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Modern Alchemy Turns 10

2016 April 5
by Matt

Amazing, but true: today marks 10 years since the official incorporation of Modern Alchemy LLC.

It’s difficult to believe. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was celebrating five years. This seems like it should be a much more impressive milestone, but I don’t really have anything in me like the series of reflections I produced five years ago. I think I had more time on my hands, then, plus perhaps I have been there and done that now, and repeating the same kind of hoopla feels a bit tired.

The one feature which I find particularly striking about this 10th anniversary is that Modern Alchemy has now been around as long as my last, brief full-time employer had been when I went to work there. That feels notable, certainly.

It’s also an interesting point of comparison for evaluating what I have to show for 10 years.

I definitely don’t have anything like that studio. I don’t have employees, and I work from home. Realistically, in the past year or two I have stopped thinking of myself as having “a business” at all, so much as having a practice, like independent members of the traditional professions (law, medicine). Clients aren’t really hiring Modern Alchemy, they’re hiring me.

But this seems to work. I expect that the same can be said of many small enterprises to a great degree, also, probably including my erstwhile employer.

Meanwhile, I don’t feel like my 10-year-old practice is really inferior to that 10-year-old business, for my purposes. I don’t feel a particular need to spend a whole lot more money on overhead, or to take on a side career as facilities manager, or to “get up and go to work” every morning. So I don’t really feel bad about not having a separate workplace. Likewise, I don’t really feel eager to be other people’s “boss,” so I have no particular envy there.

Neither omission seems to be doing me much harm. Modern Alchemy seems to be doing very respectably at 10 years, and on balance as good as or better than ever. I have a very big Fortune-500 client, as well as a growing number of interesting smaller clients, and I’m currently in the early stages of what looks likely to be a substantial, blank-canvas visual identity development for a medium-sized local firm. (More details to come.) I am also still working on the pro bono project that never ends, but people are appreciative of the effort and I’m glad to contribute.

The one thing I probably need to polish up is my own presentation. I expect things will remain quiet on this blog, but it could still stand a new coat of paint, and the current recently passed six years old… This seems to have become one of those design practices that’s successful enough that, as a result, its own design suffers a bit from neglect. I should freshen things up anyway, one of these days—but that’s probably not a bad achievement for 10 years all the same.

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