Paul Jarvis is a web designer and bestselling author that lives in Victoria, BC. He’s spent the last two decades doing design work for a wide array of clients - big and small. His latest book, Everything I Know, is a guide to freelancing as a creative professional. Read on to view my interview with Paul about him and his work.
Describe your path towards being a writer.
I became a writer almost by accident. I hadn’t planned on writing books. It started with me posting photos of food on Instagram. Then people started paying attention and asking for recipes. Then enough people started asking me to put them all into a cookbook. It grew from there to one book, then another… I think I’m on my fifth now with two more in the wings.
What’s the most challenging thing as a self-employed creative?
It varies. Sometimes it’s making money. Sometimes it’s figuring out how I want to make money. Sometimes it’s working too much and needing to take a break but not knowing exactly how.
Did you think you’d be an author or even a web designer as a child?
Haha, no. I was going to be a doctor. The hand and neck tattoos probably keep me from actually doing that, even if I wanted to.
What do you hope to fulfill with your work?
Mostly I want people to question things they think are true. I can be a bit of a shit disturber, but it’s all for a reason. Too many of us, myself included, blindly follow ideas, instructions, advice.
What’s the purpose behind your book, Everything I Know?
I wanted to write down everything that I knew!
What has been the most memorable experience in your career?
To be honest, nothing comes to mind. Each Sunday though I enjoy sitting down and reading email replies to my newsletter. There are some really smart and interesting people who subscribe and have cool things to say.
What’s something that you find most creatives lacking in?
Doing the work. Too many sit around and wait for inspiration. Or procrastinate. Or doubt themselves. The cure for most things is sitting your ass down and creating.
What are some things you’d tell an aspiring creative?
Do the work.
What’s something that excites you as an author and web designer?
Anything I haven’t done yet. That’s why I jump around to new ideas all the time. I’m always looking for something new that I don’t know to throw myself into.
What have you learnt about yourself throughout your career?
That my work doesn't define me. I may be responsible for what I put out into the world, but it’s not me. I couldn’t give a rats ass about following my passions or anything like that. I’m passionate about other things in my life, like my wife, friends, nature… work is work. So maybe that’s what it taught me.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Not a fucking clue. And I’m happy to have zero plans and zero goals.
What point in your life have you taken a big risk?
I take risks all the time. I didn’t go to school for web design and did it. I didn’t know the first thing about being an author when I wrote my first book. Risks make things interesting.
You’ve done work for high-profile clients, how has that benefited your career?
People are impressed by fame. So if I work with a leader in an industry, others in that industry automatically think I’m great at what I do. Thankfully it’s true, haha.
Does Vancouver impact your work in any way?
I don’t know, I haven’t lived there for about 5 years. When I did live there I hated it, but I fixed that pretty easily by moving.
Are your family and rats (haha) supportive of your work?
Definitely. My wife challenges everything I do in the best way. And my rats sit with me while I write each day and criticise my horrible sentence composition.
Are you satisfied with where you are in your career?
Yes and no. Obviously I like that I’m in a place where I don’t have to worry about putting food on the table or paying rent, but I put it on the line all the time to try new things.
Any upcoming things you’d like to share with us?
My next book, The Good Creative, comes out soon. I’ll let my mailing list know when it’s released.
Awesome, what is ‘The Good Creative’ centered around?
The 18 common habits I’ve noticed in artists.