Whilst strolling through the Grand Rapids Art Museum, I stumbled upon a project that made my eyes pop. It was an ArtPrize entry in 2012. It was a 50 poster collection by a Grand Rapids art director, creating ads for the United States.
I scribbled the name down and contacted the artist, Joshua Best. (His work is done under the creatively named Geographic Designer.)
He likened his job at Extra Credit Projects to a modern day incarnation of Mad Men, which is unfortunately nothing like the glamorous life Don Draper led.
He said he got into the advertising field because he was an artsy kid in high school, but didn’t want to be an artist or an art teacher. Then one day he found himself realizing that everything needs a designer.
He pointed to the coffee cup sitting in front of us and said someone had to chose the color and the snowflake design; they don’t just show up.
But after a while, he found he’s not content with just his day job. He needs more. He needs to be productive, even in his off hours.
He moved from Canada to the U.S. three years ago, and as a self-proclaimed georgraphy nerd, he noticed states all have unique identities compared to the Canadian provinces.
“It turned out to be a neat branding project,” Best said. “Matching a state to a look. There’s so many states, it forces each one to take on an identity.”
Having a project outside of work keeps Best productive and on track with his plan in the back of his head. He wouldn’t share the exact plan, but hinted that it’s something we all hope for, to be self sufficient with something we enjoy doing.
But it’s not for everyone, we found in our discussion. Some people are lucky enough to have their hobby as their job. Others choose to keep them separate. Best said that there are benefits to both.
Sometimes, you lose the enjoyment from hobby if it feels too much like work. It also forces you to be good at your hobby, which can become stressful as well.
But that does come to a conclusion Best came upon.
“If it comes to a hobby, work, spiritual life, whatever, you have to go all out or you’ll be disappointed,” he said. “You don’t want to get to heaven all relaxed, you want to get there wiped out and sweaty, knowing you haven’t left anything behind.”
It’s very similar to TJ Duckett’s idea of using every bit of energy every day.