NEW YORK 2019 / 2050
New York 2019:
Hello from Brooklyn!
Last week I was lucky enough to be interviewed by the website ArchDaily. (Here’s the link if you missed it: https://www.archdaily.com/909672/in-praise-of-drawing-a-case-for-the-underrated-craft)
I’ve received some fantastic feedback from the article, with many people asking how has this happened so quickly?
That question makes me smile because it doesn't feel fast this side of the iPad. You could say where I am now is the culmination of 25 years graft, but the real change came three years ago when I started to work for myself.
After six months I had no work, and with a three-year-old and five-year-old that was a very stressful time. What I had underestimated was the sheer amount of marketing you need to do to get work. It is a relentless task, and after those first barren months I resolved to do some form of marketing every day, even if it was only posting an image on Instagram. The other big change was visiting offices to present in person, speaking to clients, and explaining what I did and why. Many of the presentations were a waste of time, but it got me my first job which led to my second and so on. Once you’re moving, keep pushing and it builds.
Last year - my third self employed - was the first where I had consistent work for an entire twelve-month period. It reached a point where I was fortunate enough to turn down work to concentrate on my writing.
This led me to my next challenge: upping productivity. In America working long hours has been given a Hollywood sheen of glamour. I disagree with that in principle, and think down time is essential to creativity. However, towards the end of last year, I simply wasn't finding time to both write and illustrate. Something had to change. I read about many different ways to increase productivity, and have been trying a few this year.
First, I started getting up 5 AM. This is a real struggle for me as I'm not a morning person! My kids get up at 6.30, and in those ‘extra’ 90 minutes I’ve been very productive so far. Being able to sit, distraction free, for a set period really helps you focus.
The extra seven or so weekday hours this produces is the equivalent of another full day (I don't do this at the weekends)
You can see from this picture, and the clock on the wall, what time it is. I'm writing on my iPad perched on an old teabox to keep my posture upright. I write with a bluetooth mechanical keyboard and either use iOS or Luna Display and macOS depending upon what software I need.
The second thing I’m trying is the Pomodoro technique. For this I work in intensive 25 minute bursts, then take five minutes off. I have two timers on my desk and work around their schedule. This has upped my productivity as it's easier to ignore distractions as I know there is a break coming up.
Yeah, I know this sounds a bit crazy, but so far in January I have produced 25% more work than in a typical 2018 month. I will write an update later in the year to see if the productivity gains continue.
One unexpected consequence of getting up so early is my sleep quality has improved. I used to go to bed as late as I could, get up late and rush my kids to school. Now I'm making myself go to bed early (between 9 and 10 o'clock) and because I'm so exhausted fall sleep immediately.
This picture is from the “Pillow” sleep tracking app. You can see I'm only awake for one minute. In the mornings I’m in a better mood with my children as I’ve been up (and had coffee) before they emerge.
New York 2050:
Finally an update of the books and design of New York 2050. “The Streets” is done and is being copy edited, “The Bridge” is going through a developmental edit. I was planning to keep my illustration and sci-fi career separate, but I decided earlier this year to draw a series of scenes from the books. I already had the designs in my head, and I love drawing, so it made sense.
So far I’ve designed and illustrated a mile-high tower, AI construction room, and an urban street scene. Next up is an aerial car, the NYPD uniform and Central Park. I’m not sure how I will release these yet, one thing at a time, but when I do, I will let you all know.
Best wishes to you all for 2019!