Time Travels Towards…

…what? I have no idea. I wanted to use alliteration and that’s what came to mind.  I haven’t written much in the past two weeks for two reasons. For one, my job makes me stressed out enough that I have not been able to put the work in for freelancing. For two, my time has been sucked away by looking for an apartment and moving. My official move-in date is August 25th. It’s not likely anything is going to change until then. 

It feels horrible. I’ve been trying to submit proposals on Upwork and do at least one contest entry per week to keep up my practice. I haven’t landed any other freelance jobs and I know that’s because I barely put in 5 hours per week. I haven’t advertised on social media either. 

So that changes today. I must, at least, attempt 1 social media posting per week with a link to my Upwork profile. Posts from me will always be scheduled to drop at 6am to maximize the possibility that people will see it by chance. Here’s to hope for the future. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Gallery

Indescribable Inertia

I grew up in a house. My parents owned houses my entire life. When I turned 30 I was finally able to move out with my then-boyfriend to a very nice 1-bedroom in Wheaton, IL. It was a lucky find and I love it here. I don’t want to move away from Wheaton. But there’s nothing we can afford but studio apartments, which would be a huge step down in room for us. 

It should be air in the wind compared to the journey I’m on trying to work full time and make time to freelance. It’s stressful with so much up in the air in the next 3 weeks. I’m doing my best, but I’m floundering a little right now. I’m being pulled in different directions and the net force feels like zero, but I know I’ll still keep moving one way or another. 

I managed to send out a proposal for a job on Upwork.com tonight. That felt nice. I’m also trying to make a t-shirt design for my husband. On top of that, my husband won some plane tickets at work. While that’s nice that we have a flight to use sometime between now and next February, it’s really hard to even think about that. It’s the final straw on the camel’s back. I want to focus on work, our lives, and my own happiness. Trip planning will have to wait until September. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Credit Where Due

I had an epiphany today. I was working on a job at work and started doing corrections to make the result polished when I noticed that some of the details were rather ugly ok a logo. The designer had clearly used Image Trace in Illustrator. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but I did a better job in less than 10 minutes. I think that extra 5-8 minutes I spent on it are the difference between good and great. 10 minutes is the equivalent of $0.16 under my own pay scale. The business is not losing money by taking the time to do the job right. Even if no one would have noticed the curves and bobbles of the Image Trace, you don’t want to give the the opportunity to either.

I guess all of the above depends on the complexity of the work to be done. Maybe I’d use Image Trace for a photo or complex logo and only fix the bare minimum if it was going to take, say, an hour, or $10, of my time. I have had to use Image Trace for a photo simply because the original wasn’t big enough for me to use. Usually, however, I make it look like it’s a bit pixelated anyway so it looks like a raster, what most people expect from a digital photo. 

I try to avoid Image Trace on the whole unless I’m looking to clean up or stylize something. For example, I have a drawing in pen or pencil. I want the lines to be black and crisp and the whites to be transparent. Image Trace is perfect for that! You can set it so that you only have black and white and then play with the threshold and minimum area size in order to clean up some lines or make sure some fainter ones are traced properly. It’s a good idea to expand an Image Trace before editing it. Expanding the result allows for editing individual points. I’ve also used the Path > Simplify option to further clean up needlessly complex results. It’s an art in itself. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Image

deejay.photo


This design showcases the entertainment and event planning part of Ronnie’s business. The brief mentioned that the client wanted to see a design with foil in it, so I made my cards using the 877C Pantone swatch. Of course, the client could choose to have his cards foil stamped, which is more expensive. Either way, I included a mockup of the card so the client could see where the foil/metallic ink would go. The black area is what will be silver in the final design. The client also wanted the card to be two-sided so I put his contact information on the back. Since the logo was already a camera, I thought I’d stay away from photography related iconography. 

I chose to make this card tall instead of wide to emphasize the spotlight on the camera logo, which will be silver. It also affords the logo some much needed space. The client provided a logo, but I thought the lettering, especially the small lettering under the deejay.photo, would be too small when it came to print. I did a test print on my home printer and it bled fiercely. I know that professional printers would have much better detail in their prints, but why run the risk? I beefed up the typography while maintaining the weight proportions of the original.

Short and Long

First the short story: the apartment my husband and I are currently renting is going to be renovated and the new price is more than we can afford to pay every month. We love the apartment building we live in, but money is money. We have to be out by August 31. 

Now for the long bit.

As anyone who is reading this blog knows I started a new job a week and a half ago. Most apartments want 2 pay stubs to prove how much you make. Well there’s a caveat. I’m self-employed. That means my pay stubs and taxes aren’t straight forward like the W2 checks you get through a corporation. I have to take out 20.25% on my own for state and Federal taxes. It’s a lot less than typical taxes, but it’s also not paid to the government until next April (tax time). So how do I prove that I have a full time job that pays enough to prove that my husband and I together make 2x’s the rent? 

Here’s my plan

Im going to draw up an excel sheet showing my voided check and the amount set aside for taxes. I’m lucky since I have been paying taxes for at least 10 years now so I don’t have to worry about estimated payments. I just use the current Self-employment rates and pay when I file my taxes. I’m hoping that will be enough to prove that I started part time and have moved to full time. Also I’m going to tell them to call my boss because she can confirm that I’m full time at $10/hr. I will have a second heck next Friday. Maybe we can put down a security deposit to hold any apartment while I get paid and can send them my second check. I’d hate to miss a good apartment because I happen to be new at my job. This can’t be a strange circumstance on the whole. I have enough for a security deposit but my husband and I will have to share the first month’s rent for that to work out in the timing. I hope the security deposit will hold the apartment until At least mid-August when I’ll finally have the money for the first month’s rent and then have the same deal I had before. Where the second month is going to be like 10-15 days before the third-twelfth months go back to die on the first.

Man! This stuff is confusing!!!

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Clients are like Onions

Clients come to you and say “I need some shirts made.” You tell them how everything is priced and what the limits are. Then you realize this isn’t just someone who wants to make one or items, but they are planning an entire future starting here. If at first a client is demanding maybe we as designers need to ask them about their lives and motivations. 

Today, I was at my job all alone. I didn’t know that would be the case until today. It was on the calendar but I clearly didn’t read the times well enough. Not only was everything just fine, it was also eye-opening. A customer came in to approve some details on his order. I walked him through what I needed to know, told him what I knew he needed to be told, and thought that would be that. 

It turned out he was an aspiring clothing designer. By clothing designer I don’t mean someone with a degree in fashion, but someone who wanted to make an entire line of graphic tees and products. So I asked him more about what he needed and wanted since he seemed to be willing to learn to do the work for himself and save some money. He was making these designs, or having someone else make them, for a line of clothing inspired by and dedicated to a family member that was important to him. 

I never would have known this information if I hadn’t asked the question “what is it you want to do?”  Does that make me a Chatty Cathy? Is that inappropriate for a “clerk” at a small shop? I think I helped out a customer. Hopefully, that will help bring him back to our services in the future. Maybe he will tell his friends about the shop. 

I’d love to say where I work because the publicity would surely help business. I haven’t because I have published some personal thoughts about coworkers and my employer. To be sure, there are ways of finding this information anyway for someone dedicated to finding it. I also want to protect our customers and have avoided naming names as much as possible. I want this blog to be about my thoughts and lessons in my journey of freelancing and self-employment. How to talk to others is so critical! It’s been a tough 32 years of life being socially inept. I’m ready for more, anyway. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Holding Two Jobs

Anyone who has had to work two jobs knows it’s unpleasant unless it’s 2 strictly part time jobs. I, of course, don’t fall into that category. I don’t even get paid time off since I’m an independent contractor and self-employed. There’s a real freedom to that. 

There’s also the problem that I don’t make nearly as much as I used to in a corporate job. I’m not complaining here. It is what it is. Having to be full time is a time-sink that doesn’t, yet, pay enough for the long run. I think that will get better soon. I also think I need to stop crashing at the end of the day and do design work! I feel awful about it. No more! Starting next week I take it seriously. I start treating my own freelancing as a second job that needs part-time dedication, at least 10 hours per week. 

This is it! Do or die! There is no try, only do! Where’s that from? Anyway, I’m still determined to get myself established in the freelancing world. I’ve been submitting proposals, at least one every couple of days. I can show that I’m actively trying. What I need to do is still look up a contest or two in the meantime to work on. That gets me practice even if I never win. 

Red. Yellow. Green. GO!

Take it easy and remember to smile.