Julie Bowman’s Workspace Is Truly For The Birds.
Welcome to Space Invaded, a recurring feature in which we peer into the desirable workspaces of various Dallas creatives and try keep our envy to a minimum.
In the backyard of an unassuming residential neighborhood in Dallas, freelance writer Julie Bowman boasts, perhaps, the single most interesting workspace in the entire city.
Here, Bowman, who owns and operates the Giant Noodle Freelance Network, is able to remove herself from the craziness of the real world and enter a wholly separate dimension filled with whimsy.
First, though, she has to climb up a ladder.
That’s because Bowman has turned every single childhood fantasy into a reality. Her office is, very literally, a tree house. More impressive? She designed it — herself, it’s worth noting — to look like a human-sized birdhouse. It’s a crazy sight to see. Even crazier, though, is the fact that, in addition to simply existing, her workspace also features electricity, air conditioning, a working bathroom and, should she need it, a twin bed.
Or maybe none of this is crazy. As Bowman explains in the below Q&A, her tree house does provide her with certain advantages in addition to just being completely and utterly awesome.What line of work are you involved in?
I’m a freelance writer and creative director for ad agencies across the country. I run a network of 70-plus other freelancers like myself.
What inspired you to become a copywriter?
Bewitched, Bosom Buddies, Thirtysomething, Nothing in Common and How to Get Ahead in Advertising.
Who’ve you worked with?
My full-time accounts have included Tabasco, Susan G. Komen, Ingersol Rand, Texas Lottery and others. I’ve also worked on freelance projects for such brands as Jagermeister, McDonald’s, Texas Tourism, Borden and Spike TV.Do you practice other forms of creative writing?
I occasionally write on my blog, Letters from the Birdhouse Treehouse, about the interesting things going on with the wildlife in my backyard. But when you spend all day in front of a computer, you have to walk away at night. So I don’t do as much personal writing as I’d like.
OK, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, your fantastic tree house. How did it come about and who built it?
My husband and I bought our house in September of ’06 with plans to renovate it ourselves. To design the addition, I needed to learn a 3-D modeling program called Google SketchUp, and, to familiarize myself with it, I started by designing a tree house. One day, Todd said, “You should make it look like a giant, people-sized birdhouse.” I thought the idea was genius, so that’s what I did. Long story short, Todd and I spent the next year completing the house renovation, but the tree house was always in the back of my mind, waiting to be built. Several years later, in 2010, when we were ready to start a new project, it was a choice between the tree house and a garage. For me, it was a no-brainer. To this day, I think we made the right decision, but ask me again after my car sits unprotected through another big hailstorm. I might have a different answer then.Do you actually work out of the tree house?
Both my husband and I are self-employed, and his office is in the house. So I often work in the tree house when I need someplace quiet to write. Or when I need someplace to be noisy and don’t want to bother him. The only time I avoid it is when it’s really windy. The entire building moves with the swaying tree, and can get a bit disconcerting.
Do you bring clients into your tree house?
The clients that I have here in Dallas generally prefer that I come to their offices and those who are out of town I rarely meet face-to-face. I work with them remotely. But I am frequently Skyping with people all over the country from my tree house desk. The ones on the East Coast always say “I’ve lived in apartments smaller than that!” On the West Coast, they say, “I had no idea that Dallas actually had trees!” And in August, everyone from everywhere says “Isn’t it like 150 degrees down there today?!” All summer long, I’m constantly assuring people that, with air-conditioning, a ceiling fan and a fully stocked mini-fridge, I’m really in no danger of dying.How important is it to be inspired by your work environment?
Your entire mindset is affected by your surroundings, and that affects the quality of your work. So, in my case, it’s incredibly important. I also think that, to be creative, especially when you’re writing, you really need your own private space to think. Truth is, I’m twice as productive in the tree house as I am in open floor-plan offices where every sound travels and every conversation distracts. But I think the most important thing about a work environment is that you’re happy to go there. And I feel fortunate to honestly say that I am.
What’s next for you and your tree house?
Who knows? Every project is a new adventure. Every phone call is another opportunity. It’s impossible to predict the freelance business, so you just keep working it to make sure you’re the one that’s top-of-mind. But, maybe, in the near future, we’ll have to expand. After all, a two-story tree house might be nice. One with a wraparound deck.