To be or not to be, that was the question…

to be, the only choice then and now.

Posted by; Ian Bateson, Creative Director, Baseline Type & Graphics

The year was 1985 and my 4-year contract with Douglas & McIntyre – to research and illustrate the new BC Ministry of Education, grade-4 social studies curriculum – had come to an end. Thrown into the maelstrom of competing in the freelance market again during an economic downturn proved challenging. Jean (my wife) and I were struggling to pay the mortgage at 18% interest rates, unsubsidized child care and provide for our day-to-day needs.

Noticing a want ad for a designer at a company called Baseline Type & Graphics Cooperative, that carried little detail other than “interested individuals should leave their letter of introduction and resume at the front desk”. I left the documents at their desk, a nondescript office on the second floor of the old Harry Hammer warehouse at 990 Homer Street. When hired and eventually offered membership, we worked hard through two decades, two recessions and a constant requirement to adapt to the ever-changing requirements of the design and communication industry, we built, and secured our place as a quality driven design studio, with a growing roster of clients across a broad range of businesses, not-for-profits, unions, governments and the corporate sector.

The new 2011/12 Baseline business model…

…fast forward to May, 2010 and again we saw the financial winds of change. Our lease was up at 736 Granville at the end of June that year, and like many in the business we had witnessed a slow down and felt the challenges presented by the tightening belts of our long-standing clients. We saw the impact of shifting budgets to a different set of deliverables such as video and online social media. We witnessed crowd sourcing and it’s impact on pricing for identity design. Print still had a place, but the perfect storm of the above and a continued slowing in the BC economy forced us into realizing that the long-term prospects for Baseline delivering well executed design and communication solutions would be through the creation of an effective virtual office versus our beloved downtown central address.

In June 2010, we signed the lease at 736 Granville for one more year, providing time to put into place the tools and protocols necessary to effectively work from our respective home offices.  David Lach built an online CMS administration tool for tracking client work, opening new business dockets, provide staff with electronic time sheets and Baseline management with an online invoicing capability. Our most important branded assets, such as the Baseline phone number, our respective email addresses and website URL had to stay in tact – believe me a real challenge when dealing with Telus, Bell and a third-party telecommunications provider who will remain anonymous.

During May and June 2011, Baseline updated its identity, customized a comprehensive CMS administration and management tool and developed a new website in preparation for our move to our virtual office. (Click to enlarge).

We needed a virtual and central Vancouver mailing address, new business cards, online letterhead and connectivity through our respective cells and where necessary Skype accounts for day-to-day communication.

On June 30th, Baseliners’ saw their respective and numerous labeled boxes, slowly disappear into the back of a uHaul rental truck, ready for our 4-point Greater Vancouver relocation.

Our team – David Lach, senior web developer and my partner for the last 26 years, Andrew Ware our senior web and print production artist for 15 years, David Steiner, senior web developer for the past 6 years and Marian Lau, our incredible office manager for 12 years – are now into their first week of working from home. A  daunting, but not unique prospect in this fast paced and changing business environment. The discipline of getting up at the same time (well maybe not exactly the same time) along with a myriad of other not yet experienced issues, when working at distance from the people you have worked so closely with, I’m sure will present themselves in due course, but Baseline is now committed and well prepared for another decade of challenge and we look forward to offering you designed solutions that will fit your needs today and tomorrow.

Our Team can be contacted at the following numbers and email addresses:

Ian Bateson, Creative Director
tel. 604. 683 5038
cell. 604. 809 8409

David Lach, Senior Web Developer
Direct: 604. 809 5038

Andrew Ware, Senior Production Artist
tel. 604. 683 5038
cell. 604. 992 5038

David Steiner, Web Developer
tel. 604. 683 5038
cell. 604. 818 7049

Marian Lau, Production Manager
tel. 604. 683 5038

Our new mailing address is:
Baseline Type & Graphics Cooperative, 170-422 Richards Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 2Z4.


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Filed under 25 Years of Baseline

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