Mr and Mrs Ash Thorp
Ash Thorp’s IAMAG master class “Follow your Dreams” was captivating. He is talented, uses all sort of tools with mastery, has a tremendous entourage of talented friends ready to jump in to help and have fun with him, and his personal and professional track record lines-up an impressive list of projects names. But what really made him so captivating was something else : it came out of himself, his simple self.
The theme he’d picked for the master class was very personal ; where others talked about tools, processes and professional experiences, Ash tapped into the more personal aspect of what it meant to be a creative person and that made me want to know more about him. So when he thanked his wife many times over at the end of the session it felt very interesting to ask her about him.
I'd like to meet your wife to ask her about you
Minutes later, Ash Thorp was about to begin his portfolio reviews, and I was first to line-up. Ash dropped his bag, found a comfortable spot for his wife to wait another hour while he would do the reviews and came back, all smiles to me.
“So, what do you want to show me today?”, he asked.
“Nothing”, I said. “But I’d really like to talk to your wife.”
You can tell when someone actually feels surprise. A French dude asking for a moment with your wife? I realised that what I had just said could be taken the wrong way, so I rapidly went on explaining myself.
“I’d like to ask her about you. She’s probably the one who knows the most about you as a creative person, and I’m very curious about her point of view.”
“You know what? I think that’s a great idea. Nobody ever asks her anything and you’re right, she knows everything. I’m sure she’ll have loads to tell you!”
Working, and living, together
He turned to her, explained what I had asked for, and Mrs Thorp laughed serving him with a “That could be fun” type of look. The interview went very fast. I had asked for this conversation to learn more about Ash, and that didn’t really happen mostly because I didn’t prepare well enough. Mrs Thorp has a very fast mind, that didn’t leave me with much room to improvise, but she rapidly drew my attention something much more interesting than a few anecdotes about Ash.
“Ash is passionate about what he does”, she said. “He’s excited and very emotional about it, but I’m much more levelled.”
Turns out Ash and his wife work together. Mrs Thorp was in the CG business when they meat, got married and decided to work together as Ash’s career took off. She therefore supports him on a daily basis, taking care of his organisation and most of the business side of things while Ash focusses on his productivity and creativity. Not an easy task when you are both parents, husband and wife, plus business partners. A few rules are therefore important to maintain proper balance between each roles, while keeping a healthy and happy relationship.
One of these rules is about Ash’s door ; when he closes it, it means no interruption and that door can stay closed for some time. Another one is about the 6 to 8 pm timeframe ; no work there. It’s family time only, and everyone is back to being a parent, and loving couple. But when your work life overlaps so much with your private, family and love life, you have to discuss lots of things together and make decisions that will have an impact on both.
“It is important to be clear about who’s is talking from time to time. The wife, or the business partner.”
I wouldn’t ask about anything private, but on the work side she organises a lot, watches over their deals, does a lot of follow-up and participates in his thoughts and decisions regarding what to do next. And it’s probably not an easy task, being the reasonable and objective one since creative people can sometimes follow their envies more than reason. That balance though, plays a huge role in Ash’s creative life, and it is all based on trust and communication.
As many of us work from home nowadays, the same overlap exists and Mrs Thorp advice seems like a very good one. Even if our loved ones are not necessarily as involved as she is on the business side of things, good communication and a few sound rules are fundamental to build a good creative career on top of a happy couple and family life. Not always easy, and Ash would probably add “a lot of hard work” to that, but I wasn’t able to ask him in person since the line for his portfolio reviews had grown to a dozen people.
Other than that? Well, seems like Ash Thorp can be a serious night owl. But are we not all?
Quick questions to Ash
How do you deal with stress when you work?
I like to let it motivate and push me. A moderate level of stress helps engage my mind into action and speed that is hard to touch without it. I do try and avoid harmful stress which comes in the form of insults or outside negative influences. It's important to know and understand the difference between the two.
What is your current favorite tool at work?
I am currently getting into Zbrush and really enjoying it. I haven’t been able to use it for client work yet, but all in due time.
What do you do when you feel stuck?
I am thankful enough to say I rarely get “stuck” these days. I am far too curious and try to retain an open mind at all times which helps me from hitting mental road blocks.
What is the most difficult thing about what you do?
I think the most challenging part of my life is finding balance. I often work off the energy of my emotions and passions, and those have no time frame. They are abstract where as the world around me is often on a fixed timeline or schedule; this makes alignment a challenge at times.