No longer a designer for Heinemann Publishers, I'm now freelance, going under the name Hicksdesign.
The ship has been jumped. The big leap has been leapt. I've given up working for others and now work for myself.
Until today, Leigh and I both worked as Senior Designers in the Secondary Schools division at Heinemann Educational Publishers in Oxford.
This is something that's been gestating for a while - the potential flexibility of working hours and widening of design horizons was very appealing. While at Heinemann I met several people that told me their biggest regret was not being present enough when their children were younger. We didn't want Samantha, our six month old daughter, to be at Nursery more than she was with us. As Leigh was only allowed to reduce her hours to four days a week, but me going freelance would achieve that - Tuesdays and Fridays would be just Samantha and me.
There was also a professional aspect to this. We were solidly in the 'Print' design department at Heinemann, and I wanted to make the move to digital, but the nascent 'E-Learning' department was closed off to folks like me. I wouldn't get a chance to do any digital work in my role, so going freelance would be the only way I could get the space to learn.
The transition had started a year ago, learning web design with a free-with-magazine copy of Adobe Pagemill. My first ever URL was jphdesign.cwc.net - using free hosting supplied by our Cable and Wireless. Built in Pagemill on MacOS 9, using animated gifs and frames, this is all that is left of that site:
At this point, I'd just ditched the unwieldy 'Jonathan Hicks Design & Illustration'. The logo was just a mashup of glyphs from Zapf Dingbats! I decided to simplify to 'Hicksdesign' and Leigh had purchased the 'hicksdesign.co.uk' domain name for me. I would've liked to have thought of a more creative business name, avoiding the crass 'New Media' naming thats fashionable was a priority. Awfully crass stuff like 'Toasted Squirrel'. Boring as it is, my surname, and what I do, will have to do.
It's scary to have stopped a regular income. I'm concerned about not working with other people, and wondering if I'm cut out for the solitary lifestyle of working from home. I have a couple of clients to get me started, so onwards!