Focus on creating the things that excite you. Always try to get better and try new things. Remember that there is more to life than work.
Eight Hour Day (EHD) is a husband and wife design and illustration couple that loves to create. Nathan Strandberg and Katie Kirk met in design school, got married, and started making together. The duo has produced award-winning work for clients like Target, The New York Times, The Harvard Business Review, and the Walker Art Center. Katie told us, “The fact that I get to be married to, and work next to my best friend every day is pretty damn amazing. It has definitely let us define our lives in ways I never thought possible.” Their website says, “We aspire for the designed life(style): a place where work, life, and inspiration are all equal and integrated organically.”
We were especially interested in EHD’s decision to take a year away from the office and travel across the country. When they first considered a permanent move to San Francisco they realized that they could rent vacation homes across the US for a year at the same cost. Katie said, “As soon as we figured that out we both knew that was what we wanted to do. I think we felt restless. I think we were looking for an adventure. I think we were looking to answer a lot of questions we had rolling around.” Their travels led them across the US and Europe to 10 cities in 12 months. They landed in San Francisco and told us, “We’re really excited to be settled and put a full 100% into the business again, which was difficult at times on the trip. I think we’re excited to have that time to focus again—I don’t think we’ll take it for granted ever again.” Nathan and Katie shared their self-initiated trip through a blog on their site, which you can check out here. In addition to their cross-country journey, we asked about their self-made book, Eli, no!
Eli, no! is a children’s book inspired by the couple’s own chocolate lab. Katie said, “The muse for the project was actually our nephew. Whenever he would come visit, I would trying to wrangle Eli and say, ‘Eli, no!’ Every time I said it, our nephew would say it too! He liked how much fun it was to say. I just thought, what a great idea for a book, a great refrain for kids to interact with. What kid doesn’t love to yell no?” We asked Katie how she found the time to make the book. She said, “This one was made at night, usually between the hours of 7pm and 10pm over the course of a couple months. We are always trying to find the balance between work, personal projects, and a life. So many ideas, so little time.” The book is an engaging story packed full of beautiful illustrations. See more of their book, and order a copy for yourself.
We’ll leave you with a bit of final advice from EHD, two of our favorite designers who have found their own path to success. “Neither of us are the biggest risk takers but we work really hard trying to make our dreams a reality. Start small and set aside time to create the things you want. Save money. Meet people. Get your work out there as much as you can. Focus on creating the things that excite you. Always try to get better and try new things. Remember that there is more to life than work.”
Nathan and Katie’s inspirational story has intrigued us for a while and we’re happy to have learned more. Hopefully it inspires you to take a few days (or even an entire year) and embark on your next adventure.