s e r v i c e
It's been a month now since my first s e r v i c e.
For those who haven't heard about it yet, every Thursday, 3 to 5pm, I try to arrange 4 meetings of 30 min each with whoever feels they need it. The times are announced on my Instagram and Facebook and it's up to you, whoever you may be, to message me and book a slot. During this short meeting, I provide advice, guidance or assistance on an existing problem or issue that is somehow related to design or art, the production of design- or art-related projects, photography, editing or even more practical things like invoicing or finding the "right" web designer. With Sarah Mayer, for example, we spent the time trying to figure out ways to get more people to vote on her entry during an on-going sustainability competition.
I began this initiative inspired by Zach Lieberman's Open Office Hours. It was because I love the work I'm busy with these days, but I spend too much time indoors alone, sending endless e-mails and editing photo and video, and not enough time out there in the real world, dealing with real-life problems and actively involved in other people's practices. So when I came across this idea of sharing 2-3 hours of my weekly time to help or advise others, something clicked. James Wallman, the best-selling author of Stuffocation, told me last week he is behind this idea and might even start doing the same soon. In his latest book, Time & How To Spend It, he draws a straight line between one's feeling of accomplishment and partaking in other's happiness. One could say it's not completely selfless then, but that's not the point — it's supposed to be of service.
It's been a blast so far and reactions overwhelmingly positive. So many people have been engaged to join the 30-minute meetings and more and more have shared it with their networks. To all those who joined in or otherwise helped spread the gospel — a deep and heartfelt thank you! For some of us, it's one of the most difficult things out there to ask for help, so it's nice when the help comes knocking on our inboxes instead. It's not always the easiest logistically, or practical during very busy weeks when sometimes meetings get cancelled last minute or I mess up in some way (like when I was in Portugal and forgot to announce the 1h time difference, whoops). But I tell myself it's a work in progress and learning is actually the most rewarding part of the challenge.
Sometimes, I can share some really useful advice and other times I'm told a little snippet of information that changes the direction of my projects or practice. Last week with Ninette Murk (of Designers Against AIDS and Beauty Without Irony) for example, I felt like I was the one getting solid life advice. But most importantly, it puts my life and work in relation to that of others. Because whatever they tell you, there's nothing more boring or alienating than only ever designing or making art for yourself.
In the words of Jimmie Durham: "Don't do your work for your friends, don't do work for yourself, do work for everybody, address humanity; that's what we want to do, we want to address humanity. Not exactly with something to say. It's yourself amongst other selves[...]"
That's what s e r v i c e is about.
I plan on continuing it this year, so send an e-mail and sing up!
Or, if you have all the help in the world you could need, share it.
Others may not be as blessed, as outspoken or as happy as you.