Design Drama

documenting the delicate dance of design

In Which I Respond to A Craigslist Ad on My Blog February 11, 2009

I’ve been surfing through Craigslist again & I read this little gem this morning: (I’ve bolded my favorite part)

Book designer (XXXXXXX, TN)
Date: 2009-02-11, 9:07AM CST

We are a progressive, up-and-coming book publisher located in the XXXXXXX, Tennessee area. We are showing steady growth this year, and find ourselves in need of a book designer with the following characteristics/qualities:

– Applicant must be familiar/knowledgeable/preferably expert at InDesign software. A knowledge of Quark would be beneficial as well. You will be designing the interiors of books. You will also be given the opportunity to design covers as well.

– A knowledge of Photoshop/Illustrator is a plus, a big plus. You should be able to edit photos and illustrations for use in hardcover/paperback books.

– You should be knowledgeable about of the book industry – how books are produced, distributed, marketed and purchased. You should know what an endpaper is; you should know a mass market paperback from a trade paperback. You must know that (bookstore name redacted) is not a country western duo.

– You will be designing the interior of books – layout, font selection, rules, styles, parts of a book, type, etc. You should be able to provide us with a few samples of your work that is similar in nature.

– You should be able to work at an acceptable rate of speed. Not sloppy fast, but reasonably quickly with an emphasis on quality. We often have deadlines. You must be able to meet them.

– You must not be a flake. You must respond to emails within one day, preferably sooner. You must be available. Projects must be done on time. Always. No exceptions at all. Again, we work on deadlines.

– You must be able to send/store large files easily and securely. You must be able to send files in a PC format. You should be bondable. You must be comfortable handling copyrighted material. You must not lose the material that we give you. You must take this seriously, very seriously. Our authors depend on us.

– You may be asked to correspond with authors directly. You should be able to do so in English, using proper grammar and sentence structure. Some of our authors are rather well-known, and since you will represent us, your writing skills must be up to snuff. You must copy us on all emails. You must know how to correspond with people in a timely and professional manner.

– It would be a plus if you can design book covers, and can provide samples of same.

Benefits:

– In return we can offer little pay [at present], but lots of opportunity for the future. We are growing, and expect to be around for a long, long time.

– You can work out of your home. After all, it’s probably all ready set up as a studio,so you are most comfortable and productive there. No reason to upset the creative boat.

Our emphasis is on quality, beauty, and content. You will be encouraged to learn all you can to keep your skill set fine tuned. Staying ahead of the pack is what it is all about.

Hope to hear from some qualified candidates soon,

(name redacted)

* Location: XXXXXXX TN
* Compensation: Contract per job
* Telecommuting is ok.
* This is a contract job.
* Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
* Please, no phone calls about this job!
* Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Did you hear a bang earlier? That wasn’t the weather, it was my head exploding.

Look, I get it – we’re in a financial crisis, and everyone is looking to get the maximum amount of work/stuff, etc for a good price. But to write a laundry list of tasks and then have the, for lack of a better word, BALLS to say “we can offer little pay” – well, all I can think is “no wonder they’ve apparently worked with flakes before – ONLY A FLAKE would answer this ad — you’d have to be crazy to sign up for this!” I mean really… why not, when writing this job description, Mr Job Poster, didn’t you say “Cure Cancer” and “Solve Middle East Peace”?

Oh, one of my favorite parts of this ad is how the job poster even went as far as to throw the “celebrity angle” in there in the sentence: Some of our authors are rather well-known. Yawn – Still doesn’t make me want to bite. This makes me realize that only the well-known author and the publisher will make any money even though the designer will be doing the grand majority of the work to make the book marketable to the average customer — after all, we’re the ones that make a book jump off the shelf and grab a consumer’s eye. And in my experience in design, the more cooks you have in the kitchen, so to speak, the more work there is to be done. And the project takes even longer to complete — for the same amount of money, usually.

I’ve looked around at other postings for jobs in other categories other than “art/media/design” and I never seem to find this low-balling fascination when people post jobs in other professions. The reason we chose to be creative is we like to create. Most of us are damn good at it. And, while we might have gotten used to the term “starving artist”, no one is striving to be one. And honestly, I can go work at the mall for more money than this joker is probably offering – AND when I leave the job at the mall they won’t call/email me around the clock – NOR will they expect me to do MORE and MORE work for the same amount of money. That’s almost always the case when a designer low-balls him/herself.

So, to all you job posters out there, with the audacity to write, well, a book of qualifications and job responsibilities like the one above, here’s a newsflash: most reputable designers have a little thing called “self-respect” and we’ve all met your kind before. You are a joke to us. Stories about you become the “worst client ever contest” of storytelling at our cocktail hours. And we’re not flakes either — but people like you, Mr Job Poster, make us so mad that we turn flaky… of course, what you call flaky is what we call “being compensated for the hard work we put forth for piss poor pay.”

After all, the job poster said it himself: Staying ahead of the pack is what it is all about. I suggest all designers stay ahead of the pack by steering clear of “jobs” like this.

UPDATE
The job has been reposted, and now the compensation reads “$100-$300” per book. Seeing as my minimum hourly rate is $75 per hour, I think I’ll pass. I’ve designed brochures for more money.

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Archiving your work – the Old Skool Way January 12, 2009

Most of my friends know that I can be a bit of a pack-rat. It’s a trait I got from my family – so I got it honest. But as of late, I’ve been purging around here – cleaning out closets, going through boxes and just simplifying in general around here. I filled 3 laundry baskets of with clothes, separated computer cords to take to the Goodwill – hopefully someone can use those, and about 87 cosmetic bags from the freebies from Clinique. I even found a Syquest drive from 1997 – the discs are only good for use as coasters at this point – Remember when 280 MB was a huge amount of storage?

Anyway, in a box in the back of my closet, I found a box with stuff from college. Inside, I found slides and photo negatives of stuff I’d done in Drawing I & II and Design I & II. Somehow, back then I had a wise professor that had the foresight to have us take our artwork to have it photographed for posterity. I gasped when I found this stuff. Immediately I began scanning the photos to put them in my archives of work.

I don’t know how stuff is done now – that is, if having work photographed is still the norm as I’ve been out of school for a little over ten years. But, to all design students out there, take your stuff and have photos taken. Or do it yourself. Don’t just rely on a hard drive or a disc to store your stuff. Have hard copies – slides or negatives – of your stuff. You never know when a hard drive will die on you – or fires or natural disasters – I have a friend who lost all her photos in Katrina, for example.

I am so thankful someone told me “Take it & have it photographed” – who knew?

 

I love Craigslist. And I hate Craigslist. October 20, 2008

I think I wrote a post a while back about how every couple of weeks, I click on Craigslist to see what’s going on in the job market.

I saw this posting today:

I need someone to draw/create a one frame cartoon or animated picture that can will be approximately 3″ x 4″. The job pays $50.00 and your resume should be a Sunday cartoon type sample of your choice of human character. i.e. Send a sample and I will choose the style that I like. I will pick one person on Friday Oct., 24th.
At that time I will send to you the subject around which the drawing will be based.

* Location: XXXXXXX
* Compensation: $50.00

Posts like these are laughable and irritating to me.

Why?

Ok, say you go to grocery stores A, B & C. You get a steak from each, telling the cashier at each grocery store “I’m going to take your steak home. I’m going to cook it & eat it, and if I decide your steak is best, I will pay you for it, but not your regular price, I only want to pay $2.”

They’d laugh in your face.

That’s how I feel about postings like this.

This is insulting.

 

The debate contingency plan at Ole Miss September 25, 2008

I adore political cartoons. I can sit and scroll through Daryl Cagle’s cartoon index for hours.

And my favorite of all when it comes to cartoonists is Marshall Ramsey, from the Jackson Mississippi Clarion Ledger.

My sister in law is a huge fan — much moreso than I — and she sent this to me after the whole “McCain leaving the debate” debacle. Marshall Ramsey always seems to hit exactly the right note. He continually amazes me.

People of Belmont University, you have 2 weeks — take notes 😉

H/T Marshall Ramsey

 

Summer Work 2008 July 11, 2008

I wrote in an earlier post about my summer endeavors — gardening and archiving photos. I do actually design for a living – I work for myself, by myself – and here’s my accounting of a few of the projects that have highlighted my summer of 2008.

CHIP GREENE PERFORMING SONGWRITER ADVERTISEMENT I have a really talented singer/songwriter friend here in Nashville, Chip Greene. I met Chip through another friend, Dave of Nashville Feed. In addition to being super talented in a musical fashion, Chip is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and he’s easy on the eyes as well. Chip called me one day to request my design services to create an ad for him to be published in Performing Songwriter Magazine. Chip performs often here in Nashville – as well, he’s recently completed show dates in Memphis at the Hi-Tone as well as New York City’s legendary Bitter End. Below, is the ad I created for Chip. And be sure to check out his website for music, show dates and all other musical goodness.

ADVENTURE SCIENCE CENTER – MEMBERSHIP BROCHURE We are very blessed here in Nashville to have The Adventure Science Center in our backyard. The fine folks over there contacted me to redesign their 2008 Membership Benefit Brochure to highlight the addition of the Sudekum Planetarium. The new planetarium is a huge coup for Nashville — the ASC website describes it better than I: At the center of the new Sudekum Planetarium is the GOTO Chiron optical star projector that fills the dome with more than 6.5 million stars (the previous star ball projected 2,500). This breathtakingly realistic night sky is combined with a Digistar 3, high-definition, full-dome system that projects images and animations of the wonders of the universe from horizon to horizon. No other planetarium in the country offers the seamless integration of these two technologies. The gently sloping seating and powerful 5.1 surround sound system give the visitors to the Sudekum a unique, immersive and exhilarating experience. If you have kids, or am just a full grown space-related geek like me, consider membership to the ASC. You can learn more at their website here. Meanwhile, below are images from the ASC’s new membership brochure I designed.

TENNESSEE ANIMAL RESOURCE CENTER – LOGOS The Tennessee Animal Resource Center is staffed by some really caring people who generously donate their time to the quality of life, rescue and adoption of our furry friends. From the TARC website: The Tennessee Animal Resource Center (The ARC) was established as a 501(c )3 nonprofit organization in 2006 by a group of women dedicated to ending the pain and suffering caused by the pet overpopulation problem. Coming from a variety of professional and personal backgrounds, this dedicated board has developed a unique model designed to assist and train animal welfare agencies while promoting and funding spay and neuter efforts across the State of Tennessee. The ladies at TARC contacted me to design some logos for their cause. These included the TARC logo itself and the logo for their 2008 Spay It Forward Conference. The ladies were a joy to work with and I admire them for their hard work and tenacity when it comes to the welfare of cats and dogs. Thanks to all of my wonderful clients, past and present, for making my working life so fullfilling! And, for more examples of work from my day gig, click over there to the right, on my sidebar — there is a link that says “My Art” and that will direct you to my website with more design from the past.

 

The Possibility of Falling in Love with Logo Design / Adobe Illustrator April 28, 2008

Like most designers I know, I have my own little beaten path of doing things. I love love love Photoshop and could work in it almost exclusively. But for logos, I force myself to use Illustrator because it’s the right way to do things.

In the past few months, I’ve had more logo work come across my desk than normal.
As I’ve stated before, I’m not the biggest fan of logos. Of course, like everything else, practice makes perfect. I’ve found, recently, as I blogged about a few posts back, that sketching logos by hand, away from the computer is the way to really let the mind play – to not rely on the fonts loaded on a computer to dictate the look of a logo

Honestly, I think the true reason I shudder at the thought of the design of logos is I’ve never really felt all that comfortable in Adobe Illustrator. I was one of those people that learned Aldus/Macromedia Freehand (I’m showing my age here, ack!) & Illustrator in college, but it was really on my own, even though I was paying money to be taught — which means I didn’t really learn it as well as I should.

And that’s the thing here: knowing Illustrator and KNOWING Illustrator are two different animals. I started a project for 3 logos this week and grudgingly opened Illustrator, because I’m a big believer that logos should be initiated as vector art.* Anyway, so, I bit the bullet and decided I wasn’t going to let my fear take over.

I didn’t know how to do this one thing I wanted to do and I started Googling. I stumbled across this website, Illustrator Techniques. Where has this been all my angst filled Illustrator life? This website is just what I needed at just the right time. And it’s actually more than I needed. Looking at the galleries and reading the tutorials are really amazing, because they are written from the standpoint of being kinder and gentler to the reader — they’re not written over my head. Just “here’s how you get from point A to point B to point C to point D. I love this site!

*I wish I had a dime for every time I had to work with someone’s shitty version of a logo pulled from the web, scanned poorly or designed as 72 dpi — I wouldn’t be working; I’d be sitting on a beach, cold Corona in hand.