A few weeks ago, we let photographer and writer Wesley Verhoeve run wild with a Karma Go on the West Coast. Wesley works as an independent creative, and while he does have a desk at a co-working space in Brooklyn, he spends a lot of his time jetsetting around the country. We sat down to chat with him about what it’s like to work in a non-traditional office setting, and how that style of working has helped shape his career and spark his creativity.
Q: How does your work process differ when you're out in the field as opposed to in the office?
A: When I’m in the field, it’s usually to shoot. I’m literally outside, moving around, finding subjects, either for One of Many or for a client, and then I often find a coffee shop to do work in, which becomes my office. It’s very similar.
I wrote a Fast Company piece a few years ago that actually encouraged everyone to get out of the office now and then and get a change of scenery. Even when I worked in an actual office, we would have regular coffee shop days where we would get out of our regular space and refresh.
Q: How do you stay focused?
A: I’m a man of routines, but at the same time I enjoy being in a different environment. It makes me feel less anxious and more present. It makes me feel calmer. I can meet new people while I’m working and that’s really nice. There are different stimulants and it’s a different environment, but I actually find it much easier to concentrate and get work done outside the office than I do in an office.
I think more and more people are embracing the “working remotely” phenomenon, even in old school industries. Unless there are security risks involved in your job, I think it’s nice for anyone to get out.
I think more and more people are embracing the “working remotely” phenomenon, even in old school industries.
Q: What's the most impressive thing you've been able to upload or produce outside a traditional office?
A: There was a day when I needed to get files to a client at the last minute, and time was running out on that deadline. I was just wandering around looking for coffee shop WiFi, not finding any, and suddenly I was like, oh shit, I have my Karma with me. Problem solved.
Q: What are your other must-have on-the-go tools?
A: Besides my Karma? I have a travel kit that I take everywhere. It’s got my LaCie Rugged hard drive, a handful of SD cards, a card reader for my camera, a cable that goes with the reader, bam. Goes in my bag alongside my laptop and its charging cable. I have to be very organized.
For software, I use Dropbox for backing up all my photos and showing clients in person, WeTransfer for sending and receiving files, a few photo editing apps like VSCO and Darkroom, plus the Headspace app for meditation on the go.
Q: How do you feel that working remotely or on-the-go has impacted the creative community at large?
A: It’s kind of shaped what people can do, period.
I think it makes it easier for people who previously wouldn’t have been able to pursue creative fields to pursue them—for example, young mothers, or people who are otherwise bound to be home, those who don’t have or don’t want a full-time job. It’s opened up a lot of opportunities.
I remember this one woman I met in Savannah, GA, who was a mother and also a bartender. Between night shifts and a child, it’s not so easy to pursue whatever creative interests you might have. But she started an Etsy shop and after some time, she ended up being able to quit her job and work from home.
To be successful as a creative, you don’t need to live in New York anymore. A lot of creative fields like advertising, design, and writing are traditionally centered in New York City. Now, you can start a small agency, get your cost of rent down, and with the internet, still have the same access as you would living in New York.
Q: How has your career been shaped by mobility?
A: I started off working for a record label with a very small staff, 3 or 4 depending on the year. We shared offices with a few different tech startups and other cool, creative companies. I really wanted to be in the proximity of tech and creative companies because it was such a different atmosphere from the traditional music industry.
The attitude in the music industry at the time was quite negative toward change. In the tech world, people are chasing huge goals and innovating and embracing change. We needed to get ourselves into that state of mind.
Over time, the music industry changed, my interests changed.
I joined this great workspace, Friends Work Here, and continued doing part music, part fashion, and part consulting. I started One of Many a year later or so as a small side project as a way to see more places, meet more people, make a positive contribution to the creative community. That accidentally ended up taking over my life and wiping out my other activities.