October 14, 2019

Pride, Work and Necessity of Side Projects: Designers Miho Aishima and Kat Garner Founded Creative Space “Rye Here Rye Now” as a More Friendly, Less Formal, Gathering for the Creative Community

What are you working on—on the side?

We run Rye Here Rye Now, a creative platform based in Peckham Rye, London. We hold monthly meetups bringing together creatives from all areas of the industry. We’ve also run events with Tate Modern, the Great Get Together and Peckham Festival.

We started holding our monthly meetups two years ago because we felt that a lot of the design talks and events we were going to were quite formal and could be intimidating to people just starting out. We wanted to create a space where people can feel relaxed. We make sure to provide opportunities throughout our events for people to engage with each other and spark conversations.

Miho: When we started Rye Here Rye Now, I was freelancing and missed the kind of conversations that I would have at the pub with colleagues and other designers when I was in a studio full-time. We have met so many great people and have become a part of the creative community in Peckham in the last few years which has been wonderful.

My other side projects include: preparing for a group exhibition with some artists to open early next year and collaborating with a friend on an annual retreat for our group of inspiring women-designer friends.

Kat: One of the reasons I was excited to start Rye Here Rye Now was that working in a studio alongside a consistent team means there’s was less of an opportunity to meet new creatives, one of the best things about RHRN has been meeting and becoming friends with so many great people through these nights that we put on.

How do you manage to work
on your side project(s)?

Kat: We meet up and plan for Rye Here Rye Now a couple of times before each event to chat through the plan for that month. Now that we’ve been running it for two years, we’re quite prepared in terms of what needs to be done and when things should be publicised or posted on social media and how to divide up that work, because we do both have full-time jobs to get this done around.

Miho: It can be very difficult, but I often dedicate time in the evenings after work and on the weekends. Sometimes, I even have to take calls about projects during my lunch hour, but I think it’s definitely worth it. I think you need to put in the hours to build something meaningful and worthwhile.

Why have a side project?

For us, Rye Here Rye Now was something that we felt was needed and we were excited to provide a platform, bring together a creative community and provide a chance for people to meet and collaborate.

Miho: I think side projects give you the opportunity to explore ideas that may not fit into your day-to-day work. You can also try something without committing to it as a full-time job; however, it does mean you have to be a bit more organised with your time.

Being a creative can be tough especially in a city that is so big, expensive and competitive like London. By creating Rye Here Rye Now, I feel that we are building a supportive place for all creatives to feel welcome and share their stories. That makes this side project worthwhile for me.

Kat: Generally speaking, I think it’s important to have side projects to exercise your brain and your creativity in different ways. Finding something that you can be passionate about, that is driven just by your interest in it, can make you feel more excited about the client-facing design work you do. However, I think too often people take on side projects because they feel like it’s a requirement, and feel obligated to constantly be posting work. There’s no benefit to burning yourself out for the sake of looking busy, especially if it’s not adding anything to your life or your practice. I’d say choose your side projects carefully—don’t feel like it needs to be something you have to show anyone or monetise if you don’t want to, and that way, it will be so much more rewarding.

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Diptych courtesy of Miho Aishima and Kat Garner—their joint portrait photographed by Matthew Pull.

This series, devoted to side projects, is delivered in association with Chicago creative agency 50,000feet—dedicated to helping brands and businesses soar.

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