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Ever wonder what a “typical” day looks like for professionals in various vocations? How do they spend their hours? What do they do at night? What do they read? How do they manage life at work and outside of it? In this series, Fieldnotes catches up with business and organizational leaders and asks them about their typical days, giving us a chance to virtually “shadow” them.
Ned Bustard is the owner of an illustration and graphic design firm called World’s End Images. He is on staff with CIVA, on the board of ASCHA, and the creative director for Square Halo Books, for whom he edited the book It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God. In his spare time he does printmaking. He and his wife have three daughters and live in Lancaster, PA.
Years ago my wife grabbed on to the phrase in the Psalms: “O Lord, establish the work of my hands.” And now that has become a prayer for us both. More often than not, it is a prayer of desperation—especially now when I reflect on what a “typical” day is for me.
8:00 Get Going
I am self-employed and work out of my house. So why get going before 7? (Of course, I usually pay for it by having to work late at night.)
Some days this means just taking the dog out for walkies and reading io9.com. Tuesdays I get together at the corner coffee shop for a discipleship group with two guys from my church Bible study. On Thursdays and Fridays I take each of my daughters out for “Bagels & Bible” at the same corner coffee shop. I used to do that three days a week, but my eldest just left this fall for college up at the fabulous The King’s College.
8:30 Check Facebook
I have no water cooler to stroll over to in order to catch up on the amusing flotsam of life, so I waste too much time reading posts of friends and strangers.
8:45 Check Email
This often sends me off on a rabbit trail, stamping out a fire that just popped up for one of my clients. This is good, since it is billable work, but it wasn’t what I intended to do this morning.
10:00 Decide What to Make
I like my work. I make things. Textbooks, picture books, websites, logos, magazines, brochures, T-shirts, posters, flyers, catalogs, and whatnot. So I launch into designing something related to that Big Project I am working on right now, and—
10:15 St. Clive’s Break
We homeschool. The name of our school is Saint Clive’s Academy (after C.S. Lewis). If I haven’t been interrupted by a phone call from a client needing something right now, this is about the time my wife or one of my daughters comes in and asks for something. So I take care of that, but now am distracted, so—
10:30 Check Facebook
This is a quick and pointless visit to the world of social media because I don’t have enough interesting friends. So I get back to work on the Big Project. I skip the random songs on my iTunes and instead listen to an interview or two from Ken Myers’ Mars Hill Audio.
10:35 Elder Stuff
I am an elder in my church and plan the weekly worship services. It is likely that by now I will have received a call or an email from the church admin, or from another elder, a pastor, or our chief musician. So I need to take care of whatever they need.
11:00 Conference Call
If it is Monday, I get on the phone with the staff of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA) for a weekly brainstorming session/project update. I have been a member of CIVA for years and just recently was asked to come on staff as the organization’s graphic designer. I feel honored to be asked and am thrilled to serve. If it isn’t Monday, it still is eleven, so that means it is time for Elevensies. Therefore, I pop downstairs to the kitchen for a cup of tea or a handful of cashews. Bilbo Baggins would be disappointed at such a meager refreshment, but really it is just to get me away from the computer screen for a moment.
11:15 Not Monday
I am back to work at this point on the Big Project. But I love to help people out, so sometimes I’ll stop and work on something that isn’t billable. Regardless, I am drawing something, bastardizing type, importing text, or picking colors.
I work at home and we homeschool, so now is when I spend some time with my girls—eating a delightful something that my wife has beautifully arranged on a plate. (Or I meet with someone from church over lunch at the local sandwich shop. They have good Philly cheesesteaks there, with bread shipped in from Philadelphia. That is important when making a proper cheese steak.)
12:45 Catch Up
The kids are off playing for a bit until school needs to start back up. I sit and talk to my wife a bit—we catch up on her day
It is really time to get some work done. But instead I check Instagram to see if my daughter up at King’s has done anything interesting in the Big Apple. She has, of course, but hasn’t posted it yet. So all that is left to me is to get back to work. I’m tempted to cut a bit more on the block of linoleum that I am working on for my next blockprint but decide to return to the Big Project.
Someone calls who wanted me to do something for them at some point someday. They have decided that today is the day it is due.
2:00 Crisis Averted
Whew. . . . Thankfully, that didn’t take as long as it could have. Now it is back to the Big Project.
I drift off to sleep and my head jerks back suddenly, waking me up. I hate that. I go downstairs for a glass of iced tea.
2:45 Square Halo
I don’t want to get back on the Big Project, so I chip away a bit at the next Square Halo Books title. I’m creative director for the company. I don’t earn a salary from it, but we make good books. I’m glad to be able to do that.
3:15 Back to Work
The client I was waiting on since last week just called and gave me the green light on that flyer, or ad, or whatnot. I get to work on that.
4:00 The Big Project
I wrapped up that other job, so now I return to the Big Project I’ve been working on today. I research a bit, write a sidebar for this project, and go to iStockphoto for an image to illustrate it. Or maybe I illustrate it.
4:30 Not Tea Time
Dinner is a while off. I check Facebook. Then I get a call from a friend in Florida who helps me with production work. She is a details-oriented, left-brained person. She goes over what she got done for me, asks me what I want to do with the whatsit on page 12, and we discuss possible projects that could be included in this workbook/textbook that she is helping me to develop for some happy homeschoolers to use someday.
I’m really in a groove now, making some great headway on the Big Project. Eric Liddell and I are both feeling God’s pleasure as we live out our callings in our vocation. (Okay, Eric is dead, but he is with me in spirit.) I listen to a sermon by Sinclair Ferguson while I’m working—to keep my mind off my rumbling stomach.
My youngest calls me on the phone (it is two flights up to my office and she doesn’t want to make that trip) to tell me it is time for dinner. We eat, we laugh, and we try to remember to go over some catechism questions or read a bit from the Bible.
7:00 No Dessert
Dinner is cleaned up, and if I don’t have a church meeting tonight, we will read together, go to some activity my kids are involved with (for example, my wife produced A Midsummer’s Night Dream this fall. That took up many evenings. And there are more things to do besides just that. Homeschooling is a very time-consuming venture), watch something on Netflix, or I go back to work.
Time to get the kids to bed. After the lights are out, I regret not having spent more time that day hugging them.
I pour a glass of wine for myself. Charity and Its Fruits (Edwards), Bonhoeffer (Metaxas), and The Nude (Clark) are by my bed right now. I will read one of those. Unless I have a nice murder mystery by J. Mark Bertrand to read—then I will read that, of course. Or maybe I am reading something for church, or something for Square Halo Books. Possibly I am too tired to read, and therefore I will look at pictures on Instagram.
(This all assumes I am not working. I may have a deadline to meet on the Big Project or a Square Halo title I need to design—if so, I am doing that, not reading.)
It is time to walk the dog. She does not want to get up. I talk to her, push her, bribe her, and beg her to get up. Eventually she does, as a favor to me. We go out for a walk in the back alley. I look to see if there is anything interesting on Flipboard. We go back inside, I give her a bone. Then I lock all the doors and windows.
11:00 Bed Time
I kiss my wife goodnight—or at least hold her hand—and we drift off to sleep.
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