Freshly Laundered 029 / Phil Coffman


Phil Coffman is a designer living and working out of the well-known design capital of the south, Austin, TX. He founded and built Method & Craft, an industry “behind the scenes” blog beloved by many and in the last year, transitioned into a new role at PCPartPicker. Read on to learn more about how his transition has helped change the dynamics in his family life.

CB: About eight months ago you transitioned from a role as VP of Design at SpaceCraft to Design Lead at PCPartPicker. Part of this transition included the ability to work from home. How has this played out? Have you found anything you love, or hate, about work from home life?

PC: There’s typically an initial Honeymoon period with any new job because everything is new and exciting. I’ve been working at PCPartPicker since October and honestly I still feel like I’m on the Honeymoon. This change has been the best professional decision I’ve made to date and it has to do with the switch to working from home as well as the team and work we're doing. I was extremely cautious entering into this new work arrangement as I’ve never worked from home before and with three kids to care for I anticipated it to be an arduous exercise in boundaries and self-management. So far it hasn’t been as difficult of a battle as I imagined, which is thanks to clearly defined schedules and expectations with my family and a work team dynamic which provides a great deal of flexibility to each employee. I love this flexibility and how we are all empowered to do our jobs using methods which work best for us as individuals. I’d say the hardest part is working in isolation. We use Slack daily, meetup during the week for lunch (the majority of the team is local), and see each other in extra-curricular settings. But I do miss the in-office banter and spontaneity as well as bouncing ideas off other designers. We’re a growing company so I anticipate a day when I’ll have another designer or two working with me which I think will be great.


CB: A clearly defined schedule is essential to accomplishing work from home. Distractions are the gateway to procrastination, at least for me. What has your new schedule given you time to do now that you couldn’t before?

PC: The new schedule mostly enables me to be more available to my family but also more connected to the happenings around the home. My family has always been extremely important to me but the ritual of getting up and going into an office during the week hindered me from being as in tune with them as I wanted to be. No matter how hard I tried I found myself out of step with my wife and with my kids. Now that I’m at home, even though I work in a room with the door closed, I know what’s going on, I witness what my kids are up to, what my wife has on her plate, etc. and I can quickly make myself available to them. It also allows my wife the chance to step away to run errands without the kids if needed. In the end we have a much healthier family dynamic.


CB: That’s great! A good work/life balance is so important to being happy. I would imagine that designing for an e-commerce website is rather different than designing tees. Where do the ideas for your t-shirts come from?

PC: The recent shirt designs I’ve done came from old ideas I had but never did anything with. “Trifecta” was based on a design I made years ago when I was exploring a new design direction, just for fun. “Sunshine Time” is based on a piece in a site design I did for NET magazine when they asked me to come up with a shirt site built around a cause. It was a design challenge and one of the shirts I featured in the comp is essentially “Sunshine Time”. My design focus over the past few years has been apps, websites and product design. It took digging through my design archives to discover lost concepts and fresh ideas. Going forward I imagine I’ll need to lean on other source material to come up with new concepts.


CB: A few months ago you traveled to Ethiopia to work with Food For The Hungry. How did you get involved with them and what sorts of things did you do on your trip?

PC: I became involved with Food for the Hungry through an organization called Hope In Ethiopia, which is a partnership between the church I attend in Austin, Food for the Hungry, and the local community in Zeway, Ethiopia. The organization was founded when a group from the church learned about orphan-led households through Food for the Hungry. These were kids who had no support system, no means to go to school, or hope for a better future. Over the years money has been raised to help support their housing, school supplies, food, miscellaneous expenses as well as provide access to counseling, jobs-based training, and other means of meeting emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. Part of the annual work involves sending a group of people to meet with the kids in person, in their homes, to find out how they’re doing, what concerns or needs they may have, and how we can continue to support them. I was lucky enough to go on one of these trips back in April. We spent 4 days visiting kids and working alongside the local Food for the Hungry staff. It was an absolutely amazing trip, completely life-changing for me.


CB: Wow - that sounds amazing and so rewarding. Good for you for donating your time to such a worthy cause! We know you have a photography hobby and you used to write for Method & Craft, what’s filling your free time nowadays?

PC: Most of my free time is filled with family stuff. We started fostering a little girl in Oct and she’s still with us, so that is a big focus for us all right now. It’s been a fantastic journey! I do some freelance work from time to time, but try to keep that at a minimum and only small projects. We enjoy being outdoors, camping when the weather is nice, going swimming, etc. For pure fun I’ve gotten into Minecraft which has been a nice break from the day to day. My coworkers and I play on a server so we’re all building and exploring a world together. It’s nerdy but I shamelessly enjoy it.


CB: Nothing wrong with nerdy fun! Thanks for chatting with us, Phil.

You can see more of Phil’s work on his website, or follow him on twitter, dribbble, instagram, and VSCO. To be notified whenever Phil releases a new CB tee, sign up here.