Last month I made a life-changing decision to resign from my post as Creative Director of GridIron Software and return to self-employment. This was not an easy decision to make, particularly at this time of economic uncertainty but sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and do what you feel is right, deep down in your heart, despite the difficulties that it may create for you along the way.

I’ve been with GridIron Software for two years, working with a fantastic team on some truly ground-breaking products. It all started at IBC 2008 when I worked with the GridIron gang for the first time. They were a great bunch of folks – a really creative and inspiring team. I was doing some freelance work for them when Steve Forde (The CEO at the time) offered me the opportunity to see if a full-time role in the software industry was something that I’d like to pursue. I couldn’t imagine a better team to test the waters with. The GridIron gang were not a typical corporate software company, they were a bunch of engineers, stars of creative media business and designers who got together to try to break the mould and create something truly unique, which they did.

Before GridIron I’d worked as a freelance designer and animator for sixteen years and before that worked at various jobs including deejay, cartoonist and modelmaker. But self-employment can be exhausting and can take its toll. You end up diversifying to make a living and I had somehow become sidetracked into spending over 50% of my time working in the software industry for folks like Adobe and Apple as a demo artist. I felt divided at the time, as if I was being a jack of all trades, trying to split my time between two related but fundamentally different careers. Neither career was getting the full attention that it needed to make it blossom and I was literally exhausted from trying to make it work. So I decided to grab the opportunity with both hands in order to find out if working full-time was really something I wanted to do. I gave up self-employment after about twenty years of being my own boss and began working as Creative Director at GrdiIron.

I have learned so much during my time at GridIron and have made some life-long friendships so I don’t regret joining one bit. I learned about marketing and was amazed to find that it was something I actually enjoyed. I did some visual UI design which was something I’d always wanted to do but never thought I could – and I loved it. I learned more about software development and how the whole process works. I wrote user guides, web content, marketing copy and collateral. I learned the importance of creating good working structures, using statistics and listening to other people’s opinions.

But I’ve also learned a lot by looking back at my previous periods self-employment from a different perspective and recognizing both the aspects that I missed, and the ones that I didn’t. I learned that I really do need to have a creative aspect to my work. I need to work with lots of inspiring people from different walks of life and from different creative industries. I want to help other creative people to succeed in what they do. But most of all I want to feel truly independent and be able to say what I want, when I want. I have so much that I want to communicate with people and I need to do it my own way. I also learned that I want these things so much that I’m prepared to take a risk. Things have certainly changed since my last period of self-employment – it’s not as easy to find work now as it was back then. But the other thing I love is a challenge. I’m going to take a bit of time out to recuperate from a very busy year, get my thoughts together and then put everything I’ve learned into action. So watch this space – here goes! Head first into the deep unknown! Wish me luck I’m going in!

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