One Year In.December 11, 2018 – Studio News
It’s been a little over a year since we launched Night Shift, and I feel the same way now as I do at the end of any year – smarter than I was last year, but far less smart than I hope to feel next year. Like I have a firm and solid grasp on our business, until the once-a-month-moment wherein I say something boneheaded to a client and I feel like I’m back at square one. Some things have become clearer, others have become more cloudy, but even the clouds have more shape now than they had a year ago, so it feels safer to sail towards them.
One thing that’s become much more evident to me over the last year is the fundamental important of experience. Not unilateral, how-many-years-have-you-done-this experience, but the familiarity, comfort and composure that comes with the feeling of ‘I’ve been here before’. The more we work on a certain type of project, or with certain clients, the more we fall into a rhythm. At past jobs I was always worried that if I became too relaxed, it would mean I would get sloppy, so I stayed vigilant and alert. In Night Shift’s first year, I’ve realized that it isn’t that type of relaxation at all that you fall into. It’s the relaxation of performing choreography that you’ve practiced over and over again. It’s taking something from a concerted effort and having it become second nature.
I never felt that type of relaxation when I was a designer working for other companies, because with design was my only obligation, every effort was funneled through the lens of design. Now that we have a whole other criteria of responsibilities to manage, the times when we are designing, or talking with a client about design, become these separate moments that are distinctly practiced. There’s a cycling adage which has been popping up in my mind lately. That a good cyclist should ‘train their weaknesses, race their strengths’. We’ve been training all year with writing contracts, creating proposals, estimates and invoicing processes, managing shared asset libraries, using project & asset management software (shout out to Asana, Trello, Slack, Zeplin, Dropbox, WeTransfer, Google Drive, Jira, InVision, Sympli, LeanKit, Monday, Freshbooks, Everhour and Dayswork), and more of a struggle than anything, trying to keep our business hours even close to the boundaries of normal business hours.
Those have been our mountains, but our descents have been in working out new creative processes, working on new projects with familiar skills or familiar faces.
We’ve had hurdles, more personal than professional, but have gained so much more from our first year than either of us would have imagined. We are still as excited as we were a year ago about the laundry list of things we want to do (first and foremost updating the design of our site for the first time since we launched. Every weekend starts with ‘I think I’ve got time to update it’ and ends with ‘I think next week looks a lot better’). Which makes me feel optimistic for the year to come. We’ve spent a lot of this year tired (shout out to our two cats), but haven’t wavered in our enthusiasm for Night Shift. It still feels like the beginning, which I am optimistic that it is. Every time I look at our homepage I read the headline we put up during our launch week and think ‘we’ve been at this a year, we have to update that line’, but in reality, a year is such a short amount of time, and we really are just getting started.