It was the ancient Greeks, or so we’re told, who decided that time meant money. Ever since, most of us have tried to chase both. We need time to make money and we’d like to think that money buys us time.
In reality, even the ancient Greeks probably knew that this isn’t quite how it goes. Money can buy you a lot of things: weekend city breaks to Seville, an enormous breakfast at your favourite greasy spoon, and a nice new fleece. These are all things that money can give you access to.
Time, however, needs to be found. Most of you reading this will know how time-consuming some aspects of the creative industries can be. You want to see friends, catch-up on the latest must-see box-set, finally check out that exhibition everyone and their mum has already plastered all over their Instagram stories, get stuck into that stack of Joan Didion books you ordered after watching the documentary months ago – but you’ve got to catch up on invoices.
Enter ANNA – which stands for Absolutely No Nonsense Admin – the app that wants to take the headaches out of financial admin for freelancers and SMEs. Last time we featured the service here on It’s Nice That, ANNA played the role of agony aunt, answering all manner of creatively-minded questions about that most difficult of things to talk about: money.
Today, we’ve decided to tackle the thorny issue of time. It’s Nice That and ANNA decided to give a quartet of time-strapped creatives a temporal gap in their hectic schedules to dive head-first into a project that was purely for pleasure. Below you’ll see what Risotto Studio, John Molesworth, Ra Bear, and Arianna Lago produced – and why they produced it – when they knew that their financing was done and dusted.
John Molesworth likes to think of himself as a man with “fingers in many pies” which is probably why he came to mind when we decided to set a bunch of seriously talented creatives the brief of using some much-needed free time to plough into something free of the constraints that occasionally, well, constrain them.
“In my free time I’m always trying to see or do something that makes the most of the time I have off, so I usually try to see pals or see shows,” John says. "My illustration for this project is about having more time to just do nothing and be happy in the moment and in my own company.”
Like many of us, John admits to feeling a sense of pressure over how to spend the free time that does manage to land his way. “Sometimes I find it hard to read a book or enjoy quiet moments because I always feel I should be doing something exciting but I think occasionally it’s important to allow myself to be happy doing nothing.”
And, again, like many of us, the acceptance that time to do nothing is more often than not time well spent leads John to feel a sense of relaxation wash over him. Relaxation begets happiness, and happiness begets a clear mind.
Billing themselves as “Scotland’s leading risograph print specialist,” Risotto Studio is headed-up by Gabriella Marcella. Since 2012, Gabriella and her team have expanded a massive amount of energy into building, and sustaining an environmentally-conscious approach to design.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about time recently, and how most of my day is inherently spent responding to tasks, people or situations,” Gabriella tells It’s Nice That. “If so much is about automation, how can we use the time saved to slow down, curate, and enjoy?” With the time that ANNA helped Gabriella carve out, she produced a piece of work which honed in on the merits of slowing down.
She’s recently realised that one of the easiest ways of discovering that time can be bought back is to really delineate your work and home life. Sounds obvious, but so many of us are guilty of assuming that the only way to be here in the 21st century is to always be on, a reminder that we don’t just exist in our inboxes is always appreciated. “I try to leave my laptop at the studio, so when I’m home, I’m off,” she says.
35mm specialist Arianna Lago has spent the past few years on a search for beauty in the everyday. The photographer divides herself between commercial projects — shooting for the likes of Gucci and Marta Martino — and snapping editorial stories for everyone from the Evening Standard to Vogue Italia. Which, when you add in all the admin that comes with work like this, presumably doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for, well, anything else.
“As a creative, I think it’s important to use free time to find balance in all different fields of life, and to push ourselves to stimulate our imagination with mediums that are different from the ones we practice,” Arianna tells us. She goes on to say that with the sort of time and space that ANNA offers, she’d look to her mum for inspiration. “She was a very aggressive reader so what I am trying to do with my free time right now is trying to read as much as possible the many books she left behind.”
For this project, Arianna trained her lens on books, or more specifically a single book seductively stuffed into the pocket of an insanely comfortable looking suit.
Having worked with the likes of Boiler Room, Red Bull Music Academy, and Nightcolours Recordings, musically-minded Manchester-based designer Adam Griffiths has become a firm favourite round these parts, and pretty much everything he produced under the Ra Bear moniker gets that all-important INT seal of approval.
With the space and time that It’s Nice That and ANNA gave him, Adam has created a typically lucious, considered and contemporary take on graphic design.
“The work is based on the idea of being a flâneur, an observer of urban life, a modern moocher,” Adam says. “It’s the exploration of the city, the aimless wandering and curiosity, the vernacular visual language, and the multitude of layers that becomes the city’s make up.
It’s something that I find myself organically doing if the time is there and I need to shift away from the studio or emails, and into another headspace, be it temporarily.” He goes on to note that he wanted the work to be “almost like a documentation or sketchbook of this activity,” describing it as being a set of “erratic, unpredictable, mobile and quick fragments of visuals, messages and textures.”
Currently on the “tail end” of a brief sabbatical from commercial work, Adam’s learned in recent months that the ability to “harvest time well in order to redirect the focus,” back into personal work is both vital and necessary. He’s also got massively back into Curb Your Enthusiasm.
ANNA is an app, a card and a business account that helps creative small businesses and startups with their financial admin. ANNA is made up of design, marketing and tech experts from across the world. We see a future where ideas, creativity and innovation are encouraged and running a business is fun. We created ANNA to provide businesses with time-saving tools, enabling them to spend more time doing what they love.