Mark Boulton

Weeknote 29

  • That was a busy week!
  • Launched a project. This was has been in the wings for about six years, ever since I initiated a similar project at Monotype that was canned. Type Specimens is part research and design project, and part publication. Looking forward to digging into the roadmap over the coming weeks.
  • Launched another thing! Well, really, Studio Boulton started a few years ago and quietly has been the vehicle for Emma and I to invoice through. It wasn't until very recently – after a few interviews and roles which clearly weren't the right fit for me – I've decided to give this studio thing another go. It's what I know.
  • Wiggle lost another of my parcels. Well, Yodel to be precise. Yodel do seem to be the worst courier around here to be honest. Just throwing the parcels on the driveway and not even ringing the bell. No photograph of proof of delivery.
  • Lockdown continues in Wales, mostly. It's noticeably way busier, though. Busier than a few weeks ago. From Monday, we're allowed to visit another family as long as it's outdoors and we stay two metres away.
  • The second wave is coming. R is about 1, maybe more in places. Hospital beds have dramatically fallen in London, but comparatively not as much in Wales. People are still getting sick and South Wales, where I live, seems to be one of the worst hit areas. Not surprising given the density compared to the rest of Wales.
  • Back to that work thing. It's been so lovely to get back involved with typography again. For a while there, it didn't feature in my work life much. I was a manager, managing people, managing upwards, sideways. I mean, really, I did not study typography to do that. I think it's taken me a little while to come around to the conclusion that I, as a designer, don't fit with the way tech is structuring design. I'm not just an IC, or just a people manager. In my experience, the best design managers – creative directors or senior designers – do both of those things. They have to. In order to critique the work, earn trust, create the right environment for the team, keep an eye of quality, mentor young designers, work cross discipline – all of that – requires a foot in both camps simultaneously.
  • I think I saw on Twitter a while ago say that if you are a VP of Design doing any design, then you're not a VP of Design. Sounds ridiculous, right? I think it was meant to mean 'if you're doing production work, you're not a VP'. Well, I agree with that. But if we take the former statement on face value, then do you really need to have any background in design whatsoever to be a people manager of a design function in a large corporate? You need to be able to scale teams, build head-count, deliver on strategy, etc. You know, my bet is there are an awful lot of very mediocre designers sitting in leadership roles because they were never meant to be designers at all. Managers, yes. Business people, yes. Design talent? Nah.
  • That sounded a bit snipey. Not my intention. I just get the sense that the template for how design teams should be in tech is too binary. It's too cookie cutter.
  • So lovely weather in Wales. The lack of rain is a little concerning, but it makes for some nice bike rides down the lanes by the coast if you can put up with eating at least a dozen flies every ride.
  • This past week has been half term for the children. A bit laughable, really, considering The Situation. But, they've enjoyed not having the added pressure of home schooling – whatever that is these days. Honestly, holding down two jobs, a dog, and home schooling two children at the same time is perhaps one of the most challenging things I've done. More so than climbing up three mountains in a day on a bike last year. That was a breeze in comparison, but there were some similarities: This is a marathon, not a sprint; Adjustment takes time; Make sure you eat enough; Try not to lose your temper.
  • Next week will be better. Our eldest has her new bike coming so we can go out as a family now I've finally gotten around to converting one of my old road bikes into a flat bar 1x gravel bike. I've been out almost every day with our youngest and it's been loads of fun. No idea why I hadn't done it sooner.

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