Week 12: Embracing Unproductivity, Hobbies v. Hustles, Back to Teaching

It feels stupid to even say it, but I have finally come around to accepting that on some days I will not be “productive.” I have our 35-year old house to thank for this reorientation. This house is older than I am, and I can only hope that I am not as run-down as this house in a few years when I turn 35. One fine morning last summer, part of a ledge collapsed. Two weeks ago, we were without power for half of Sunday because the electrical wiring has some unforeseen trouble. We are fortunate enough to have a garden, but it comes with occasional battles with pests. I spent the first year or so of living in this house feeling very frustrated. But after one such mini-disaster, I accepted that this is so. There are days that the house will unexpectedly need our attention, and on others, someone in the family or a friend need will our urgent help. I will fall sick sometimes, and there are days when my brain will simply not co-operate. No amount of urging will make it concentrate on the task at hand. All of this is ok. Instead of being angry, frustrated or disappointed, if I can, I accept that it is not a good day for work. Of course, I make up for the day, but it is not, by any means, a lost day to me. “Productivity” is not the end of the world.

In February, my type walks were featured in an article in The Hindu about creative practitioners and entrepreneurs. After sharing the piece on Instagram and Twitter, I re-read it and realized that I didn’t quite manage to get something important across. I love type walks, and run a few every year, but they are side-projects. I do them besides all the paid work that sustains my life, and it is only because of this paid work that I can afford to do them. The fees I charge cover the costs of the materials I give away, but not much more. They are a labour of love, and I enjoy sharing something I am passionate about with others, but calling them an entrepreneurial venture is taking it too far. The realization, unsurprisingly, came a few days after reading an article at Man Repeller about the obligation that so many of us feel to turn our hobbies into money-making projects, and at the very least, share them on social media.

I went back to a bit of teaching recently – nothing too involved, just a half-day workshop. And it was a good reminder of both how much I enjoy it, and of the amount of preparatory work it takes. Between 2014–2017, I ran different versions of the same introductory type design course at three design schools. And while that was great, it was fun to come up with a new workshop this time around. The workshop was for a group of young fashion design students (year 1 and 2), and the goal was not to introduce them to the rigours of type design or lettering, but to bring to them an appreciation of letterforms and their potential as patterns. I think we all ended up having a fun morning, and as always, I had a good time introducing a new set of people to the pleasure of working with letters. If you are interested in seeing what we did during the workshop, I have some photographs and a short description here.