Sebastian Abboud says you’ve got nothing to lose, by leaving Vancouver

Sebastian and his wife Maxine.Sebastian and his wife Maxine.

This is the fourth in a series of interviews with creative/knowledge workers who left Vancouver. Today’s guest is Sebastian Abboud, a graphic designer and instructor who left Vancouver for Nanaimo. He talks about how he came to Vancouver, why he left, and what he’s found since.

Tell me about your time in Vancouver:

When I moved to Vancouver from Calgary, I was working in-house as a graphic designer for a professional services firm. My contract was up in Calgary, and I willingly agreed to transfer to the Vancouver office—and into a full-time gig. That lasted for a few years, before taking the plunge into freelancing.

I had a blast over there, living in small apartments, and working out of my living room. Vancouver is great. I had a lot of fun, and even met my wife there. It was good while it lasted!

All of life’s essentials (rain, skateboards, pencils, and sneakers) are found in Sebastian’s illustrations. All of life’s essentials (rain, skateboards, pencils, and sneakers) are found in Sebastian’s illustrations.

When did you decide it was no longer for you?

I think for most people, as you get older, you look for more space. We were tired of paying too much money for too little space—not to mention never being able to own a house.

My wife decided that she was quitting her job and shifting to remote work. So we thought, “Hey, why not? Let’s try somewhere different.”

Why did you chose to move to Nanaimo?

She had been here before and we had some friends in the area. Proximity to Vancouver was important, as our family, friends, and the majority of my clients are over there.

Not to mention cost of living. We actually just bought our first house here, which is super exciting. We never even considered doing such a thing, until we moved to Nanaimo.

What do you like, and dislike, about Nanaimo?

I like that it’s up-and-coming and friendly. It’s also a little rough and not quite sure what it wants to be. Dislikes include that it isn’t that bike-friendly and there’s simply less happening (on the entertainment side of things).

Wednesdays are a bad day to have your fur repaired, in Nanaimo. Wednesdays are a bad day to have your fur repaired, in Nanaimo.

What kind of work do you do, now?

These days, I spend half my time working as a freelance graphic designer. The other half, I work as a sessional instructor at Vancouver Island University.

There’s another thing: being a part of the student design community and engaging with fellow instructors like Patrick Foster, also on OfficeHours, has been incredibility rewarding—both personally and professionally.

Do you miss the city?

For sure. I miss friends; I miss great public transit; I also miss riding bikes everywhere. That said, the great thing about Nanaimo is that it’s only a ferry ride away. So, Vancouver is still very accessible.

Another sampling of Sebastian’s whimsical illustrations. Another sampling of Sebastian’s whimsical illustrations.

How do you stay inspired? How/where do you take in new culture?

Things like Pecha Kucha Nanaimo and small community events are great. Nature also inspires me, as do the small weird antique shops up Vancouver Island. One of my colleagues, Jackie Duys-Kelly of Awarewolf Creative does an amazing job of fostering creative community here.

Given the subject of this interview, a somewhat à propos illustration by Sebastian. Given the subject of this interview, a somewhat à propos illustration by Sebastian.

What words of advice do you have for creative people in Vancouver, looking to relocate to somewhere smaller?

Just go for it—but do your research. What do you have to lose? The city will always be there.

Thinking of making a move, and have questions to ask? Book a free 10 minute session with Sebastian Abboud, and he’ll fill you in. :-)