My Startup

Fernando Gros Studio Desk

I’d like to introduce you to my startup. I’ve made a little investment and I spent last week getting it off the ground – literally. My startup is a piece of furniture.

Confused? Let me explain.

A Little Background

Back in 2006 I moved to Hong Kong. I’d started tinkering (again) with music technology six years earlier and had recently gone back into music full-time. So I was full of dreams, hoping Hong Kong would be the place where I could start a music-tech related business. I pressed the flesh, exchanged business cards, gave my elevator speech and got nowhere. I did start a business, but it was something fairly conventional, doing client and contract work in music, photography and writing.

Then in 2011 I moved to Singapore. The dreams were still there, since I had assumed this city was actively looking for entrepreneurs. I had a little money to spend, enough to seed something and hire people (my plan was three people in the first year; traffic, technical design and studio operations). But, unfortunately I arrived at a time when the political climate was changing and I was unable to setup properly or get the kind of visa I needed to operate as a sole entrepreneur. I could always work for someone as an employee but, seriously, why would I want to do that?

2012 – The Year The World Ended

So, I decided to take some time, a year in fact, to cool off and rethink things. I closed my door to new work and started writing my own music and doing personal photographic projects. It was a fusion of creative and personal needs.

Apart from evenings and weekends with my family, I spent most of 2012 alone, much of it in my studio, surrounded by a lifetime’s collection of music, ideas and instruments. I went through it all and as I did an inventory of stuff I was also, unbeknownst to me at the time, going though an inventory of my creative motivations. Why had I gone back into music, what was I trying to achieve as a creative soul and why did I feel the need to start a “business?”

Learning How To Invest In Art

Then, part way through the year I made a decision. Instead of keeping money in the bank for some kind of tech startup that, frankly, was never going to happen, why not invest in gear that would move me forward creatively and artistically.

Why not invest in my art?

I’d come a long way as a photographer, but I was still shooting with a D90. And, I had hesitated for a long time from buying a decent colour printer, which was the next logical step in developing my approach. Plus, I had great guitars, amps, effects and microphones, but I had held back from investing in the kind of studio gear I really needed to realise my approach to making music.

It was now time to invest.

What Gear Can And Cannot Do

Not that buying gear is everything. Far from it. Having a better camera won’t turn you into a good photographer anymore than buying a set of pots and pans will turn you into a chef.

But, there does come a time when gear might be the thing that is holding you back. And, worse, the gear you use may become an excuse, a place where you hide your lack of faith in your ability, or your lack of commitment to your craft.

If your work is not quite up to scratch, you can always blame your out of date camera, second rate audio interface or whatever. But, if your gear is solid and your work still sucks then, simply, there is nowhere to hide.

Why Build A Desk?

So, last year I picked out some gear. I didn’t want to buy mountains of stuff, just a few key (high quality) pieces for music and photography. Making room for a new camera (D800e) and printer (Canon Pro1) wasn’t hard. But, the music studio gear (Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor, Rupert Neve Designs 5059 Summing Mixer, BAE 500 Series rack, Kush Clarifonic EQ, UAD Apollo and SE Munro Egg 150 Monitors) would take a little more work.

As I explained last week, I couldn’t find a ready-made or custom-built solution. So, I decided to build my own piece of furniture. Which was symbolic in a way.

Because this desk is my startup. It symbolises the journey I went through in 2012, the way my focus has shifted. This desk is a vessel for future musical projects, but it’s also a casket for those now dead dreams of tech entrepreneurship.

I’m proud of this desk. I’ve worked hard to build it. I won’t say it’s beautiful, but it is the best I could build, with my own hands and the tools at my disposal.

It is, in the purest sense, one of the most artistic decisions I’ve ever made.

This is my startup.

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  • The satisfaction of something made from scratch with our own hands and later seeing the final result, a personal challenge and joy itself. Because only you know how you feel about building this project, not just a desk, means more than that. Hope it will help you achieve future projects and continue developing your creativity. Sure it will

    • Fernando Gros - 14th February 2013

      Javier – thank you. The desk already feels like it has a “story” & I look forward to every mark and dent reminding me of the music created with it.

  • Elika Mahony - 5th February 2013

    The piece of furniture you built looks beautiful – Congratulations! It looks like you used a pine color for the surface which looks great with all the other equipment on the desk. I’m sure you are feeling the joy of achievement. 🙂

    • Fernando Gros - 14th February 2013

      Elika – thank you. I’m really glad with how it turned out & I hope it will age well.

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In his Tokyo studio Fernando combines his life-long passions for art and technology. On the road, he is always looking to take the next wrong turn, just to see what kind of images and stories might unfold. A photographer & writer, with a background in music, Fernando has lived in Chile, Australia, the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. Read More.


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