Since beginning the Meet the Nomads series of interviews we have been so impressed by the caliber of creative professionals who we’ve had the pleasure to meet. Tat Tso can be counted among the top. After seeing his design site I knew I had to introduce our readers to him. I urge you to take a look at Tattso.com and experience a very cool site as well as some great photography!
Tat Tso, I understand you are a web designer and photographer. Could you describe your work a little more?
I am currently a freelance web designer. My clients are located in Montreal, Toronto, New York and Hong Kong. Whenever my schedule allows, I work on my personal photo projects. My latest project is a collaboration with Canadian artist Josée Pedneault. It is based on the idea of exchanging our experiences in foreign and home towns by conversing with photos sent via email.
What training/experience did you receive in order to be able to have this business/profession?
I obtained a BFA degree in Design Art at Concordia Unversity at Montreal. During that period, I had the opportunity to exhibit in various design shows such as SIDIM, and work for several design studios in Montreal. As for photography, I have taken several courses in university but I am more of a self-learner.
How long have you been doing this?
About eight years.
What brought you to the decision to become a freelancer?
Basically the ability to choose the projects which I am interested in. Whereas in a studio, you have to work on whatever piled up on your desk. Creative freedom is always my primary concern, and by freelancing, I can choose the work that allows me be to creative.
Describe how you came to have an international clientele.
Although I have met few of my clients through the internet, I met most of them through friends and other clients. I would say having a strong network is crucial in building up your client base, whether local or international.
What interested you in becoming mobile?
I love the magic of coding in trains, planes, hotels, friends’ homes, etc, and uploading my work, and there you go ? the whole world can see my creation.
Where do you like to travel?
Right now, Belize, Cambodia, Easter Island and The Galapagos Islands.
How much of the year do you travel?
About 3 to 4 months.
Do you travel alone/with a partner/with children?
Usually alone. Sometimes I do travel with friends. Traveling alone is a nice experience, especially with a book and good music.
Is there any special equipment or infrastructure you must travel with in order to run your business? (ie laptop, telephony, fax)
Laptop, cellphone, cameras, iPod.
What brand/models do you choose and why?
Laptop ?Apple MacBook Pro 15″
Pretty obvious, it’s the best laptop on the market right now. Light enough to travel with, powerful enough to do the jobs. It’s also pretty to look at.
Cellphone ? Motorola V3
I’m not very picky about cellphone since most of my communication is done on the Internet. I like this phone because it’s thin. That’s all.
Cameras ? Nikon D200 and Minolta Hi-Matic F. The Nikon D200 has a very good ergonomic design that fits my hands perfectly, not to mention the wide range of lenses I can choose from. Though being slightly heavy, it is a very well built camera which makes it suitable for traveling. I use the Minolta Hi-Matic F for snapshots with b&w film because it is tiny, quick and handsome looking.
Are there any services you use while you travel in order to run your business? (ie Skype, supportsoft, online appointment services)
Mostly e-mails (Gmail, Thunderbird, etc). Sometimes MSN, Skype and iChat (for video conference). Lately I started using TimeFox to track my working hours.
What kind of reaction have you had from your clients/customers about your traveling lifestyle?
Reliability is always my clients’ primary concern as well as mine. It takes time to build up that kind of trust.
What would you say are the pros/cons of the nu nomadic business and lifestyle?
The pros are definitely freedom and flexible schedules. It can be suffocating to work in the same office and same schedules. It became difficult for me to keep a fresh and exciting mind after doing that for a while. It does not make too much sense to work at the same location anymore, especially for designers. Traveling to different places and seeing different cultures and people also helps me be excited and creative too.
I think the con is that it requires a lot of self-discipline – it can be easy to lose focus on your work and take photos of the foreign landscapes instead.
Do you have any advice for those people wanting to set up their own mobile business?
Get a nice laptop, be self-disciplined and reliable.