Nov 25, 2010

If you want my professional opinion, stfu.

I've posted about my verbal diarrhea before (here), where I tell everyone everything about myself, no matter how inappropriate or mundane (no one cares about my ruined fruit cup).  Today I'd like to address another kind of diarrhea (also verbal, don't worry).  This kind of of verbal refuse is the unnecessary chatter about the job you've just finished doing for a client.  It's fine if you're talking to a friend about the job you just did, the challenges you had to overcome, etc "Hi Stan!  Printing your tote bags was really hard but I'm such a good printer that I managed to do it!"  But a client who is nothing more than a client doesn't need to hear about how, you know, the white layer went on so thick that the black layer on top couldnt' get down to the fabric around the edges, and so you had to print the black layer twice, and normally you would lose information doing that, but such is your skill and mastery of the squeegee that you maintained the subtle details, blahblahblah.

Clients do not want to hear this crap.  Especially if said client knows NOTHING about your craft (and why should they? That's why they hired you).  Do you want to hear the ins and outs of the complex back end programming of your online store?  Do you want your insurance underwriter to give you a play by play on how they wrote the policy on your car?  NO.  You want them to shut up and do their jobs.  Not only is it boring for someone to yammer on about something that you don't know anything about, it also makes you sound kinda desperate, like Gil from the Simpsons.  "Close the deal Gil, close the deal!"  Well, you already did close the deal.  So shut your trap and just let the client enjoy the work you've done without you cheapening it by talking about how you did it and how good you must be for getting the job done.

Nov 18, 2010

The long and (very) short of it. And by "it", I mean sleep.

My glass of lemon mineral water I enjoyed by candle light while writing this entry.

It's been my first official week back to work.  All I can say is wow.  I'm tired.  Well, it's not all I can say, otherwise this post would be over now.  I've been up working in the studio and running errands since 7 this morning, and 12 hours later I'm finally sitting down for a rest.  What I want to talk about is reality, or at least MY reality.

I thought that working from home with a baby would be easy-peasy.  I had this vision of myself at my drafting table, baby on my back, working the day away like I used to.  In reality, I can only work for 2 hours or so at a time, because I have to stop to nurse the baby.  And, in reality, I can't seem to get her strapped to my back without her throwing up on my neck.  Twice (something about the bouncing to get her up high enough on my back).  Also, one requires a certain amount of rest in order to function the next day.  As awesome as night feedings are (who doesn't love to snuggle a tiny baby in the dark?) they are depriving me of something integral to my performance:  more than 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  The reality is, I have no idea when I'm going to sleep again, since I have no intention of moving Myriam from my bed any time soon.  I though that my life would continue on just as it was,  more or less, except I'd be carrying a baby.  Not so.

What I'm discovering is that things are different than they were, and they're different from how I thought they would be.  This reality is both new and unexpected.  Toss in a pressing need to work, and each day starts feeling like more of a mess than the last.  It's not the work, or the baby, or the bio hazardous kitchen that throws me off.  It's the things that I'm not doing, like watching a movie from start to finish, doing yoga in the evening, or drawing late at night.  It's the loss of the non-essential activities that I feel so profoundly.

So, here's my secret to dealing with a new reality:  give in and accept it.  Ohhh, you're more tired than you used to be?  Ohhh, you don't have as much time to spend on yourself as you did before?  Too bad.  Life is change.  Time passes, and each moment is different from the next.  I don't mean to settle into a life that's less than what you want and give in to defeat.  I mean in order to move forward in life you first have to accept it the way it is.  Then you can start to prioritise, find out what can't be helped, and learn to work around it to be happy.  I MUST work, so sometimes my house is gonna be a little...filthy in a way that the rats won't even come in.  I MUST take care of my daughter, so my late night drawing is gonna have to wait for a few years.  Instead of clinging to what I used to do, I'm accepting that things are different now and all I just have to do something else.  This evening, my yoga is replaced by cradling a baby and writing this blog entry.  That's a change I'm willing to make.

Nov 10, 2010

MacGyver the shit out of it.

As I was getting ready to prepare some screens this morning I realised how makeshift a lot of my studio equipment is.  See, when the idea first came to me to set up a screen studio, I was reluctant to do it without a $100G bank loan, a proper studio space in a commercial area, an 8 arm printing press, you get the idea.  I wanted to start BIG.  I thought that if I didn't have a studio worth 1/4 of a million dollars then I wasn't a professional, that it wasn't a proper business.  I quickly realised that I was wrong (read the whole story here) 

Now I see that when starting out, it's fine to start out small, and do what you have to in order to succeed.  I'm not saying set up a shanty hut to work out of with cheap crappy supplies, half of which were found at the dump.  I'm just saying it's fine to be resourceful when appropriate.  My lightsafe space for drying screens is the cardboard box that the screens were actually shipped to me in.  I make it light safe by draping 2 or 3 towels over the opening.  My fancy way to expose screens is rigging up a 500 watt light to one arm of my press and letting it hang over the screen, which is placed on the floor.  I clean screens at a carwash near my house, since I don't have a proper washout booth.  Amazing, right?  Learning to MacGyver could be the difference between going into business, and daydreaming about going into business.

It will be a cold day in hell when I get a $100,000 loan from the bank.  But by prioritizing the necessities (like a proper printing press, flash cure unit, ink system, and dryer) and jimmying up the rest MacGyver style, I was able to set up a (small) professional screen studio.  Now I can start working toward my commercial space and 8 arm press.  Or perhaps just toward building a lightsafe space for my screens, and installing a washout booth so I don't have to go to the carwash twice a week.  Baby steps though, right?

Nov 8, 2010

Don't be so stupid with your time, dummy.

You get used to living your life a certain way, then things change, and you have to find new ways to do things, create new habits, develop new routines, drop all your old ones.  I used to crawl out of bed around 9 or 10, relax around the house for an hour or two, then work as I pleased at intervals of my choosing.  Now I'm up at 7 or 8 in the morning to feed, change, and play with the midget for 2 hours, after which she goes back to sleep.  That's the magic time when most moms eat, bathe, check emails, smoke crack, etc.  That's what I've been doing too, up until now (minus the crack.  I'm a meth girl 'cause I love the way my face looks covered in scabs).

I'm realizing, however, that this new routine is going to have to change if I ever want to get any work done.  I've discovered that those magic hours in the morning when Myriam is sleeping are the hours during which I have the most energy.  By the time my next chunk of "me" time rolls around in the afternoon, I'm ready to crawl under a rock somewhere, never to be seen again.  Like an idiot, that is the time I normally allot for work.  Can you guess what happens?  That's right, NOTHING.  Nothing ever gets done.  Well, an old Will and Grace DVD gets watched, some potato chips get eaten, but that is all. 

So, here's my third tip for solving my time management issue mentioned here.  Don't be an asshole with your time.  Sounds obvious, but it's taken me 28 years to figure it out, even though I'm sure I've been told before.  Decide when your most productive hours during the day are, and reserve that time for working and nothing else.  If your productive hours are on Friday night from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., then you'll have to spare your social life and be a freaky shut in if you ever want to succeed.  Luckily for me, my productive hours occur when the rest of the world is unconscious.  Too bad I'm the one who's unconscious on Friday nights, and I'm the freaky shut in.

Oh well.  I'm sure it wont' be long before my habits change again.  Maybe one day my afternoons won't be filled with Will and Grace, and potato chips, but Flight of the Concords and Cheetos.