I get a lot of questions. One that pop’s up every now and again is for me to describe what a typical day is like here at 44HQ. Well, here is 6.10.2015:
Wake up time was about 8am. I’ve never been a early riser. Honestly. I knew that a LONG time ago. My natural hours seem to be anywhere from 7:30am to about 1-2am (I’m a night owl, what can I say…). So wash up, get dressed and give Kaya some hugs and kisses. She needs these and it’s my job to give them to her. Mr. Kito got some too (he’s the King of the Kitty Castle, or so he thinks). Breakfast was 2 eggs, a piece of toast and some greek yogurt, strawberries, almonds and honey on top. This combination seems to be a habit as of late. Coffee is already made – my wife Lynn rules. After a couple of sups, observing the gang of Gold Finches, a Nuthatch and a Red Bellied Woodpecker …and blank stares out the back doors onto the deck where the bird feeders face the forest, sleeves rolled up, I’m at my desk in the command seat.
Phone rings not long after this and it’s a long term design client (Pro-Cut International – here’s their current site). We’ve been redesigning the entire website and all my layouts have been approved so we’re moving on to coordinating things with the development team in Vermont. There’s also a laundry list of new projects to go over. New design layouts and refinements for existing catalogs, updates to sell sheets, logos to discuss, graphics to be put into order. I’m coordinating some brochures and owners manuals for their Rotor Matching Systems (aka on-car brake lathes) which are going to print so all files I’ve designed need to be tightened up, packaged in InDesign and sent out. That’s an hour conversation. I’ve got my new marching orders and a list is made of priorities.
Back to checking emails, replying to inquiries and sending out new emails coordinating parts coming in from my OEM’s for two project bikes. One is going out for review and I’m also making mental notes for today’s work in the shop. Through all this, I get an email from a bike shop in North Carolina I’ve been helping design their new shop’s logo and design 3 postcards that can dual as keepsakes or be enlarged to posters. They’ve picked two of the comps and it’s my job to put the finishing touches on the finalized logo. I bang out that design tweak right then and there and it’s off to them for review. How’s that for service?
So that’a a good hour of work right there. Now it’s time to get in and make final adjustments for the 2015 New England Builders’ Ball Poster art. That’s finished and tweaked, finalized art gets sent off to Eric. We’ll coordinate the finalized art once sponsors are all shored up so this is just for online promotion type stuff. I’ve designed the poster so I can lay in additional logos/sponsors at a later date without too many changes. Here’s that art:
Wash my hands of that project and it’s back to Pro-Cut with a lightning round of changes, edits and tweaks in both Adobe Illustrator and Indesign. Knock those out, send proof’s off to the appropriate parties and we’re on schedule for today’s work load. Oh, yeah – another email: Woodstock Farmers’ Market in Woodstock Vt. is making another beer… So I am designing THAT art too. (One of a very small handful of design clients I have on my roster I’ve kept). So I get back the feedback from that last comp, redo some things and knock that off to Patrick up in Vt. for review. It’s immediately approved. Whew… They went along with what I had in mind. Now I’m just waiting on specs from the brewer for the federal regulations and such regarding technical jargon on the label.
Another hour gone by – now it’s 11am. Pull out a few drawings and work on these for up coming clients in the list. Knock around numbers, measurements and specs for these clients. Noon rolls around and it’s time to take a break and eat lunch. Peruse bike porn on the internet for a minute or so, then make some lunch, sit down and relax. Do a little day dreaming about where I’m going to go for a ride – I think it’s a shortie tonight so I’ll take Kaya on that loop I’ve been enjoying recently and it will be on the single speed for an added layer of fun. Lunch finished, it’s time to switch gears, literally and go down to the shop, turn on lights, take Kaya out to the mailbox for our afternoon stroll down the lane together. She pokes around a little and then we head back over to the shop and she’s on her lead for the afternoon. Shop is cool so I keep the door JUST cracked in case Kaya wants to come in out of the sun. iPod hooked up and music is on shuffle. All those mental notes I made earlier flow right through to my hands and we’re knocking out this in jig time:
ISO mount on it’s tool into the Bridgeport to be trimmed/modified. Then hand tweaked to fit. Once that’s done I bend both the Seat Stay Bridge and ISO Brace. Both are then fitted by hand with file. This could be done on the mill, but it’s actually nice to take some steps by hand rather than do them on the machine. Adds a little personality to the mix:
So both are fitted up, I’m now ripping along to finish up these parts, clean, vent, degrease, clean again and then get ready to weld. So an hour ago I was designing on the computer, now I’ve got torch in hand and striking arcs:
Finalize that and get things all welded up. As I let things cool, I take the time to clean up, organize and put some things away for a fresh start the following day which will be all brazing operations. I can do that today, but by the time I’ve finished all this and in between fielded a few more emails/coordinated with some phone calls (I make frequent trips back and forth from the shop) it’s just about 5 O’Clock. I’d like to go for a ride though… So either work till 6 or 7 or go for a ride? Let’s go for a ride tonight. Brazing will wait for another day. I take some time also to take a bunch of additional photos of the progress of the build for the client from yesterday’s weld-fest of the frame. Button everything up – double check the gas is off and I’m headed back up to the house with Kaya in tow to suit up.
Suit up, get the bottles in order, get the bike on the car, tell Lynn the route just in case I don’t come home or am late so she knows where to find me… and we’re off (Lynn would normally come with but she’s going to take the day off from exercise to rest). The route chosen isn’t very long – maybe 5 miles? But it’s fun, incorporates some nice pieces of tech, a good down hill, a really nice climb and two good spots for Kaya to get water as it’s a bit on the hot side tonight. Gotta think about that when you have a dog who needs water too! Otherwise I reserve one of my water bottles for her. Forest is looking pretty lush since the last rain:
I want to finish in a field so I can take a mental break and just let my mind go blank. Not think of anything and even recall what I did today. Just let things go and refresh. This spot, which I frequent and you’ve all most likely seen a bunch of pictures is that spot:
Technically, you ride across this spot the opposite direction… but I shot the picture facing this way because it looks better. Go figure – you can’t take the designer out of the kid I suppose. So that’s one day. Multiply that by 5 and sometimes even 6? Maybe seven if I’m REALLY busy. Some days I’m in the shop till 7pm. Then back down in the evening after dinner to shoot bikes in the studio. Some times I’m down in the shop by 9am and I don’t spend any time in front of the computer. But this spring has been a busy design season it seems, so I’ve been spending a bunch of my mornings in front of the computer finishing projects or starting new ones. I really like the flow of both design and building bikes. Keeps both interesting honestly but each really drives / inspires the other. I take breaks throughout the day and often if one thing is not going well, I switch gears and do the other. Or even just put things down and go for a ride. Basically, my work day flows very naturally and I work very fluidly switching gears frequently. That’s when I feel I am at my best and happiest. Granted, from the outside this may look ideal – it is my ideal that is for sure, but don’t mix words here: This is work plain and simple. It took A LONG time to get here and a lot of dedication. I still have a lot of work to be done, but I feel like I’ve made some decisions that allow me to do these things I do. Life gives you opportunities, it’s your job to listen and look for those opportunities and not hesitate to take the necessary steps.
Till next time…