Category Archives: the office

It couldn’t be a lily or a taffy-daffodilly…

…It’s got to be a rose ’cause it rhymes with Mose.*

logo-collage

Holy smokes, it’s already been a week since my last post? And I promised you then that I would try to clear up some confusion over my assortment of online names. Taking a chronological trip in Ye Olde WABAC Machine… ::insert wooblie soundtrack and WavyVisionâ„¢::

Once Upon A Time, circa 1998 or ’99, I unofficially name my freelance company Ampersand Ranch. Technically, the full name is Ampersand Ranch Graphic Design and Prairie Dog Refuge. Which is a teensy bit funnier if you, like me, are living in Boulder, Colorado during the Great Prairie Dog War of the late ’90s.

It isn’t until 2006 that I officially register Tiddleywink (consciously misspelled to avoid run-ins with duplicate names, HA-HA) with the State of Colorado, to encompass both my freelance work and my first Etsy store.

Thanks to the gentle shoving encouragement of my techgeek friend Dave, I join Twitter in early 2007 (pre-SXSW). This is back when all Twitter users combined post an average of 20k tweets a day. So you see, I can have just about any username I want. And, since Twitter is purely social, I go with my now-purely-social name: AmpersandRanch. The frequent mistyping by a Twitterfriend of my username leads the change to Ampersandwich shortly after (obviously, before a Reply To shortcut becomes a feature) so Bryan should get all of the credit for that bit of portmanteau genius.

By 2009, Twitter is more business-friendly. I decide it would be a good time to switch my username to Tiddleywink to encourage my clients and customers to find me socially as well. Except that, however unlikely, someone has by this time registered my misspelled name! The account is inactive: no tweets, no followers, and following only 1 account. I send a message to the account holder, asking if she’d mind letting me have the name. I don’t hear back. I put in a request with Twitter to get the name switched over to me—they’re still small enough then that they will do this if you can prove cause—but I’m informed that there is a backlog for the service. Before my position in the queue (ticket #600496) comes up, Twitter has stopped assisting with inactive-account-name-takeovers.

Instagram comes along in 2010. It and Twitter are very good friends, sharing user lists and all, and having a common username between the two is logical. Tiddleywink is still being squatted upon at Twitter, so I open my IG account as Ampersandwich. I briefly change it to Tiddleywink but, fearing confusion between followers, I change it back.

Present Day: Instagram and Twitter are no longer friends. I rarely post to Twitter anymore, and while I have half as many followers on IG, the IG community is much more interactive. I decide it’s safe to change my IG username to Tiddleywink…only to discover it’s been taken. The account is private and the user photo appears to be a blurry, 1979ish snapshot of Prince Charles in a trenchcoat, but at least the account has posted some photos so I don’t feel as though my “rights” are being squandered.

As for ShoesAndPie and Winkorama…well, this post is already too long. See you next week! Maybe with a post about pie!

*If you don’t already have this song stuck in your head, you can watch the movie clip (a loose a-rose-by-any-other-name reference) here.

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Society Page

While researching the designer label on an evening gown I picked up this weekend for Tiddleywink Vintage, I came across the “society” page of The Pittsburgh Press, November 15, 1947. I hope you like these snippets. Click ’em to see ’em larger.

Dolores (Carr) Rothrauff, 1947

Bunnye (Wedner) Kramer, 1947

Dorothy (Parrish) Briney, 1947

Social Situations, 1947

Juke Box Wail, 1947

Long Skirts, 1947

Other News:

A day in Leadville, CO

  • The fella and I, along with his younger sister and their parents, went up to Leadville (Colo.) for a day trip over the weekend for the parents’ 40th anniversary. The dad lived in Leadville until 1958, so it was a trip jam-packed with anecdotes and information that really made for an interesting day. We saw the hospital where dad was born (now condos) as well as the tar-paper house where his mother was born in 1906. We went past the rectory where her father first stopped—ready to receive his last rites—when he arrived in Leadville, because he was sure that his arid-climate nosebleed was in fact a sign of the high-altitude-induced brain hemorrhage that would soon cause his death. :) An antiques shop in Leadville is where I found the aforementioned gown, but seeing as it’s not exactly a fancy-dress town, I’m not sure if it ever saw a dance floor locally. Perhaps it caught a performance or two at the Tabor Opera House before being packed away for many years.
  • Also acquired: my first piece (no, really!) of Fire-King Jadite ovenware! I’ve long been on the hunt for a single, affordable, useful piece. Yes, I could use a mug, but I have this whole matchy-matchy thing going and I likely wouldn’t. I once found a solo fridgie dish-and-lid for a reasonable price, but it was chipped. Then lo, what do I spy in the corner of the antiques store but what appears to be a smallishy loaf baker which is not only marked a reasonable $22 but also conveniently on sale for 20% off! Once I got it home I learned that it’s actually a fridgie dish but with the less common (?) “Colonial” style rim, and it should have a clear lid. This set came with the same clear, handle-less lids used on the Gay Fad painted series. Those seem more easily found online, so I may buy myself a Gay Fad set just to steal the lid. ANYway…pale green bliss!
  • The cherry-pie-that-didn’t-turn-out, I have decided, will make a delicious addition to a batch of homemade ice cream. Mmmm, ice cream!
  • The wardrobe dep’t. for “Vegas” placed another order! Woo!
  • Um, probably other stuff! Zippity doo-dah!

Very happy to be working this week on a project for Cooper House, who are not only pretty darn fab designers (and coders), but also wonderful friends. However, between that and a client meeting I have on Wednesday and a high-maintenance-pet-sitting gig I have going all this week: go away. I’m busy. I’ll be blogging (I hope!) but you have a reprieve from the baking/canning/cooking posts this week. Ta for now!

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Filed under amusement, collections, day job, design, family, fashion, friends, nostalgia, shopping, the office, vintage

Lettuce Was Ahead, Tomato Had To Catch Up

Ah, the busy-ness. The lack of posts last week was due to my being called in to work on-site at a client’s office. Which I enjoy, especially for that particular client, but it does take a bite out of my post-writing time. I’m playing catch-up this week, so the posts will likely be brief while I try to get back into the swing of shooting/measuring/counting/posting items in the shops.

Catch-up? Get it? Whether you spell it catsup or ketchup, here’s a recipe for you all to get ahead on, as I plan to bake up a batch later this week. It comes from a 1938 copy of The Household Searchlight Recipe Book. If you follow me on Instagram (@ampersandwich), you’ve already had a peek at this one.

Raisin Catsup Cookies
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
31/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs catsup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup raisins, chopped
1 egg

Cream shortening and sugar. Add catsup and unbeaten egg. Beat thoroughly. Add raisins. Sift flour, measure, and sift with baking soda and salt. Add to first mixture. Mix thoroughly. Turn onto lightly floured board. Knead thoroughly. Form into roll 2 inches in diameter. Chill overnight. Cut in thin slices. Place on well-oiled baking sheet. Bake in hot oven (410°F) about 10 minutes. 24 servings.

Hmmm, I think I’ll perhaps post recipes all week. I have a fruit-flavored marshmallow recipe in one of my Jello-O cookbooks (go figure) that I’d like to try. Maybe I’ll do that this afternoon. Instead of the 20 other things I should be doing. :)

 

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Conundrum

The dry-erase markers I use to make my whiteboard To-Do lists have dried out. I’d put “Buy new dry-erase markers” on the list, but…

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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.

_________________________

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

for hire

When I was first laid off at the end of last summer, I was immediately hired as a contractor by my ex-employer. I was back in the office the same week that I had been escorted out. Soon, another catalog came up, and I was hired for that one, too. As well as some other projects that fell within my scope of abilities. At the same time, I was working on smaller projects for other clients. Busy enough to keep out of trouble, and enough money coming in to cover my bills and set aside a chunk for taxes.

In January, things started to slow down. I was able to devote more time to actually selling the vintage goodies that I’ve been collecting, and while I’ll never get rich that way, it’s “pin money” and I enjoy seeing good pieces go to good homes.

But that has slowed down as well.

I’m not good at networking. I’m painfully shy, and rarely talk to people outside of my small circle of friends. Heck, I don’t even call my friends. I’m much more comfortable online, and can fake a general sense of confidence, but when it comes to digging for work, I suck. I use “social media” (even the jargon makes me gag) for socializing. Not for marketing.

“But you’re a designer,” people say. “There’s plenty of work out there, don’t you do Web design?” To which my explanation is this: A dentist and a veterinarian are both doctors, but you wouldn’t want the one filling in for the other. The similarities between designing for print and designing for Web end at “looks good.” All of the background stuff, the stuff that the client never sees, is completely different. It’s like making a traditional cupcake versus a vegan, gluten-free cupcake. In the end, they’re both cupcakes. But the ingredients are totally different. A few people are truly skilled at both, but not as many as they would have you think. I’ve seen many good Web designers do poor print work because they don’t know to take into consideration the line screen, the dot gain, the gripper area, the inaccuracy of a guillotine cutter. In the end, those behind-the-scenes details will affect the look of the finished piece. One of my more recent gigs was to fix the print files that had been provided by the client’s usually-Web designer, because the printer had kicked them back. All of the margins had to be adjusted, and therefore pages of copy had to be reflowed, because the designer didn’t know about the required safety zone. During my days in prepress, I spent much of my time rebuilding “spot color” files that had been designed in whole or part in CMYK or worse, RGB. Your client wants to know why the printing bill is so high? Go ahead and tell them that we spent 4 hours, at $60 per (that was ’95), editing the files you gave us so that we could actually RIP them. Or quietly eat your markup without saying a word about it, which is what you’re going to do to save face.

Conversely, my portfolio site is built in iWeb, which means that, in addition to not being very creative, it has funny little CSS-related (I think) bugs that I recognize but don’t know how to fix. Also, it looks neat in Safari but loses all drop shadows in any other browser. Again, I don’t know how to fix that. I know what SEO is, but not how to “maximize potential” or integrate it into my site. I’m not even sure how to add GoogleAnalytics to my site. I think I could do it, but I’m pretty sure it would mean not being able to edit it in iWeb any longer and the code for my site is probably too robust for me to tackle in my little HTML editor. I can’t control my fonts? My lines will rebreak? Color will shift? I cannot begin to tell you everything that I don’t know about Web design. Bottom line: I’m a print designer, not a programmer.

So what I’m saying is this: I’m available. My design work is adequate, and my production skills are second to none. If it’s for print, I know what I’m doing. I am not good at conference calls, at meet-ups, at glad-handing or schmoozing. I am good at sitting at my desk (or yours, if you prefer me to be on site) and cranking out work. Hire me. You can find my poorly-self-built Web site at tiddleywink.com.

I think I’ll bake a batch of cupcakes today.

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Mrs. Blandings

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is not my favorite movie. It’s not included in my admittedly small personal library. But there is one scene which, due in no small part to the nature of my “day job,” is very near and dear to my heart.

Jim Blandings, feeling the constraits of a small, New York City apartment on his growing young family, decides to move them all to a more spacious spread in rural Connecticut. Jim’s wife, Muriel, is in charge of the decorating.

In my favorite scene, Muriel Blandings is discussing with the painter her color choices for the walls, as workers scurry about in the background. This is the dialog between Mrs. Blandings, the painting contractor, Mr. PeDelford, and his painter, Charlie:

Mrs. Blandings – Now, Mr. PeDelford, we’ll discuss painting.

Mr. PeDelford – Okay.

Mrs. Blandings – I had some samples. Here we are. Now, first, the living room. I want it to be a soft green. Not as blue-green as a robin’s egg.

Mr. PeDelford – No.

Mrs. Blandings – But not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow. But don’t let whoever does it get it too blue.

Mr. PeDelford – No.

Mrs. Blandings – It should be a sort of grayish yellow-green. Now the dining room, I’d like yellow. Not just yellow. A very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshiny. I tell you, if you’ll send one of your workmen to the grocer for a pound of their best butter and match that exactly, you can’t go wrong.

This is the paper we’ll use in the hall. It’s flowered. But I don’t want the ceiling to match any colors of the flowers. There are some little dots in the background, and it’s these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom. Is that clear? Now, the kitchen’s to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic, hospital white.

Mr. PeDelford – No.

Mrs. Blandings – A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now, for the powder room in here, I want you to match this thread. And don’t lose it. It’s the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it. As you can see, it’s practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy Winesap and an unripened Jonathan. Oh, excuse me. (leaves to speak to another contractor)

Mr. PeDelford – You got that, Charlie?

Charlie – Red, green, blue, yellow, white.

On every one of the press checks I go to, it’s my job to KNOW color. I have been playing with Color-Aid swatches and Pantone books since I was a toddler. So, when I order a RED dress from eBay and it shows up RUBY, don’t think I won’t say something. When my beautiful, Stealth Gray Pearl car is repainted some custom mix that a lazy painter thought would be close enough… it isn’t. When my Persimmon and Periwinkle tattoo comes out Persimmon and Blue, I’m going to bitch about it. The differences might be subtle to most people, but to me, it’s like night and day. This isn’t to say that I’m GOOD at color. If I don’t have my swatch in front of me, it can be a nightmare for me to match it. Some folks have a real knack for putting a color to memory, but I’m the sort who is STILL trying to find “the right pink” to match a dress I bought a year ago. And while, in many cases, “close enough” is, it isn’t where that dress is concerned. In this case, I’m trying to learn a lesson oft repeated to me by my friend Mary Jo: “It doesn’t have to match, it just has to go.” (Meanwhile, people stop me on the street when I’m “daring” enough to wear yellow shoes with an all black-and-white outfit.)

So, what goes with this lovely new vintage number that I brought home, again at half-price, from the thrift store yesterday? It’s what I’d call a Sky Blue; not as green as a Robin’s Egg…

As usual, more info if you follow the link.

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Filed under collections, fashion, jewelry, shoes, shopping, tattoo, the office, vintage