window blog - 010213 - presspausebreathe
January 2nd, 2013

Press Pause, Breathe

Tim Quirino

I'm writing this on the eve of a new year. For many people, this is the perfect time to recall what has happened in the last 364 days, and I can't really blame them.

The truth is, the direction of one's own life can change in a manner of minutes, even seconds- so after a year there could be any number of words to describe the things that have given me reason to pause, fight, and create in the year 2012. But in an effort to remain topical and brief, it'll only take me 700 words to express my first year at P'unk Avenue as the Interactive Designer.

Geoff emailed me 355 days ago to find out if I'd be interested in joining the team as a designer. Having spent the majority of my creative career commuting out of the city and throwing ideas (and occasionally my own head) at brick walls, this particular email dropped in at the right moment. I joined shortly thereafter with the intention of rediscovering my desire to create - this time, to directly benefit the purpose-driven organizations P'unk Avenue decides to work with. 

Sixteen websites, two prototypes, two t-shirts, one custom beer tap, multitudes of site maps, presentations, and wireframes have led me to my most prolific year yet. And that's only during business hours. Working at P'unk reignited a fire within that I thought burned out in my corporate cubicle years ago.  

I mean, it was no simple task producing and directing the visuals for the 2nd Philadelphia Geek Awards - something I was thankful to have loads of help with from my friends at Klip Collective.  Sprinkled in between big projects there were a few minor speaking roles and even 2 teaching engagements at UArts. 

I didn't get much sleep. On the contrary, I stayed up late most nights working. It was one thing after another. From one small task to the next large task, and then in the morning a mid-sized task. If i was lucky I could even hit a few items before my morning coffee. You could say my plate was so full even a hobbit couldn't clear it.

But isn't that what I wanted? At the start of this past year I transitioned - no - leapt from a comfortable job at a major international retailer to a team of a dozen extremely smart and talented people. I no longer wanted to spend 2 years on a single product, because it felt like running around in circles. Instead I wanted to create a lot of work, have it released into the wild and then observe closely as everyone else interacts with it. This isn't the work of someone who takes it slow. It's the frenetic energy of someone who can't sleep because of the ideas tugging at his eyelids.

So? Well that's precisely it. I reached a mental impasse and my head started to leak. The work started to reflect it, and so did my work ethic. After some thinking, my big takeaway for the year was to make an effort to take things slow. 

I learn by doing. It's always been the most effective way for me to grow, but I've always forgotten to complement it with a pause. After all, what good is a steady hand and a decent set of design skills when the designer isn't even thinking? I found myself increasingly prone to pausing toward the end of the year, with easy questions like "Does this accomplish the goals we established?" Sometimes I'd even stop and ask myself some of the tougher ones like "C'mon Tim, is this right solution or the lazy one?"

Oh, how it paid off. Instead of fighting against the client, I was fighting for the client, their goals, and our ideas.  Did it take me all year to figure this out? No, but it took the experience from this year to have these words. The disturbing realization is concluding that I hadn't given my work the thought it required in the many years before this one. 

I get it now. I can finally find the humility to say real work is done with thought and pause, and that is the P'unk Avenue way.