Category Archives: 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

Nothing up my sleeve

Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!

Today is Wednesday, and my third day without work OR with any contracts lined up. This is also the first week that I haven’t filled all of my non-working time with portfolio updates, resumé updates, and business card design (Hey, where are my business cards? Shouldn’t they have arrived by now?). So I am allowing myself this week “off” to get some other things done.

I qualified for private health insurance! And, on the same day that I got a letter from my current provider updating me about something or other, I also received a letter from my future provider informing me that they couldn’t verify that I currently had insurance. (Rolls eyes, sighs, thinks of Ekwoman and her disdain for the fax machine I must now locate in order to send Future Insurer documentation from Current Insurer).

I technically qualify for unemployment, but the paperwork is so obtuse (and yes, I applied online, so I can only imagine what the volume of forms and letters would be if I hadn’t) that this college-educated, high-IQ gal cannot make heads or tails of it, and I have yet to actually get any money. Two other layoffees I have spoken with are also having difficulty with the system. Dear Colorado: Fix this. Seriously. I don’t expect you to make it EASY for us, but this is ridiculous. I have, on more than one occasion, recieved multiple letters from the same office. The postage alone is staggering, let alone the admin hours you are (and this is State run, so I am) paying. A friend joked that he suspects he gets a letter each time his file is moved from one desk to another. I need to call and speak to someone personally, but I have been warned about multi-hour hold times, and I’m not looking forward to it.

On the less cranky side: An online shop has contacted me about selling my dice bracelets. Woo! I want those bracelets to be exclusive to that store, so I am currently (anxiously!) awaiting a new shipment of dice so that I may begin to, if you’ll pardon the expression, Drill, Baby, Drill. The sooner I get those done, they sooner they can go online, and the sooner I can start raking in the miniscule profit that I make on each one. I dare not figure out the time I spend to make each one, lest I realize that I’m paying myself $4.00 an hour. Annnnnnddddd, I’m going to pick up some more earring hooks today, and get back to having a category for earrings in my online shop. Possibly related: If anyone has a small light box they no longer need, or knows where I can get a well-priced unit, please contact me. Thanks!

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Filed under jewelry, the office

catching up

It’s been brought to my attention that I haven’t been writing on my regular schedule. My apologies, and thanks for noticing! Here’s a quick rundown:

My cracked tooth was successfully pulled, and did indeed leave a tunnel into my sinus cavity. The surgeon did whatever it was he had to do to fix that (I was sedated and I’m fuzzy on what he explained), and I have spent the last days spending quality time with ice packs, Vicodin, ibuprofen, salt water, and squishy food. I have a follow-up appointment on Tuesday to make sure everything is healing properly, in spite of my sneezing a few days before I was “allowed” to.

I’m back under contract with my ex-employer for another week. Which is great, because I have yet to collect an unemployment check! Colorado makes it hard to actually get that first payout. I have received the paperwork warning me that I have to call and request each payment, and if I call too late, I’ll miss it, but if I call too early, my entire app will be tossed and I’ll have to start over. However, there is no paperwork telling me when it is that I’m supposed to call! Yikes!

I made good progress on Costume One yesterday, and am now done with the sewing portion. I still need to practice hair/makeup, and figure out footwear (the shoes donated by Alison just aren’t what I had in mind), but it’s SO CLOSE. Costume Two got a late start, however, and next weekend will be a flurry of catch-up activity.

Now, back to work!

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Filed under blogging, Halloween, sewing, the office

How I Spent My Holiday Weekend

By Tiddleywink

If I were still in school, in my old school district, the first day of classes would be Wednesday. I’d have a new notebook (I prefer the blue, cloth-bound binders to the noisy-Velcro® Trapper Keepers), some new BIROs (black, medium point; they’re now know as Round Stic by Bic), a fresh haircut, and a new outfit or two.

But I’m not in school any more.

I did get a new pair of knee socks from Target, and had my bangs trimmed at Floyd‘s. I also bought two more vintage hats, and a vintage winter coat from the thrift store. I splurged on six completely unnecessary votive candles in one of my favorite scents (Pier 1’s “oceans”) at 50% off. I swept the patio, I pulled weeds, I turned the compost pile, I emptied the rusty water out of the definitely-not-made-of-copper firepit. I looked, yet again, for red dice.

I intended to build the final page of my online portfolio, and make more hair flowers to sell for a little extra cash, but instead spent the time alloted for both tasks repairing existing Web pages on my site which ALL had tiny glitches. Strange characters, missing type, randomly resized images. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: good Web pages are created by good programmers. I am not a good programmer. There are folks out there who can code HTML, who are as comfortable in Dreamweaver and GoLive as I am in InDesign or QuarkXPress. I can come up with a half-baked idea, but I should leave it to someone else to make it work. A good programmer costs a lot more than a thrift-store coat, though, so I muddle through. And, now that the other pages are all straightened out, I’ll be able to focus on that One Last Page before I make the site public. And impress people with my mad skillz, thus encouraging folks to hire me for their freelance needs, so I can trade ‘Working For The Man’ for ‘Buying My Own Health Insurance.’

And you know what? It’s almost Halloween! To be continued…

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Filed under gardening, nostalgia, the office, vintage