Adventures of an Introvert In the Wild: Event Recap No. 2

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What is this series, you ask? This 1-min read will explain. Moving on...

Yesterday I went to a talk hosted by The Creative Party/Mathys-Potestio at Instrument where three Portland-based creative directors spoke.

The topic was side-hustles and the speakers were all so inspiring and awesome. So much so that I maybe almost cried...maybe. What I found most inspiring about their talks was the emphasis on side-projects as a way to develop yourself on a holistic level and the ability of side projects not to detract from your professional work, but to sharpen your professional skills — even if said side project is something completely different than what you do at work.

Aimee and Gaby spoke about their side-project, P-Ink. Adam spoke about his many side-projects and viewing oneself as a holistic being, not a person fragmented by a “day job” and “side hustle.”

P-Ink was started by Aimee a few years ago and it’s a project that connects breast cancer survivors who have undergone mastectomies with tattoo artists who partner with P-Ink to do mastectomy tattoos pro-bono. It provides an alternative to reconstructive surgery and is a way for these women to reclaim their bodies....................I’m not crying, you’re crying.

For Aimee, this was a way to give back and get out of the monotony of everyday work-life. For Gaby, this was a way to get creatively unstuck and reinvigorate herself. In speaking about this project, both women discussed the realities of working full-time while running P-Ink.

What I especially appreciated about both of them is that they didn’t sugar-coat the challenges faced when pursuing a side project. Burn-out is real. Sacrificing happy hours and weekend trips so you can take care of yourself is real. Creative ruts are real. But if you make sure this is something you’re doing for you, it will be worth it.

Gaby also gave the actionable suggestion for people to intentionally celebrate the completion of projects. For many creatives, the completion of a project is almost immediately followed by the beginning of another. But by celebrating the end of a project with an event like a party or happy hour, you can pause to truly appreciate the work you’ve done.

My main take-away from Adam’s talk was the idea that everything you do is related to one another, even if they seem disparate. Your day job might seem very far removed from your participation in a dance troupe or your embroidery hobby, but in reality, everything you partake in influences each other.

Though most people logically agree with this, much of our vernacular emphasizes partitioning our lives.

We have our “day job.” We have our “social life.” We have our “side-hustle.” Adam’s talk really asked us to consider why we do this. Side-hustles can help you at your day-job and vice versa. Playing cello can improve your programming skills. Dancing can influence and improve your typography. And so on and so forth.

Yet many people feel afraid of discussing their side projects at work and with their bosses. Adam emphasized that it doesn’t have to be this way.

He made the argument that it’s better to let your coworkers and superiors know about these projects as they serve to develop you as a well-rounded person, and ultimately a better employee. Both Aimee and Gaby reinforced this and gave personal examples of how letting their coworkers and bosses know about their side projects helped everything run more smoothly.  

Hearing about all these side projects refilled my inspiration-tank and reinforced my excitement in pursuing a design career! Though I’m still in the early stages, I’m excited to make cool things with cool people that help others.  

Also, I met two designers who expressed interest in joining me to other meet-ups and hanging out! So yay for talking to strangers!