I live my life by these values and operate my business in the same way.
“There is no business to be done on a dead planet”
— David Brower
1. Planet First
For me, the natural world is a bottomless source of wonder and power. It is as influential on my life and work as any great typographer, musician or artist. But the natural world is far from a bottomless resource for us to continue abusing. As such, I try to work with businesses that leave a low environmental impact and have strong ethical values. Because why wouldn't you? I make every attempt to behave the same way myself. As of September 2019 I have been reviewing the environmental credentials of all the companies that regularly provide D.A.P. Ltd. with goods or services. This includes hosting, stationery, online services, banks, and transport. I think my bike has the transport angle sorted. I will be reviewing progress here.
Making simple things is hard. Simple things take time. But they are worth the extra effort. Simple things last longer and are easier to build on down the line. They are timeless, resistant to trends. Whether we're talking physical materials, lines of code, or elements in a page layout I'm aiming to use as little as possible. John Muir used to take only a tin cup, a handful of tea, a loaf of bread and a copy of Emerson when he went hiking in Yosemite. Carry less. Use less.
Small is beautiful. Small is sprightly and committed. Small isn't obsessed with growth or getting hassled from the suits above. Small is working hard in your shorts. Small is unencumbered and curious. Small jumps at the chance to collaborate when a job requires it something extra. Small is less vulnerable. It has longevity. Small works hard and enjoys the fruits of its labour. Small is beautiful. Most definitely.
The more we know the less we speak. And the more we listen. The best thing I can do for you is listen hard when you tell your story. I write clear code, provide transparent costings and invoices and never spring nasty surprises on my clients. I will tell you if we can do something better. I trust my clients to trust me.
Great carpenters use strong joints throughout a cabinet, not just in the places they are visible. Learning this as a kid made a lasting impression on me. I do the same in my work, taking time to see to details that may not be obvious but make a huge difference in the life of the things I make. Poor handiwork leaves marks all over the character of a project. Most of my clients have been working with me for a number of years. The projects we build together get revisited, expanded and adapted all the time. It's important they stand up to being pulled about whether it's in the first year or the 5th. The internet changes fast but good design principles endure.
Weirdness is all the things that make us ourselves. Our contradictions, our backstories, our upbringings. We're all weirdos, but being Weird means accepting all the things about ourselves make our outlook unique and in my case make me a better designer.
I love getting my head down and doing a hard days' work. Work produces some seriously tangible rewards: nailing deadlines, putting food on the table, an accessible sense of accomplishment. I also take every opportunity I can to down tools and pick up the toys. I'm talking pencil and sketchbook. The freeflow of ideas that comes from the interaction of eye, hand, graphite and paper is like no other. Sometimes play directly influences work, sometimes it's enough for its own sake. And of course, play is work too. They are two sides of the same coin.
8. Embrace Routine
Great things can be achieved slowly and incrementally. Hardwood is strong because it grows slowly. Building an idea in small parts, spending a little time every day, each week all adds up to substantial progress. Build a routine, be consistent. Make changes to your life and work by integrating them into your routines. Routine may seem like an uncool word to use when discussing values, but it's a powerful force for change. Like simplicity, routine is less vulnerable to trends: Show up. Do the work. Simple.
9. Be nice