12 things I learned about work in 2012

Don't let money be your master. You will do your best work when you're not thinking about money. If you're making more than you spend, living within your means, and have a roof over your head, you're doing alright.

Get things done on time; be on time for meetings. Fashionably late is not fashionable.
"Luck is where the crossroads of opportunity and preparation meet." -Seneca

The secret to getting things done is doing them. Avoid feeling discouraged by completing one project at a time. Stop saying what you're going to do, and do it.

You can only get better by doing. Dedicate time to practice – even just a few minutes a day – and your craft will improve.

Sketch and compile all of your ideas in one place - you never know when they will become useful.

There's more than one way to do things. Resist monotony, complacency, and bad habits by always trying new ways of doing things.
"Everyone is just making it up as they go along." -Frank Chimero

Never turn down opportunities. Learn from your mistakes (and the mistakes of others). Acknowledge the misstep and resume, without breaking your stride.
"It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to fall down. Get up, look sickening, and make them eat it." -Latrice Royale

Work the hardest you can every day – you never know who's watching. Good work begets more work.

Decide what you want, and set realistic, time-sensitive, measurable goals to make it happen.
"Decide who you are, decide what you want to do, and then do it, because it is surely possible.” -Doyald Young 

If it feels or looks wrong, it probably is. Believe in yourself, and stand up for your ideas.
"If you don't believe in your work, who else is going to believe it?" -Milton Glaser

Don't be afraid to take the best idea you've ever had and throw it into the wind. Assume, by default, that you could be wrong.

Best is the enemy of good. The simplest solution is often the most effective.

* See also: 12 things I learned about life in 2012

12 things I learned about life in 2012

In December 2011, I decided to pursue freelance graphic design full-time. Becoming self-employed was something I had dreamed of doing for years, but the idea was always very daunting. Could I make enough money to live? Where would the client work come from? Could I actually do it?

There were certainly some challenging moments, but on the whole, I can honestly say that 2012 – the year I turned 30 – was the most rewarding, happiest twelve months of my life, both professionally and personally.

Throughout the year, I complied an ongoing list in of mantras, life lessons and advice I was offered from friends, family and fellow freelancers. And I've always believed that the best thing to do with advice is to give it away!

A big part of last year was finding the balance between work and life, so I took my lengthy list, shuffled it around, and divided it into two parts: 12 things I learned about life in 2012 (below) and 12 things I learned about work in 2012 (coming tomorrow).

These ideas are not terribly revolutionary, but they were excellent reminders in a year filled with uncertainty. They continue to keep me centred and make freelance life a pleasure.

If you enjoy these or find them useful, please bookmark, read often  – and of course share with anyone else who might be interested.


p.s. Have a story or some advice you'd like to share? Please send me an email!

Drink more water. Walk. Run. Sweat. Nap. Sleep. Meditate. Sit up straight. Feed your brain nutrition-filled food. Listen to your body. Visit your doctor & dentist regularly. If your body is not at its best, your brain won't be either.

Don't wait for tragedy to remind you of life's priorities. Make the most of every precious moment.
"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose." -Steve Jobs

Worrying is like praying for things you don't want. Don't stress – or waste time thinking about – anything that is out of your direct control.
"To be calm is the highest achievement of the self." -attributed to Yogi Bhajan

Embrace the power of positive thinking. Envision yourself with the desired outcome, and it will be so.

Don't compare yourself to others; don't be jealous of what others have or what others do. Don't dwell on how things could have been – always look forward, not backwards.
"Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering." -from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Take actions to make things better, or let it go.

Life's trials inevitably come in waves – when it rains, it pours. Ride the wave, and learn to celebrate both the good times and the bad.

Reflect on your life's hardest times – you got through those, and you will get through these. Remember: there's always someone who has it worse than you.

When life speeds up, resist the urge to rush - count to ten, and move forward slowly, methodically, and confidently. Escape the busy trap.

Make it a priority to turn off your electronics daily, abandon the virtual world, and get outside. It is never selfish to take time for yourself and personal well-being.

Surround yourself with positive, creative, authentic, like-minded individuals. Inversely, disassociate yourself with impulsive, superficial, gossipy, disrespectful people.

Of bad energy, of old dogmas, of anything holding you back. Purge everything you don't need. Give it away, throw it out, recycle it - make room for new creative energy to flow.

* See also: 12 things I learned about work in 2012

Alphabet 100 print

I am proud to unveil the new Alphabet 100 print to my online shop. For 52 consecutive weeks in 2012, I chose one letter, drew 100 variations of it, and then rendered the best or most interesting option in Illustrator. After 5200 thumbnail sketches, 52 complete illustrations, and over 200 hours of work, this is the final compilation of letters in full printed technicolour glory.

When I started back in January 2012, I had no idea how the project would evolve. But as the weeks progressed, it turned out that most (actually, all but two) of the final illustrations represented something that started with that letter. One exception was upper case 'Y'; in this case, I substituted the lower case 'y', and created a new lower case version:

The second anomaly was lower case 'a', so I went back to the drawing board and created this version:

With these two revisions, here is the complete list of alphabet illustrations:

These 24" x 24" prints are ink jet printed in Toronto in full colour on 180gsm ultra white matte cotton-based art paper. Each illustration is 2" x 2".

More detailed photos below.

The perfect gift for any child, or the child in all of us. Purchase your copy here.
Thanks in advance!

Lift up your hands

Last night was the final performance of breathe.feel.love's production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Drake Underground. I wanted to take a moment to thank the BFL team for welcoming me on board as their graphic designer, and congratulate everyone involved – Seth, L.A., Jeremy, Devrim, Sarah, Matthew, Peter – on a hugely successful show.

If you weren't able to attend, below are some of the slideshow graphics I prepared for the production to accompany the poster and promotional materials.

Congrats again, breathe.feel.love!