Category Archives: for doing the right thing.

You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy…

Be True To Your Work, And Your Work Will Be True To You

…But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for. —Billy Joel

A long, long time ago (the early ’90s), in a land far, far away (Brooklyn), I was a student of design. I suppose I still am a student of design, but back then I was given specific (and sometimes not-so-specific) assignments. Okay, that’s still the case too. But at that time I had full creative control as well as very few design prejudices. And so it was for a packaging assignment that I conceived of a line of aerosol home air fresheners. At a time when the available options on the supermarket shelves were this or that floral fragrance, my line was based on food aromas. Although my entire portfolio of work from that period was lost when I moved to Colorado, I still remember that the two scents I fleshed out were Roasted Coffee Bean and Warm Cherry Pie. And that as part of my idea for a boutique line of higher-end home fragrance, the predominant color of the packaging was black.

I don’t recall my overall grade for the project, but I do remember that my professor lambasted me during the classroom critique for using black on a product that had any relation whatsoever to food. Black, it seems, is not an appetizing color.

Ahem. The following case studies were all gathered via the dieline (a collection of “the world’s best packaging design”). Clicking on any image will take you to a brief article about its product and creative process.

Okay, I’ll stop here. I think you get my point. There were certainly features of my presentation that day which could have been improved upon, but I firmly defended my color scheme. The professor overruled my argument, but I’ve never once doubted my decision. We never got the chance to do a second round of drafts in school, but real life is different. If you believe in a particular feature of your design but the client says no, you may yet be on the right track. What can you do to improve your concept so that the client falls in love with your vision? After all, that’s why the client hired you, instead of The Other Guy.

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Filed under day job, design, food, for doing the right thing., packaging

Facebook Fiasco: An Update

As many of you know, a buncha weeks ago I’d been involuntarily logged out of my Facebook account, and no longer had any access to my personal profile or my shop’s fan page. The page was still public and visible, I simply couldn’t administer it.

The other day while helping a friend work on her own business page, I asked her to surf over to mine to see a particular app I wanted to show her. Curiously, she was redirected back to her page. I tried viewing it from my own device, and was redirected to the default Facebook login page.

Today I tried from my desktop, and was again redirected to the login page. I figured I had nothing to lose, and tried to log in. I was greeted with this:

DISABLED. And in red, so you know they’re serious.

I certainly do have questions or concerns, so I clicked on the hyperlink. That brought me to:

Impersonation? Nope. Misrepresentation? Nope. Spamming? Nope. Hmmm.

When I click on the “contact us” hyperlink shown above, I’m instructed to upload a JPG of a government-issued ID such as my passport or drivers liscense [sic]. Which there is no way I’m doing. Jeepers, they can’t even spell “license” and I’m supposed to trust them to safely store or delete a scan of my passport? PLEASE. But there’s this little caveat lower down on the page anyway:

No warning? SEVERE VIOLATION. No soup for you.

So I guess Facebook doesn’t want me, or my shop’s fan page, on their site. At all. Access to my government-issued IDs notwithstanding. So, to all of the human admins behind the many pages with which I enjoyed interacting: It’s not you, it’s me. Well, really, it’s Facebook. But the point is, it’s not you.

You can visit tiddleywink.com for easy links to some of the social media sites that haven’t kicked me off.

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Filed under for doing the right thing., pet peeves

In Which Things May Change

I laundered. I steamed. I took photos. I ran out of oomph.

Last week, I said I’d be posting some charming vintage aprons in the shop.

I didn’t forget. I gave up. By the time I’d steam-burned my hand for what seemed like the 427th time (and I’m pretty good with a garment steamer, seeing as I’ve been using them for something like 6 or 8 years now), I hit the proverbial wall. I’ll sell these aprons for $8-$12 a piece, and for what?

I’m tired. I’m tired of driving the miles to wait in line to push through crowds to paw through filthy, wrinkled piles to dig out the gems.

Tired of inspecting every seam every button every snap, of hauling loads to the dry cleaner, of hand-laundering what I can or have to, of re-sewing hems and re-attaching buttons, of steaming steaming steaming to get every single piece photo-ready.

Tired of fighting with cameras and lighting stands and buying photo bulbs that are NEVER bright enough, of losing half of my basement (and thank goodness I have a basement) permanently to photo studio/inventory/shipping supply storage.

Tired of color-balancing photos, of taking measurements, of researching labels*, of researching price comps, of writing descriptions.

Tired of answering umpteen questions** from potential customers, and so rarely getting a “thanks” in return.

Tired of paying for every listing, paying for every sale, paying for every credit card transaction, paying for advertising space that doesn’t return the investment.

 Tired of trying to figure out the perfect storm of tags that will actually get my listings to show up in searches in the bizarre and ever-changing world of Etsy “relevance.”

Tired of re- (and sometimes re-re-re-) listing items that don’t sell the first time around, even when they’re in perfect condition, a wearable size, and better priced than my competitors.

Tired of packing boxes and writing out Customs forms and making trips to the post office.

Tired of what a mad nest of paperwork my income taxes have become.

Tired of feeling oppressed by the sheer volume of inventory that isn’t yet photographed/listed.

All of this excess is…excessive. I am very seriously considering consigning my entire inventory at one of the local brick-and-mortar shops. Tiddleywink Vintage‘s stock (and back-stock) would easily quadruple what Jolly Goods currently has to offer in the clothing area. Or maybe Night & Day Vintage would have room. I could sell off my backdrops, my mannequins, my studio lighting. I’d get my basement back, and some free time. But…

I’d miss it. Yes, everything I’ve griped about above is true. But the fact of the matter is that I’ve never done this for fame and glory and easy money. (Ha!) I do it because I see beautiful vintage clothing that is potentially destined to become next year’s shredded Halloween costume if I don’t get it in front of the eyes of people who also appreciate its worth.

As other enthusiasts have noted, vintage clothing is getting harder to find. These items are 50-60-70 years old (or more), and they’re aging out. We can take all of the care we can muster, but we wear this clothing. Over time, fabrics deteriorate. Threads break. Buttons fall off. Zippers jam. Drinks get spilled. And yes, some items become next year’s Zombie Crawl*** costume. As time goes on, more pieces get lost to the rag bin. Can I, in good conscience, let it all go?

Time will tell. But time, and my patience, is running short.

*This part is actually right up my alley, but it’s frustrating that I spend hours researching items so that I’m confident they’re properly attributed, and then I see other sellers who so blatantly don’t bother. And we probably have equivalent revenue.

**I don’t mind as much when they’re good, valid questions. I mind very much when they’re stupid, thoughtless questions that could be answered by reading the item description. I understand that the item may not be your size/style/exactly what you’re looking for. I won’t be hurt if you don’t buy the item being discussed. But for goodness’ sake, say “thank you” when I answer your questions!

***Another seller grieved over the vintage piece sold to a customer who then gleefully exclaimed that she actually planned to shred and blood-stain it for a Zombie Crawl costume. We can’t always win.

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Filed under collections, fashion, for doing the right thing., life-threatening clutter, shopping, vintage

By Any Other Name

NOTE: This post has been languishing in my Drafts for a good, long time. However, Google+ informed me today that my account there will be cancelled on Friday because my user name does not conform to their new requirements. I am not pleased.
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What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.          —Wm. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

 

 

I introduce myself as Wink.
You, assuming you misheard me, ask me to repeat my name.
I repeat it, and spell it out for clarification.
You (rudely, I might add) insist upon my telling you my “real” name.
Inwardly, I sigh.

I explain that Wink is my surname, really, truly. It’s been a nickname since I was a kid in part because, while it sometimes invokes this hassle of a conversation, it is still less arduous to deal with than my given name, which an alarming number of people cannot grasp. You then insist (again, here you are with the rudeness) that I tell YOU my given name, because you seem to want to prove that you are “better” than the majority of people who screw it up. At this point it’s not a fair fight, because this whole lead-in has warmed up your synapses so that you concentrate on it. I will tell you this: The most common annoyances include people mispronouncing it (sometimes over and over and over, requiring me to correct him/her Every. Single. Time.), or insisting that I’m mispronouncing it (!!!), or misspelling it, or flat-out not comprehending it, or making up their own cutesy nicknames for it in spite of my protests, or people asking if it’s my real name. Seriously, were you raised by gorillas?

Most co-workers use my given name, and a few friends-who-used-to-be-coworkers-and-so-met-me-that-way. A couple of friends who met me THROUGH co-workers. People who met me in high school, which was the window of time between being called Little Wink and, once I grew taller than my sister and we moved away from each other thus avoiding confusion, Wink. My surname-sharing family members typically call me by my first initial.

This particular habit of not going by my legally-given name turns out to be a family tradition. Both of my grandfathers went by Bill, were legally William, but one was given the name Wolf at birth. My grandma Jo is legally Josie, but she feels it sounds too much like a nickname so she uses Josephine on things like her bank account. I’m told that my grandma Belle, whom everyone called Sisse, didn’t find out until she was 40 that the name on her birth certificate was actually Beulah. My mother has never liked her given name and was known as Cookie throughout her childhood, while I remember her being called Tige (a diminutive of her last name) when I was a kid.

Listen. It’s my name. Mine. Has been my whole life. Trust me when I tell you that it’s been a nuisance that I have dealt with for decades. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely name. I wished it were different when I was a child, but I grew into it, as it were. Regardless, you insisting that it’s no big deal only adds to my hassle. So shut the hell up. Stop being rude. If I tell you my name is Petula Rufflebottompanties, please just say, “It’s nice to meet you.” Once you confirm the correct spelling.

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This post is dedicated to all of my family members, both maternal and paternal, who bear unusual surnames; to my bestest cousin, who also has a lovely-but-pain-in-the-ass given name; as well as to my growing “collection” of friends with unusual given names who are SO OVER being mispronounced, misspelled, and misunderstood.

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Filed under family, for doing the right thing., friends, pet peeves

Memorial Day

Cpl. Harry Sisserman, b. 1918. Enlisted 1942. KIA 1944/5

From Wikipedia: Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War I. […] A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time. Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. Volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at National Cemeteries. […] The National Memorial Day Concert takes place on the west lawn of the United States Capitol. The concert is broadcast on PBS and NPR. Music is performed, and respect is paid to the men and women who gave their lives for their country.

From Twitter: Happy Memorial Day!

Um… “happy” memorial? Look, it’s not that I don’t want everyone, in general, to be happy. And I don’t expect anyone to spend the day in mourning. Have your cookouts, enjoy the company of your friends, do what you will. But please, don’t forget that your 3-day weekend is quite a bit more than the unofficial start of summer. Take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of the many men and women who have died while serving. Honor their families. Appreciate that you live in a country which doesn’t require mandatory service. Then fish a cold drink out of that ice-filled bucket in the back yard, crack it open, and tip your head in a silent toast.

Say “thank you.”

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Filed under citizens, for doing the right thing., holidays

working for free

I didn’t write this. I found it online while searching for tips for writing an effective design proposal. I did what research I could to find the original author, but met a dead end with an anonymous losangeles.craigslist post that dates back to January of 2007. It’s pure gold. If you ever hope to hire a web designer, graphic designer, seamstress, pinstriper, writer, photographer, illustrator… anyone working in a creative field, or if you work in any creative field yourself, you need to read this.

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Every day, there are more and more posts on here seeking “artists” for everything from auto graphics to comic books to corporate logo designs. More people are finding themselves in need of some form of illustrative service.

But what they’re NOT doing, unfortunately, is realizing how rare someone with these particular talents can be.

To those who are “seeking artists”, let me ask you; How many people do you know, personally, with the talent and skill to perform the services you need? A dozen? Five? One? …none?

More than likely, you don’t know any. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be posting on here to find them.

And this is not really a surprise.

In this country, there are almost twice as many neurosurgeons as there are professional illustrators. There are eleven times as many certified mechanics. There are SEVENTY times as many people in the IT field.

So, given that they are less rare, and therefore less in demand, would it make sense to ask your mechanic to work on your car for free? Would you look him in the eye, with a straight face, and tell him that his compensation would be the ability to have his work shown to others as you drive down the street?

Would you offer a neurosurgeon the “opportunity” to add your name to his resume as payment for removing that pesky tumor? (Maybe you could offer him “a few bucks” for “materials”. What a deal!)

Would you be able to seriously even CONSIDER offering your web hosting service the chance to have people see their work, by viewing your website, as their payment for hosting you?

If you answered “yes” to ANY of the above, you’re obviously insane. If you answered “no”, then kudos to you for living in the real world.

But then tell me… why would you think it is okay to live out the same, delusional, ridiculous fantasy when seeking someone whose abilities are even less in supply than these folks?

Graphic artists, illustrators, painters, etc., are skilled tradesmen. As such, to consider them as, or deal with them as, anything less than professionals fully deserving of your respect is both insulting and a bad reflection on you as a sane, reasonable person. In short, it makes you look like a twit.

A few things you need to know;

1. It is not a “great opportunity” for an artist to have his work seen on your car/’zine/website/bedroom wall, etc. It IS a “great opportunity” for YOU to have their work there.

2. It is not clever to seek a “student” or “beginner” in an attempt to get work for free. It’s ignorant and insulting. They may be “students”, but that does not mean they don’t deserve to be paid for their hard work. You were a “student” once, too. Would you have taken that job at McDonalds with no pay, because you were learning essential job skills for the real world? Yes, your proposition it JUST as stupid.

3. The chance to have their name on something that is going to be seen by other people, whether it’s one or one million, is NOT a valid enticement. Neither is the right to add that work to their “portfolio”. They get to do those things ANYWAY, after being paid as they should. It’s not compensation. It’s their right, and it’s a given.

4. Stop thinking that you’re giving them some great chance to work. Once they skip over your silly ad, as they should, the next ad is usually for someone who lives in the real world, and as such, will pay them. There are far more jobs needing these skills than there are people who possess these skills.

5. Students DO need “experience”. But they do NOT need to get it by giving their work away. In fact, this does not even offer them the experience they need. Anyone who will not/can not pay them is obviously the type of person or business they should be ashamed to have on their resume anyway. Do you think professional contractors list the “experience” they got while nailing down a loose step at their grandmother’s house when they were seventeen?

If you, your company or gig was worth listing as desired experience, it would be able to pay for the services it received. The only experience they will get doing free work for you is a lesson learned in what kinds of scrubs they should not lower themselves to deal with.

6. (This one is FOR the artists out there, please pay attention.) Some will ask you to “submit work for consideration”. They may even be posing as some sort of “contest”. These are almost always scams. They will take the work submitted by many artists seeking to win the “contest”, or be “chosen” for the gig, and find what they like most. They will then usually have someone who works for them, or someone who works incredibly cheap because they have no originality or talent of their own, reproduce that same work, or even just make slight modifications to it, and claim it as their own. You will NOT be paid, you will NOT win the contest. The only people who win, here, are the underhanded folks who run these ads. This is speculative, or “spec”, work. It’s risky at best, and a complete scam at worst. I urge you to avoid it, completely.

So to artists/designers/illustrators looking for work, do everyone a favor, ESPECIALLY yourselves, and avoid people who do not intend to pay you. Whether they are “spec” gigs, or just some guy who wants a free mural on his living room walls. They need you. You do NOT need them. Say NO to free art.

And for those who are looking for someone to do work for free… please wake up and join the real world. The only thing you’re accomplishing is to insult those with the skills you need. Get a clue.

If you agree with the above important information, please pass it along. The more people know, the faster we can correct this.

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Filed under for doing the right thing., Thank you, the office