Ellen Stoehr Design
freelance creative director \\ designer


Thoughts become things


This is an opinion blog

about typography, design, and the challenges or innovations across different projects as entrepreneur but it also hosts personal challenges, wins and opinions.

May you learn from my findings and lessons. Proceed with caution.


The nine-to-five gig was never meant for me


Quitting your job without having another one lined up is not for everyone. Most heart rates increase at the very mention of such a topic. I agree, living project-to-project (or as a freelancer) is not for everyone but I went ahead and did it, and now that I’ve been out of a "nine-to-five gig" for a few months, I must say, this is the life for me. Here's why:

To summarize it in a few words, my drive has stronger momentum now — I feel consistent motivation. Same goes for my accountability. Because it's up to me to inflate my own livelihood, my internal hustle shows up on time, everyday. The third reason freelancing works for me is because it keeps my positivity levels sufficient, which has a longer explanation. You see, I'm a highly positive person normally, so when I fall into a negative state and realize it, I start to ask, "What could be causing this?" Upon further reflection, here are the issues I attribute to depleting my positivity surplus:

The first one is authority — it does not work for me and I'm pretty sure it does not work AT ALL. I think the work force functions better when they are viewed as PEERS and EXPERTS. With hierarchy removed, among your peers you feel more comfortable — liberated to ask "dumb" questions, to push back on bad ideas or half-baked concepts, and most importantly, be yourself. Then, when you need guidance or advise, consult the expert in the group (AKA the person who has special skill or knowledge in that particular field) on what you need to make the work great. Please no more of this fabricated title clutter...CEO, CFO, COO, blah blah blah. Let’s work together, side-by-side, not above or below each other. 

"It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority."

— Benjamin Franklin


The second one is my definition of happiness at work. I am a daily checklist kind-of-gal and aspire to get all three items completed on that list every day. I recently discovered how happiness means having control of how I spend my time. It’s not about money in bank, it’s about the luxury of working from home, leaving the house for a 90 minute workout at 10:30am if I want to, getting my errands done during non-traffic hours, spending time right after lunch listening to a 50 minute podcast, or dick off and meet someone for coffee or wine late in the afternoon. This is happiness, people.

The third point is my very blanket perception of corporations and institutions: These larger establishments can’t help but suck the value out of their employees over time. I realize this is a generalization but bear with me. You come in on Day 1 as your best self, hoping to do good things for the company and hoping others will align with that value. But, over the course of a year, the inevitable decline happens — the corporation begins to see you as just another moving piece in the machine and starts chiseling away at your self-worth. They simply loose sight of you as an individual because it's easy to do and over time, the workplace becomes a dreaded chore with a dimly lit view. This was not the case with my previous job, but in talking with many other freelancers, I think it's a common outlook, often poorly articulated, among the millennial workforce, thus worthy of recognition and a larger conversation.

Perhaps I'll feel differently in the future, but I doubt it.