It’s been a busy week this week and I am off to Standon Calling festival this afternoon, but I really wanted to write a quick post about my first two days with the wonderful Blast Theory this week. If you haven’t heard of them, please look them up and browse through their work – they have done, and are doing, lots of exciting things.
I had that ‘first day of school’ feeling again on Wednesday morning as I was cycling to Portslade, although at the same time I was relishing the short journey – living in the city centre means I hardly use my bike these days, which for a Dutch person is most discombobulating. It was a lovely ride: clear blue skies, a brisk breeze in my face, multi-coloured poppies along the verge. Children playing on the beach. The fresh smell of the sea, punctured briefly by chlorine from the King Alfred pool. Past Hove Lagoon – more exotic in name than in nature – and then into Portslade with its industrial units, shipping containers and warehouses.
Blast Theory live in a converted Victorian ice house. The building contains living space, offices and artists’ studios, all bright and airy. Downstairs, they border a builders’ merchant’s yard and upstairs they overlook Shoreham Harbour.
I was immediately struck not only by how welcoming their small team was, but also how well-organised they are. It is genuinely impressive: the recycling boxes, stationery cupboard and storage areas are all neatly labelled. Files are organised logically and methodically and all data is backed up every week. A project management system is used to track and discuss all key project tasks, schedule meetings and maintain key contacts. Every Tuesday, the artists have a creative day where they are not disturbed with day-to-day office issues. Working hours are 10am-6pm and between 1pm and 2pm, everyone leaves their desks and has lunch together, either around the big coffee table in the kitchen area or upstairs on the terrace overlooking the harbour. It’s a lesson in employee wellbeing, executed in the most unassuming and relaxed way.
Waiting for me on my desk, next to the big shiny iMac and neat little bound notebook, was an induction sheet with key information about everyone’s roles and how the studios work. I had a full induction covering all areas, including a tutorial on how to make coffee (the machine, incidentally, freshly grinds Red Roaster beans and churns out a variety of coffee shop-standard drinks. I am not a big coffee drinker but may well turn into one!). Later that day, they even put a news item about me on their website, something I am still childishly excited about.
On top of all of that, the work is genuinely exciting and interesting. I’ll be helping them with a crowdfunding campaign, which is something both they and I are new to. I’ve spent the past couple of days looking at all things crowdfunding and plotting our strategy, and am both excited and slightly scared to help them implement it. It’s great to be able to develop a specific new skill that will really help my career.
So, to bastardise a Dutch phrase, I have fallen nose-first into the butter with Blast Theory. After spending a fair bit of time at home with my laptop, it’s a real joy to be in an actual workspace again and with other people to chat to and get to know. I can’t wait to really get stuck into the work and see how things develop.
The coming week is looking busy with the festival this weekend followed by another Blast Theory day and then five days in France for the European project I am also working on. But I plan to bring my laptop as well as my watercolour pad so I can hopefully keep you posted!