Unnatural Disaster 

This past week has been bad. Everything that could go wrong did. Too many projects due at once, printer screw-ups, and difficult to weed designs made my work schedule horrible. Due dates had to be flexible whether or not they actually were. 

I survived it. My employer even gave my coworker and I a $50 bonus for getting through it mostly. We did save a couple of due dates! Ok, so it wasn’t a disaster, but it was stressful and changed my schedule to accommodate it. It felt worse than it was I think. And this was a pay week. Silver linings…

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

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Le Sigh

I feel stupid a LOT these days. Maybe I needed a lesson in humility. I don’t think I know everything, but I don’t like discovering I’ve done something wrong that could have been prevented by better training or or own creativity in problem solving. Some days, though, I feel like an ignorant child. 

I want to learn new things. That’s the good part of all this. New skills means more marketable when I’m ready to find a new job. I’m not goo any everything. I’ll never been a jack of all trades. But I can try my best and do what I can. I don’t think I ever want to run my own print shop, but working in one shows me how my work might someday be used so I can avoid designs that won’t look good after printing. 

As for the things I feel stupid about, it’s not as bad as I make it sounds. How I feel is true, but it’s not like these are Earth-shattering mistakes. The business isn’t going to fold because of it or anything. I don’t think I’m that important! With a little luck and hard work I’ll be able to teach someone else to do what I do so no one will ever have to go through what I did!
Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Branding

I work at a shop that does signage and branding as well as graphic design. That influence has led me to think that there’s a better way to embrace my name as a brand. You’ll notice that there’s a new profile picture and banner across my social media and web presence.

Let me know what you think. I’m open to feedback. My idea was to have it be bold and still have color as an accent. So I narrowed it down to black and two shades of green. If I ever need it in black and white I will likely have a single white stripe where the dark green is and the lighter shade will be black. That maintains the stripe effect while simplifying for one-color applications if needed. The M would be recognizeable on its own, which is a big plus!

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. 

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. 

Work Work Play

My first complete week of work is almost over. It’s only 30hrs this week, but I feel good about being full-time starting Monday, July 24, 2017. I’ve made mistakes but learned from them. I want to do more but I’m limited by how the shop is set up with three people working and only one computer with access to the printer.

My coworker used that computer to set up files for printing all day. I’m not sure what took so long for two files. I want to think she knows better than I do, but nothing I’ve learned so far would take that long. Unless my coworker seriously undertrained me, it shouldn’t take more than an hour to send one file to print. Of course, that’s a distinct possibility. I don’t claim to be all-knowing by any stretch. In fact, I often think I’m the biggest idiot ever when it comes to learning new things. It bothers me that from what I’ve seen and been told, there’s nothing here that’s totally new to me. There are quirks that I need to learn, but my perception is telling me there are things I haven’t been told, and probably not by malice. Youth is a tough thing when it comes to hiring workers. I think I wasn’t told things because my two co-workers, younger than I, intuit things because they are still young and in school or fresh out of college in the last two years. I’ve been in the workforce for a decade, but I seem to have picked up skills and an understanding of Illustrator these two don’t have. I don’t know why that should be since college is the best place to learn Adobe Creative Cloud programs given students’ discounts. 

I guess I’ll have to wait and see what happens. Stick to my guns and try to be understanding. I’m the newcomer, but I’m also an independent contractor and I’m not an idiot. I can learn new things and I intend to do it! I’m glad I can subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud thanks to this job. I need this job to keep moving towards freelancing. It will be hard to do both. It’s already hard. Maybe when I feel less in the dark I won’t be as drained from energy at the end of the day. I would have done some projects yesterday, but my computer was downloading and installing all of the Adobe programs. So it will be much better after today! 

Take it easy and remember to smile.