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. 

Looking Forward

As of this post, I’ve been working for 3 days, one of them completely in my own. It was really nice! So far, there’s nothing I’m totally in the dark about. I’ve worked with printers and an iron before. I’ve done iron-on transfers on a small scale. The one at the store is a giant 18 inch press instead of a small apparel iron like most people have at home. It’s actually easier to use since it’s hotter and does all the pressing for me! The embroidery machine is not very complicated since I’ve used a sewing machine once or twice, but I’ve yet to have a job to do on it to test myself. 

I learned the store does not do its own embroidery design. When they receive an embroidery purchase, they send out custom designs to be converted into an embroidery file. I may look into learning that to add to the store repertoire. I imagine I could do it for a lot cheaper. It may not be a long-term goal for the store, but it can’t hurt. Besides, it will add to my skills as a designer so I can make better decisions about how my designs work in various mediums. I can now ask clients questions such as “do you intend to use the design as embroidery?” It’s one of those skills I would t think I’d ever need to learn, but having it is a huge plus. If I do leave at the end of a year, I could always offer for the store’s owner to have me on file for their embroidery needs. 

I wonder if that’s something I want to do long term anyway. I have much interest in crafting and needlearts. I used to do cross stitch and hand embroidery as a kid, I still do crochet, and I recently taught myself to knit. Who knows. Maybe I will find out I didn’t know what I wanted to do all along. I have wanted to be a crafter for years. But it doesn’t pay to make hats all day. Embroidery files and making iron-on patches would be a big seller. Making something on a machine is always better than by hand in terms of making a business profitable. I’ve often thought about purchasing a knitting machine to sell knit clothing, but that’s a discussing for another post. 

Take it easy and remember to smile.

First Day Jitters

It’s no surprise that nerves are part of the first day at any new job. Mine started with needing to use the toilet only to find out there was a problem. The pipes leaked black stinky water on top of my smelly deposits. Perfect. Just what I wanted on the first day at a new job. At least it can’t get worse! I’m asking to use the toilet at the company next door. I told them I’d be back. 

So far so good. It’s a lot to do. I’m not alone right now so that’s the really good news. I’m sure that will be me in a year. The processes are common sense for the most part. They comply with what I already know about printing. The embroidery machine is new to me but also is similar to a normal sewing machine. I’m not as completely in the dark as I could have been.  Yay!

Take it easy and remember to smile.