Aaron Thaddeus is the Creative and Experience Director of Two Dots Studio– A video and animation studio based in Raleigh. Aaron produces content that celebrates human connections, innovation, social impact and social change.
Most recently Aaron has been working on a project with other local creatives called RCity RVoice – a user-powered movement striving to amplify the voices of our community to fight for equality, build empathy, and humanize causes through stories, art, photos, and poetry. Learn more about Aaron by reading our interview with him below.
What do you do and long have you been freelancing?
I have been freelancing / running a business since 2011.
What is your “exit” story? Why did you decide to freelance?
It was 2011 and I was on set as the 2nd assistant producer on a McDonald’s GCB Burger TV Commercial. It was the tail end of day 2, a long and grueling 12 hour day to perfect this one single shot. The iconic slow motion shot of the lettuce falling on the glowing, “juicy” burger patty. It was 10:30 PM and I was sitting down to rest my feet when the Head Producer came and said to go do something and look productive. I held my tongue and went to look for something to do. This attitude repeated again and again throughout the shoot. I finally snapped and left the set never to return to work with that company. After calming down and unpacking why that scenario led to me leaving, I realized that the hierarchical way video production sets were built left many people mistreated, unheard and unappreciated. It was that moment I realized I can do this differently and better by injecting kindness, love, acceptance, forgiveness, and equality into the creative process. That is when I left and started my first company in December 2011.
Share how freelancing has been great and/or how it has been hard.
I have sincerely enjoyed my time as a solopreneur. The ability to manage my personal time, be accountable to myself, collaborate with other creatives, learn and grow from projects I pursue, and most importantly the ability to design my brand’s Operating System (OS). OS refers to the values, process, structure, principles and practices necessary to drive the organization. Good culture attracts good people and I am proud to have had the opportunity to collaborate with amazing creatives and brands alike.
With all experiences come challenges and it can be rough. Time and money can be your best or worst friend. You can never have enough of either one. The biggest challenges I have seen along this journey are gaining access to opportunities and staying visible. Depending on where you are in the world, it boils down to who you know, the quality of your work and price. Keeping up with work, personal life and ever-changing environments can be overwhelming which can lead to burn-out. This is why I truly believe that the way forward is together. By building partnerships with co-creators, you can build and grow quickly without all the risk and responsibility of your lap.
What is some advice you would share with soon-to-be or wish-to-be freelancers?
You do not have to build it on your own. I truly and sincerely believe in collaboration and partnerships. The reason I have been able to produce 99% of my work is because I think bigger than ( I ) and produce work that allows other creators to co-create. A huge problem in starting out is the lack time and money. If you take on all aspects of your business, you will burn yourself out and that is not a smart way forward. Instead, understand all components and the importance of each segment of your business, and learn how to delegate and collaborate.
If you have a skill someone else needs and in return get something back, why the hell not share skills. It saves you time and money while allowing you to grow quicker and more efficiently. Just saying.
Lastly, what do you want to be known for in the freelancing community?
I want to be known as the cucumber in a world of “Cili Padi’s”. Cili Padi is also know an Bird’s Eye chilli or Thai Chillies in the states. Why this analogy? Firstly I am Malaysian and I think in food metaphors. What it also means is that bird’s eye chillies are small, pack a punch, can be overly deceiving and leave you with burning lips. I believe that this analogy speaks to how I see content in todays world, its loud, demands attention, it can be deceiving and can often leave you burnt out with over consumption. The cucumber however provides the opposite effect, it cools you down, its caring, it softens the burn and it leaves you feeling calm and relaxed.
That is how I see my place in this industry. There is no right or wrong but there is a huge need for more cucumbers in a world of fiery chillies.
If that did not make it clear, here is a project I started that turned into a much larger project: