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Lessons from a work-from-anywhere life

When they’re not travelling the globe producing film and photography projects, this creative couple lives and works off-grid in the Canadian wilderness. Technology enables Angela Hartwick and husband Daryl Visscher to seamlessly create and collaborate from their remote corner of the world.

Working from home in bed
Carving out a sense of home takes intention when living a digital nomad lifestyle. For the founders of Hartwick Creative, it comes down to bringing a piece of the familiar with them wherever they roam. Writer-director Angela Hartwick and her husband photographer Daryl Visscher travel with their laptop, digital camera equipment and a lot of textiles, which help make any work space feel more inspiring. “Regardless of where we are, we always bring a kaftan or a beautiful piece of fabric that can be a sun shade or a seat cover”, says Angela. “We kind of create the space we need, where we need it.”
Angela Hartwick working from Barcelona hotel

Their photography and video work includes campaigns and branded partnerships, image libraries, documentaries and education initiatives for some of the world's leading brands, such as Volkswagen, Lufthansa, MTV, Marriott Hotels and General Electric. After living in Europe and Asia for many years, Angela and Daryl now mainly reside in a remote cabin in the Canadian wilderness when they’re not on the road shooting.

They built their home and headquarters on a ranch in British Columbia, where the nearest supermarket is a three-hour drive away and power is supplied by a series of six solar panels and eight batteries. Angela and Daryl connect with their clients thanks to high-speed broadband internet delivered via mountaintop towers and repeaters that run on wind and solar energy.

And at the core of their creative work, Dropbox keeps their projects streamlined, organised and accessible from anywhere. “Digital technology is a huge piece of our work and our lives”, says Angela. “The ability to move files – images, videos or whatever files we’re working with – is integral to what we do. I can refine and arrange all my assets, ideas and references before sharing the project with a client, and update them as we go. Dropbox is an indispensable tool.”

A video conference with clients

Assignments or RFPs often arise while Angela and Daryl are abroad producing other projects. “We often joke that all we need to do to book a job in the East is to fly West, or vice versa”, says Angela. “When that happens, we’ll either rent an Airbnb or check into a hotel and work for those days that we need to focus on a project. We do all of that online, from booking the place, to researching, to presenting the treatment to our client. We’ve really integrated mobility into the way we work.”

Here, Angela’s lessons for making a work-from-anywhere life work better:

Make wherever you are feel like home.

“Travel light, with things that have multiple uses. Textiles are lightweight and can be used in myriad ways – as a scarf on a cool day, a beach blanket or a table cover.  A little fabric goes a long way.”

Centralise your work in order to decentralise your location.

“Create a central point online where all your work lives. For us, it’s our website – our bio explains the way we work, we constantly update with new projects, create back-end pages for client presentations and link our social accounts to the contact page. That way, wherever we are, the presentation of our work is consistent.”

Sustainability can mean sustained growth.

“For us, sustainability – both environmental and financial – is at the root of all our choices. I think this has helped to create stability within a really flexible lifestyle. Simplicity affords you freedom that can’t be underestimated.”

Take clients on your voyage.

“Almost every project we do results from something we’ve written or have been involved in from the concept, so by the time it comes to actually executing, we’ve been around the world and back. In general, our clients are aligned with our world view and appreciate the context we bring to our projects.”

Put time on your side.

“For longer projects, we will often set ourselves up in a time zone that keeps us ahead of the game. For example, our current client is based in New York, so we are doing post-production in Barcelona to give us a six-hour lead. I get the day to work on the project, and my client can still receive updates, questions and versions during business hours. This makes the turnaround for feedback much more efficient.”

Filming an interview on location

Find your balance.

“I realise we have a pretty rare work-life balance. Daryl and I have chosen to live according to our own intuition. We built our own house in the wilderness and travel when and where we feel inspired to go. We don’t have anything to conform to, we just create as a reflection of what we need in the moment.”

Adventure and technology are related.

“Our work and lifestyle have merged together and led us to nearly every continent. New and emerging technology has provided the tools for innovation and imagination. As technology extends its reach, the world is witnessing exponential growth of international trade, ideas and culture. We are more connected than ever before. Get out there and find your path!”


Video and story by Citizen Research

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