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2006 eh? | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

2006 eh?

If I look back to this time one year ago, I couldn’t have predicted the journey that got me to where I am today as I write this. Last year over the Christmas holidays was a difficult time for me. Everyday as I walked near the river valley in Edmonton I really wondered if I was ever going to have the chance to find a better place to design, or had I basically hit a really low ceiling where I was working at the time. I also wanted to get more out of my walks and thought a dog would be a great friend to have while I was outside.

Near the end of January right after Tamara’s birthday we decided to get a weimaraner. I drove a couple hours outside of Edmonton one weekend to meet w/ a breeder and to take a look at all her pups. I instantly fell in luv with all of them, but of course they weren’t available yet and we’d have to do some interviews w/ the breeder before we would be accepted. A week after that process started we came home w/ Madison Ruby who was one the original pups that jumped on me the most.

Not soon after that I left my job that I had been at for the last three years and had the chance to work in a design friendly environment for the first time in quite a while. I also became friends w/ a bunch of them and still stay in touch now that I live in New York. Working on a college campus is quite a bit different from a corporate setting, and I enjoyed the attitude adjustment immensely. The only issue that I had was that it wasn’t New York and that’s where my goal to work was.

As winter ended and spring came around the corner the National AGM for the GDC was hosted in Edmonton. Between meeting people in New York and helping to organize the Nationals I was way over extended. I also had a puppy for the first time too that needed a ton of luv. The AGM itself was a lot of fun in terms of meeting w/ a lot of the National members who shared the same passion, but I felt the Sunday planning session didn’t accomplish a lot in terms of future communication. A couple months later I would step down from my new National role as I didn’t get the feeling that I could get anything accomplished. It should have been so easy to set up a National GDC blog and a web forum within the first couple months. But it was never going to happen under those that have been in the system for a long time.

June 9th changed everything for me. I was headed to New York for a break when I posted something on my blog. I was curious to hear from others about what I should visit when I head back there. Not knowing Noah at the time, he suggested a book about the secrets of New York. Wanting to thank him for the suggestion through e-mail we started a conversation that ultimately led me to saying goodbye to Edmonton and moving everything to New York and working at Renegade. The whole thing started from a blog post – amazing isn’t it?

July was insane. Tamara and I sold our house, we sold most of our stuff, we had a party or two, and more importantly we had to have the confidence that it was the right choice. My workplace was quite supportive of the move and I’ll forever be grateful for that. It takes a lot of character for the people you work with to support you w/ a huge move. Steve, Randy, John, Christian, Kim and Rob, I really appreciated that. When I had left my last job that last February it wasn’t nearly as pleasant.

So in mid July we packed up what we could in a U Haul and drove across North America to New York. The drive itself was quite stressful as being on the road for ten to twelve hours at time will do that to a person. Five days later we we’re here. Arriving in New York was made so much easier w/ Ben and Melissa helping us along the way. A week before we got here, they had moved back to New York and were able to understand what we were going through. I also had Caren show me some great places to eat.

I got to feel heat like I’ve never felt before in August. I walk to work everyday and man, during the heat wave I didn’t even want to walk a block, never mind one mile. But somehow I managed through it. Overall the first couple months were quite an experience for me. Time really does fly fast here, months seem like weeks, weeks are days and days and small breaks. At the end of September it was time for my birthday and it was celebrated in a New York way. Then the time accelerated again and it was time for Renegade’s seasonal party (a couple weeks ago). Christmas arrived and it was time to do some of the things that people come to New York at Christmas time to do. The only weird thing is that I still haven’t seen any snow yet, and that is something that I have never experienced until now.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve been sick w/ the flu since the day after Christmas. For a couple of the days I barely had the energy to get out of bed. I’m almost past it now, and it’s nice to get that feeling of being 100% again. Now that I’ve had the chance to reflect on things, it really is insane to think of where I was a year ago and to consider where I may be this time next year. My only words of advice are this – dream big and start a blog.

Best, Michael

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  • http://www.noahbrier.com Noah Brier

    That is quite a year my friend.

    Congratulations, you deserve it.

  • http://monctonpixels.blogspot.com Brian Branch

    Nice letter. I have been reading some of your posts for a few weeks now. I have to say I was looking for a good blog with content from NYC. Finding one from a fellow designer and Canadian I should add are extras I really enjoy. Since I was there for a workshop a few years ago, I try to stay connected in some ways with the city. But my goal is not to move there. I’d really miss the country living and the snow… Happy new year to you and to all the readers.

  • http://www.spintechnologies.ca/flashblog Randy Troppmann

    I know I have said this before … but I really enjoyed working with you in the brief period you were with us before Renegade stole you from us. I have been a graphic designer for 17 years and our many “discussions” brought the designer in me back to the forefront. Your blog continues to inspire. Happy new year.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/litherland litherland

    If ever anyone was meant to be in New York, it’s you. Glad you’re here.

    We still need to go to Savoy and the Tasting Room, though.

    Caren

    PS I’ve always loved that UPS photo.

  • http://designnotes.info/ michael

    Hey Noah – I’m sure you’re tired of me saying this, but thanks.

    Brian – I appreciate your time here. It’s always interesting to know who’s coming to my corner of the world and why. I almost miss the snow of Saskatoon and the cold of Edmonton… and thanks.

    Randy, we’ll always have msn. I can always count on you to have something smart to say, of course that’s when you’re not mouthing off to me about some cool runningmap app you just created. and thanks.

    Caren – It’s funny how I don’t think I could ever get tired of hearing that. and thanks.

  • http://jasoneneglish1.com Jason

    Glad you’re here. And thanks for adding my low culture manifesto on NFL QB wives to your del.icio.us. It’s one step away from leaking a sex tape.

  • http://designnotes.info/ michael

    No problem Jason: here’s the aforementioned url just in case anyone is wondering what Jason is actually talking about http://jasonenglish1.com/?p=349

  • http://flickr.com/photos/melissaharrell/ melissa

    congrats on the new look of your site, i love it! i’m so glad we met you & Tamara and were able to adjust to NYC together, you guys made the 2nd time so much more fun.

  • http://tokyohanna.blogspot.com/ Johanna

    Wow Michael, there are quite a few similarities between us here! My career started through a blog as well, and I also moved to New York in August. Also, I had been meaning to write a reflective blog post, but have been sick for the past few days. Your story was very inspiring, and I hope as many people as possible read it. Hope you’re feeling perfect by now! Happy 2007.

  • http://designnotes.info/ michael

    Hey Melissa I don’t forget when people help me out. Especially when it comes to the first couple of weeks I was here.

    Johanna – no wonder we keep bumping into each other when there’s a bit of a parallel going on. I appreciate your comments as I just needed to reflect Jan 1st. If there’s one good thing about getting sick, it’s that you appreciate getting back to 100% normal which is where I’m finally back at.

  • http://williamcatherine.typepad.com Callie

    Hmmmm, I feel like this is where I am in my life right now. Life after grad school has been disappointingly flat. Maybe it’s all this Seattle rain. I’m ready for a geographical change. Just planting lots of seeds right now. Waiting for them to germinate is the hard part.

  • http://designnotes.info/ michael

    While I’m just a lowly undergrad Callie, I felt the same way after University. It took a very long time for me to get to the level of inspiration that I had when I was in a learning environment – actually six years but who’s counting?

    Just from experience it’s amazing where the seeds will grow. Places that I thought would be easy growth didn’t work out while those that you don’t think about much have had interesting results…