In May we had the pleasure of hosting AIGA Seattle President, Gage Mitchell to talk about he has created what he calls a “one-pot life,” combining his passions with his work. Six years ago, Gage started Modern Species, a sustainable branding & design studio. Gage feels we all have a responsibility to be more aware of our choices, thus sustainability in life and in his work are of utmost importance to him, as is delicious food, and craft beer. He wanted to design for businesses that share his ideals. So he founded Modern Species to practice responsible graphic design for forward-thinking organic and natural products companies.
In his journey to creating his “one-pot life,” Gage was inspired by a few people who had successfully turned their life’s passion into their life’s work. He shared their stories with us, and what he learned along the way.
Designer Randy Mosher had a strong interest in beer and brewing, leading him to write a book about homebrewing. Randy went on to write more books and eventually became a member of the faculty of the Siebel Institute, America’s oldest brewing school. His passion for design, design history, and craft brewing, led to a specialization in branding and package design for craft breweries.
Designer and Entrepreneur, Chris Bradle has a passion for running, and has spent the past 20 years competing in endurance events and building brands. In 2001, Chris started Eye Design Studio in Charlotte (where Gage previously worked). The studio specialized in Residential and Real Estate Branding. When the economy crashed, Chris closed the studio and went solo. He started a blog on running and gained attention and work in the Active Lifestyle industry. He is now the Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of Virtual Event Bags, which “provides a fully-integrated online platform for Event Organizers to efficiently and cost-effectively deliver sponsor messages to event participants.”
Amos Paul Kennedy Jr
Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. loves letterpress, he’s obsessed with it. So much so, that at the age of 40, he abandoned his career as a computer programmer to devote his life to his passion for letterpress printing. Amos lives to work and feels that he found himself when he found his passion. Amos tells his story in the documentary Proceed and Be Bold.
Gage learned something from each of the people whose stories he shared, and gave us tips on how to turn combine your passions into your work.
- Learn about yourself. Next time you get bored, use it as a time to focus on learning about yourself and what you want. Write down all of your thoughts, then make a list of questions from these thoughts. Look for connections on the list to find the next step on your path.
- Expand your mind. Don’t be narrow-minded when thinking of how to live your passion. Look at Randy Mosher whose love of drinking and brewing beer led him to write a book about it. That book started him on the path to focusing his work on a niche industry he had knowledge of.
- You are not stuck. Put the type of work that you want to do in your portfolio and that is the work that will come to you. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Be patient and keep working and sharing your work.
- Get past your fears. What is the worst possible outcome that you can imagine happening? Think about what you would do if that happened. This forethought will give you peace of mind when uncertainty arises.
- There is never a perfect time. Don’t wait for the perfect time to pursue your passion. It does not exist. Make a plan, set a timeline, and start somewhere. Take baby steps. Stop and reflect on your progress.
Gage also shared some book recommendations:
I think the lessons Gage learned and shared with us are good ones to remember and revisit whether or not you aim to combine your work and passions. They are just good life lessons in general.