when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you.”

He then outlines the traps that people can sometimes fall into when setting goals and how they can actually be counter productive. They can induce stress, are often short-sighted and suggest that we can can control the uncontrollable.  Systems, on the other hand, provide a mechanism for ongoing progress that is both measurable and satisfying. When focusing on the practice instead of the performance, it is in fact much easier to enjoy the ride while getting better at what you do.  To me, this is essentially talking about discipline, an area where I  often feel lacking, but it is just different when you are doing what you love.

Ultimately, he concludes saying “Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.”

So, it looks like I can just do what I love, design. Also, did I mention I love cheese?

Just Get Out There and Start Eating Cheese

Beginnings and Endings

Beginnings and Endings

The year ends and so begins the next chapter of R3 Design.  If you are a first time visitor, let me back it up.

2013 was the year that I formally launched this venture.  For nearly a decade, I had “traditional jobs, ” freelancing and doing design on the side, mostly for fun. I loved it, and the more I did it and learned about it, the more I loved it. After getting pregnant with our second kid, my wife and I began thinking about being closer to family.  I had been working at the University of Virginia for five years, eventually becoming “Assistant Director for Engagement Communications” for our office. I did a lot of marketing and copy editing and while I had some room for creativity, a job switch seemed a perfect opportunity to dive head first into the world of design.

In the fall of 2012, we moved back to northern Indiana. Memories of my high school years and college days flooded back, though Goshen had changed.  I had changed as well, and with growing confidence, I was hungry to try something new.

I found myself in a difficult market, and the search seemed endless.  When a part-time opening for an office job crossed my path, I saw the opportunity to launch my own business and minimize the feast or famine dynamic of freelancing, and having some stability while building up a client base.  Not a full year later, I am pleased to have made some wonderful new connections while maintaining previous ones.

I remain uncertain of where things will go exactly, but that is part of the adventure.  Regardless, I am thankful for what has taken place, for how far I have already come, and am so excited to see what 2014 brings!

 

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