Working for myself

I did it, I left a fairly comfortable full time job at a prestigious design firm to start on my own. This happened in April of this year. Since then I’ve worked on an installation for a conference, organized a fundraiser for another installation, been to Venice to showcase a project at the architecture biennale, created an animation for a bunch of scientists, worked on two websites that are in production, curated speakers for a conference in Mumbai and gotten married. Its been a fairly tough yet exhilarating ride these past few months.

While feeling trapped in a full time job, I often read blog posts and articles about entrepreneurs who were doing their own thing to get inspired. There were stories of hardship, sweat, tears, failure, doubt, triumph and patience. Holding on to every word uttered by these veterans of entrepreneurship I started out on my own and yes, its a unpredictable ride. Since I’m the person who is going the other way into Brooklyn to go to my studio while everyone else heads to more commercial parts of the city to go to their 9 to 5′s, I wonder sometimes if I am going the right way. Doubt comes easy when you are swimming against the tide. But work wise it is easier for me to go against the tide since very few things interest me and I like to do them my way. I hate authority and I certainly hate being told what to do. I like being my own boss but it does suck when that bi-weekly pay check doesn’t come in.

Clearly, the work that doesn’t pay is the one I want to work on since it is more interesting and when one relies on money solely from ones so called business to pay rent and bills, it gets tricky. I think the only time I thought so much about money was when I had just come to the US for my grad school or when I started undergrad school and had never been out of my parents home. The common pattern here being that one is broke when one is starting off. I am hoping that things will even out sooner than later and money won’t matter anymore. Not that it does matter a lot right now, other than the fact we make our own lunches and won’t probably take a decent holiday till end of next year.

So what am I doing right now? I am trying to do business development for our company Urban Matter Inc. It is a multidisciplinary creative studio. Why is it multidisciplinary ? Because doing just one thing bores me. What do I hope to achieve doing this? I hope to create, produce and get better at the craft of self expression through design and art. I believe in Ira Glass’s take on the creative process about creating work and creating a lot of it. I want to put in my 10,000 hours doing work at my own terms and hope that I don’t fail miserably. Freedom comes with a lot of responsibility and I am not known to be responsible so I might be in big trouble but I guess it is worth a shot. I am horrible with full time jobs. I have a problem with my temper. I am grumpy and morose and terrible when I am not happy with my work. I don’t think I would ever succeed outside of this world and then I do not know if I have what it takes to succeed as a business woman.

One thing that I’ve been trying to think about is what we want to sell as a company. What differentiates us, sets up apart. For now, its just the fact that we have some cool participatory, community driven work on our site, most of it is unpaid, some of it was done with non profits, some of it is self initiated. I mean if what sets me apart is my penchant for cool unpaid gigs, then I am in deep trouble. But it would be terrible to do work that doesn’t resonate with people. There is enough technology and connectivity out there to make a whole lot of difference and it would be great to build something worthwhile and gratifying that does pay.

I guess thats why I am where I am at, because I do get to pick and choose what I want to work on and how I want to spend my time. I’ve been told by friends that I look rested. Other than the fact I’ve been sleeping late because I make my own hours, I do get to get up and work on projects or look for projects that would make me happy. Making money off of good work should be a matter of time. Good work comes from time and patience. Hours working on something also make it better and hones it down to its bare basics and your style and voice emerges. Things are not so confusing then. Finding your voice and purpose and making money off of it is probably the best thing in the world and I hope I can get there someday.

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