My old friend Paul is, amazingly enough, Professor Elemental. and I think of him whenever I go to Moorgate Overground as we used to get the train together to work, him writing lyrics on an A4 pad, me reading, I presume. Now he’s got a brand, records, comics, a tea brand, a novel and more. I persuaded him to join this series in February 2013, catching up in February 2014 and February 2015, March 2016, March 2017, and March 2018 (it’s completely my fault that this one has scooted through the year!) – and his interviews have been some of the most entertaining I’ve done so do have a click through the past ones if you have the time! When I asked the Prof where he wanted to be by now back in March last year, he replied, “Is it possible to maintain a small business without expanding and ruining what made it good or shrinking so it becomes untenable? Can a creative business remain contented without losing its spark? Why didn’t I spend the previous 5 years taking the train to shows instead of the car? Find out the answers to these questions and probably less in exactly 365 days’ time … “ So, let’s find out those answers, 365 plus a few days later!
Hello Paul, and I’m adding your bonus paragraphs in here first because you are always entertaining!
Hmmmmm. Well. I mean, I’m not sure I learned that much in the last year. Although my aim was largely to see if I could do less work for the same results, which hasn’t worked out at all. Just by virtue of saying an enthusiastic YES to talented people who have offered to work with me, I’m doing more than ever. But it’s pretty fun stuff, so I am not complaining.
So apart from being able to answer the question of whether or not it’s possible to stay contented (Spoiler alert: it is), it’s quite possible that my answers will be less help than ever this year.
The big question then: Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Not at all. I’d aimed to find a sweet spot between ‘successul creative business’ and ‘semi retired man’ and this has not panned out in the slightest. On the other hand, I am riding a wave of more exciting creative projects than I ever thought possible, so semi retirement will have to wait.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
Still performing in more shows than you could shake a stick at, while juggling a plethora of Professor projects across every conceivable media. It’s all much the same sort of thing, except I’ve moved up a gear and I’m also trying to find ways for my work to do more good (via charity projects and the like)
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
Very little. If anything I think I might have unlearned some stuff. There’s every chance that I am regressing and by the time we do this in a decade I will just be uttering vowel sounds and grunting.
Any more hints and tips for people?
Writing books takes a lot longer than you think, boylesque can show you things you never wanted to see, overconfidence leads to a terrible live show, libraries are awesome (and so are the people who work in them), hackers and coders run the world, never drink with a German elf, Dutch fairies can be surprisingly strict, Portuguese Steampunks are as lovely as everywhere else, Patreon is a creative person’s best friend, Swansea has some really good tea shops, Hip Hop is still the best genre of any music and never underestimate the value of 8 hours’ sleep on your body and mind.
Love these, as always! And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
This year has been about starting work on so many things- so next year, I’d love to see some of those things come to fruition. From an animated cartoon, to several books, there are so many projects I cant wait to finish. And music too, I really should make some more of that.
I do always love the Prof’s hints and tips and I hope you’ve all taken careful note! What a wonderful career to follow, and of course doing good as he goes, too. I’m privileged to know this chap and be able to share his chap hop with a bit more of the world.
Here’s Paul’s Professor Elemental Patreon page, and do pop and have a look at his website, www.professorelemental.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter, of course. His School of Whimsy album is out now, and do search for him on YouTube, too, to get the flavour of his wonderful videos.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.