If you’re looking for some Summer reading to take the sting out of the current heat wave’s apparent determination to make long rides a test of your ability to pedal while subjected to dehydration induced hallucinations, consider “It’s All About The Bike” by Robert Penn (a little dis on Lance Armstrong’s “It’s Not About The Bike”). Robert, who has himself ridden around the world, sets out on a journey to put together the perfect custom bike – the bike he’ll happily ride for the rest of his life. He is determined to meet the people who make every part and shares his encounters – from the gang at Chris King in Oregon to the veteran craftsmen at Brooks in Birmingham. Along the way he weaves in a healthy dose of bicycle history in a way that makes it fun and relevant to what you’re riding today. (Well, not today because the heat index is like 107 degrees but you know what I mean.)
The cover is fun but on the whole the book is a bit disapointing as an object of design. The small black and white illustrations conspire with an uninspired layout to remind me of those scholarly journals from cultural anthropology classes in college. Thankfully this book mentions yams and the Trobriand Islands exactly zero times. Pick it up. Hopefully by the time you finish the weather will have cooled.
I just finished reading Rework by the founders of 37 signals Jason Fried and David Hansson. The authors’ brilliance is in making all the advice sound intuitively spot on, straightforward and achievable. It’s a reassuring book to read if you are starting out on your own. It was written to give you the confidence to work in ways that make sense to you rather than trying to recreate in miniature the bureaucratic, wasteful and often self-destructive habits many large companies develop over time. Jason and David lambaste growth, workaholism, meetings, delegation and many other tenets cherished by large companies.
If you’ve spent time in a traditional advertising agency were the lion’s share of a project’s time-line is lavished on the search for “the big idea” the authors fire a shot across that bow as well saying: “Ideas are cheap and plentiful. The real question is how well you execute.” If you are considering or have already started out on your own even this particular heresy will ring true. You are full of ideas. What you need are freedom and clients to partner with so your ideas can take flight.
Thanks to the recession the 1099 workforce is full of top level talent that may never return to the big agency world. Smaller scale projects seem plentiful and now is an amazing time to take your ideas and your inspiration for a ride. But as the authors say “…it won’t wait for you. Inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.”
My brother gave me a great book by Ana G. Canizares entitled 500 Solutions for Working at Home. It’s 423 pages of solid inspiration organized by type, including studios design for personal use, architecture, design, art and services. Each case study includes not just beautiful photographs but details, square footage and floor plans. This book is full of clever solutions from humble to lavish. At $15 new / $8 used (at Amazon) your investment could be as little as one and a half cents per studio solution. Of course there is a ton of inspiration online but it can be hard to track down and usually won’t come with this level of detail so this book is pretty good way to augment your search.