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3 positive gems from 3 years as a one man band studio

Pete Clayton is Made in Plymouth’s Creative Columnist; an illustrator, animator and graphic designer based in Plymouth. Not a born native to the city and region, but a fully bred Plymouthian who’s lived here most of his 41 years… man and boy! In work, Pete’s purpose as a multidisciplinary creative and writer is to share his love of what he does and in turn give people an inspiring creative lift. Here he gives us a look into his three years working for himself and finds that gems often shine brightest in the dark…

Weathering the storm of ups and downs of being a one man band studio is part of the territory unfortunately. I quickly learned that work isn’t always there when you need it and your finances can take a hit resulting in a lot of stress and worry about the sustainability of my business. This coming October will be my third full year of being a solo creative entity and boy has it been a tough ride. I know what you’re thinking… Pete, this is supposed to be a positive story article. Indeed it is. But I feel that I need to nod to the darker times for they make the more positive bits shine brighter. So yes, there have been dark troubling times but in the rough of it all have been some absolute gems twinkling and reminding me that it hasn’t all been bad. Here are three of those little sparkling gems that remind me to keep going.

  1. My out of home studio space
    From the beginning of my solo journey I was lucky enough to get a desk at Brand Biscuit Studio in Alma Yard. I am one of 11 creatives who share the collaborative space daily and this has been a godsend for creative opportunities. More importantly it is the mix of people there that have really made this a huge sparkling diamond in the turbulent sphere of creative entrepreneurship. This biscuit tin of creatives have been integral to me for friendship, for advice, for my mental health and for keeping me focused when the going has gotten tough. Their council and companionship has been extremely invaluable to say the least.
  2. More time with my kids
    Pretty early on I found that I have a lot more flexible time to spend with my loved ones. Most importantly, my son and daughter. School runs, summer concerts, sick days, school holidays, you name it I can do it. There’s a really healthy balance of time there which has meant I can be a more attentive father figure in their lives. Their mum and I split four years ago and before those times I was only really focussed on work and not much else. Since the split and working for myself I have realised a lot of things and that time spent with my kids is golden and far more important than working. Seems stupid to say really, I mean what’s more important than your own children? Whatever my headspace all those years ago, this freelance journey has been a monumental heart-opener for me as to what is really important.
  3. I get to do the work I love on my terms
    Whilst my life isn’t work, work, work all the time it is obviously a large part of my waking day. As I have said, the work sometimes isn’t always there but when it is I feel a great sense of achievement that I am doing something that I am not only passionate about and it’s for the most part on my terms. Clients have come to me for what I do well creatively and whether that’s as frequently as I’d like or not, you can’t beat that special feeling and excitement when the work is there. It may be quite egotistical but I feel pride in what I’m building and what I can collaborate on with my clients.

So there you have it. 3 amazing and positive takeaways from (almost) three years in business. Yes there have been dark and uncertain times but I’m trying to focus on the shiny parts as much as possible. It’s a journey anyway as I do waiver into the negative path from time to time. Still, what I’m building isn’t over yet and I will (as the inspirational Dylan Thomas wrote) not go quietly into that good night!

Thanks for reading. Pete 🙂


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