Archive | September, 2011

Wrapping Up September

30 Sep

I’m not going to lie, I am especially excited for this weekend. I don’t have anything too special planned, but after an amazing, restful, and FUN mini break yesterday, I’m ready to recreate the magic this weekend.

I was so happy - I didn't think I'd make it to the beach again this season.

The last couple of weeks have been tough for me in a way. While I think a huge part of that was that I was in the throes of a pre-cold, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I was insanely busy, and I’ve completely lost sight of some of my goals.  As amazing as it is to be able to work from home and determine my own schedule, I must manage my schedule better. I hate feeling like I’m working 99% of the time – but only getting 20% of my to-do list done. I want to productive and efficient when I’m working – and be able to enjoy my free time guilt free.

I have also been dealing with some of the not so fun aspects of freelancing – walking the fine line between making my clients happy but also earning their respect and trust in design decisions, and dealing with clients who seemed happy with my work – but who are dragging their feet on completing a payment. (By the way, I could fill a book with how annoying that last situation is.)

But tomorrow is a new month, and I’m starting fresh!

There have also been some great things going on!  Not least of which is the fact that my Awesome Card has been receiving some blog love.

I am not entirely sure why this one card has been getting so much more attention than anything else I’ve made, but I will say it is quite delightful to open up a blog I read on the regular and see my work!

Leah at Nice Things Now (which has such a lovely outlook on life) included it in a post about an awesome (ha!) phone service, and Nicole from Making It Lovely included it in her Honor Roll, as part of a post on her Family Style Blog.

I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing weekend!

Why I love freelancing…

29 Sep

Because when I get a last minute offer to spend the day at the beach, I can go.

 

Let’s Talk About Pricing

28 Sep

The most difficult part of freelancing so far has been determining how to price my work. The reason it is so difficult is because not only is it entirely up to me to decide what my price should be, but there is also very little concrete information out there about industry standards. Every designer prices differently based on experience, and very few are willing to tell you what that price is.  This is not a topic that was covered in school, and in general it is just shrouded in mystery.

My strategy so far has been to price myself very reasonably, until I gain more experience/clients. I went to a talk given by David Baker once, and he said something that really resonated with me. This is not a customer service industry, it’s an expertise industry. Of COURSE I want my clients to be delighted with the work I do for them. However, I want my clients to hire me for my ideas and perspective, not for my ability to use a designer’s tools. I want my pricing to reflect that.

That being said, I think a lot of people have no idea how much designers charge. Since it’s not something that can be easily calculated (the price totally depends on the nature of the project) there’s not a lot to compare. Many people think that design is the least important part of a project – and it reflects in their budget – but a good design can make the difference between looking like a trustworthy operation and having customers dismiss you because it looks like your kid made your logo.

In my  experience, it is very hard not to be insulted when a potential client tries to bargain my price down, or drops off the face of the earth once we start talking numbers. It’s also hard not to second-guess my numbers, or under price myself when I really want a project. But that’s not fair to me, or to the many other designers out there trying to make a living. To quote from a Design Sponge Biz Ladies post, ” underpricing devalues creative work and makes it harder for creative professionals to make a living.”

Now!

I have found some great posts online that take a little bit of the mystery away from pricing. I encourage you to read them all, especially if you aren’t a creative professional.

Biz Ladies: How To Price Your Work

This is the same post that I linked to a couple paragraphs above, but it’s an extremely comprehensive guide to several different pricing approaches. It shares the thought process behind creative professional pricing, although it is geared more towards people selling handmade products.

Estimating and Billing

This article is less specific about actual pricing, but talks more about the factors that go into freelance price calculation.

The Dark Art of Pricing

This is the best article on pricing that I’ve seen on the internet so far. Jessica Hische walks you through her views on pricing, and actually throws in some real numbers. She also discusses things that you might not think about immediately, like licensing and rights management. If you only read one of these articles, it should be this one.

How Much Does A Website Cost? & Other Pricing Questions

This article shows real designers’ price ranges in terms of concrete numbers. It’s a small survey, but the numbers are not surprising to me.

Are there any articles I’m missing? The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook Pricing & Ethical Guidelines has been another invaluable resource as I try to navigate the tricky waters of freelance pricing. I would recommend it to any graphic designer who has pricing questions.

Hallo-WHEN?

27 Sep

Halloween is just around the corner! If just around the corner means a month from now. I have been more excited about Halloween and autumn in general this year than I have been in quite some time. I think it can be partially attributed to the fact that for the first time in two years this changing season is not a brutal reminder that time is marching onward and I am still nowhere close to achieving my goals. I always expect a lot of change and growth over the summer – mostly because I always had big plans for my summer break – but this year there actually was change and growth, and I’m happy with how things are turning out.

As I mentioned earlier, one of my goals moving forward is to do all the things I talk about wanting to do. Autumn is a prime time to make good on that goal. So many exciting things happen in the fall – it suddenly gets really beautiful outside, the fair comes through town, it’s my birthday, there are fun activities to do like visiting pumpkin patches, apple picking, and corn mazes ( I SO want to do a corn maze), Halloween parties, and Thanksgiving.

Keeping that in mind, I realized I was crazy when I thought about not making any Halloween cards for my shop. What was I thinking? I’m talking about seizing the moment and doing all the things I talk about doing, and at the first sign of work I just give up? Who am I, anyway? So I decided to give it a shot, and I’m so glad that I did. I’ve been feeling a little (okay, a lot) stressed and crazed lately, and this was a lovely moment of peace during a time that’s had more than its fair share of self doubt and anxiety. I felt joyful when I was making these, and it reminded me why I got into this profession in the first place. It’s for the pure, unadulterated happiness I feel when I’m creating something. So often I lose sight of that, and sometimes it takes something silly like making Halloween cards on a Saturday night to bring it back.

Not only am I pleased with how they turned out, but I’m also delighted with my product photography. I have talked before about how my dad takes photos for me, and I think we are getting better every time. These are definitely the best photos I have yet. They are exactly what I was envisioning, in that they are clear, they feel seasonal, and the background is interesting but doesn’t take away from the product. Thanks Dad!

 

 

 

 

You can visit Love Citron here. I have a couple more designs that I will be releasing over the next couple of days, so be sure to check back!

 

 

CRAP

26 Sep

It’s not even 12 on Monday, and I can already tell that this week is going to be wild. And not in a fun, let’s get wild kind of way, but more like you-will-never-have-more-than-five-uninterrupted-minutes kind of way.

 

So let’s talk about the weekend instead!

 

I had a really nice weekend. It started early, when David and his friend came over directly from work. I didn’t realize they were coming, so I was dressed to impress in a threadbare, see through shirt with squash stains on it, and greasy unkempt hair. I don’t transition easily, so I was a little dazed and inarticulate from not talking to anyone all day for about 20 minutes, but I rallied.

The next day I went bridesmaid dress shopping with a (bride) friend. I got to try on a bunch of pretty dresses, and I realized that I totally need a gown in my life. I used to think that big poofy gowns were not for me, but surprise! They totally are. I am hoping that we get to buy our dresses soon, even though the wedding is not for another year, so I can wear it around the house.

 

The best part of my weekend though, was when I stopped by my parent’s house. My mom and I were talking about how David and I have a seating deficit, and my plans to buy some things like a church pew and an upholstered chair at some point. One thing led to another… and I was driving home with a car full of stuff that I snagged from her attic.

 

Hooray for impromptu redecorating!

I realized I haven’t ever posted photos of what my living room looks like, so it’s not going to be a very dramatic transformation for you.. I found a couple of photos that give a pretty good idea of what it used to look like. It is not my fault that most of them involve my dog. In fact, you should just consider that ‘luck’.

 

So these are all from varying times in the past year, and I move stuff around a lot. Basically, everything was pretty okay, but I was starting to feel like things were a little bare, and you couldn’t tell the personality of the people who live here. Part of that is because I still (STILL) don’t have any personal photos printed, despite the plethora of empty frames just waiting for a photo to fill them, but another part was because we didn’t have much stuff. I hate it when things constantly look cluttered, but the down side to that is that every surface was hard and bare. Also, sorry these pictures are kind of grainy. I am always taking pictures with my phone, but I should probably start using a real camera..

 

So I had those sketches from college, when I bought them at the flea market to decorate my first dorm room. I got made fun of a lot for having ‘naked’ pictures in my room, but those children didn’t understand that they are art. Hopefully nobody will make fun of me now that I’m an adult. The bench was sitting under my mom’s porch, rotting, so she said I could borrow it. I sanded it down so nobody would get a splinter from sitting on it, and at some point I want to put some pillows and maybe a cushion on it. I wonder if Caspian will be upset if I put his dog bed on it? Probably. The poster belongs to my brother, but he said I could use it. I want to keep adding warm neutral things to the gallery wall, so eventually the entire wall will be covered in warm neutral art, all the way to the floor. Also, if you look in the bottom left corner, you can see one of two $8 bar stools that I got from Craigslist. Score!

The rocking chair is the same chair my mom used to rock me to sleep in! (aww…) She also had that little galvanized metal side table, which replaced the trunk in the photo below. I have to do something about the cord situation, but I like the way this corner has turned out. It’s like a tiny library. I LOVE that fan. We don’t use it very often, but I think it looks so cool and retro.

The corner next to the piano used to have nothing in it, and it looked sort of weird and empty. When I get around to plugging that lamp in, it will add some nice light to this room. The globe is another childhood thing. It looks fancy, but actually it’s made of cardboard and held together in some spots with tape. I love it, because I love globes.

This is some art that used to be above the couch, but is now above the tv. I’ve been moving these pieces around constantly, but I think I’ve finally found a permanent home for them. That spot is hard to fill, since the tv and the lamp make it awkward, but I love the bright colors, and how they add lightness to all the dark wood and black and chrome.

 

The most important part of all of this is that now people can come over and not have to sit on the floor! Movie night is going to be so much cooler now that Caspian won’t be able to paw anyone in the face.

 

He doesn’t think it will be cooler. Wamp waaamp.

Happy Birthday Dad!

23 Sep

This is my father eating a hot dog. This is the first hot dog I have seen him eat in my lifetime.

This week it was my dad’s birthday. We celebrated by taking a 3 hour walk and then making him take us out to dinner.

Actually, it was really fun to spend the day with him, and I made him a fudge ice cream cake that was a pretty big hit, even though it sort of melted to one side, so all in all it was a success.

This was Dad's birthday last year, when he was still eating gluten, and didn't need a frozen cake. Please note Caspian's little nose pokin up into the frame. He and Dad have a very special connection, aka Dad loves him a lot and tries to overfeed him.

 

One of the things that I love the most about my dad is that when he really loves something, he is blind to its faults. For example, he is a big fan of Caspian. When Caspian went to my parents house the other day, and started gnawing on a wooden table leg, I was horrified, because that is weird dog behavior. My dad, however, responded by giving him lots of hugs, and asking how I could yell at that fuzzy face. He’s a big fan of Star Wars, and even though a lot of people think that the first three movies were corny (especially the love scenes… just sayin.) he thinks they’re great. He is the biggest fan of Apple who ever lived, and there is not a person in the world who could convince him that Apple is not the best computer on the face of the planet. This extends to people, too. He once told me that if you were truly friends with someone, you could never say anything bad about them behind their back, and you would stand up for them no matter what the situation, and they would do the same for you.

 

Speaking of things he told me when I was younger, he has a lot of sayings. He told me that trust was like a cookie, and once it was gone you could never rebake it, that every day and in every way, you use your brain, and my personal favorite: When there’s food in our mouth, we do not speak. (This one was developed for my younger brother, who talks incessantly, regardless of whether or not he’s eating.)

This was a sweet vineyard we went to in California. We got to go to the upstairs bar for special people, and the wine bartenders gave us like 6 cups of wine and Mom had to drive us home.

 

Dad is also very positive. David’s sister told me once that she really liked my dad because he was always smiling. It’s true. He’s also really funny. Growing up, we were always laughing. He’s a great sport, now that Daniel and I are older, and like to make fun of our parents. We’re always teasing him, or remembering funny things from our childhood that weren’t so funny at the time (like once when I was 13, I went to the mall and bought some french fries, and my health conscious parents found the receipt, and sat me down and had this LONG discussion with me about why I made that decision, and didn’t I know that french fries were so bad for me, and why did I hide it from them? Guys, that was literally the worst thing I did as a teenager. I sometimes bought junk food and ate it in secret. I think you should count yourselves lucky.) He always laughs along, and can tease with the best of them.

 

I love this picture. I have no idea what's going on, but I think it's great.

He’s also very musical. Sometimes it’s a little embarrassing when he bursts into song in, say, a restaurant or a crowded mall, but I love his appreciation for music, and I’m glad he passed it down to me. Did you know he was in a band? He was. They were called the Corporation, and their uniforms were collared shirts. I wish there was a picture, because I know it was awesome.

Happy Birthday Dad!

I Updated My Website Again

22 Sep

This is what I was going to talk about earlier this week, but then I actually had other things going on to write about, so it got bumped. The more you know.

(Speaking of NBC, can I just take a moment to publicly announce how excited I am that my stories are coming back on the air? Last night was Modern Family and then we watched Tuesday’s new episode of Glee, and I was just so excited. Tonight is only ALL OF MY FAVORITE SHOWS, except for 30 Rock, and I just found out that there are 5 more episodes of Psych on Hulu that I haven’t seen. I read books, too, but it’s not as fun to talk about.)

My website is something that I am constantly tinkering with, mostly because by the time I finish one design, I’m on to the next one. By the time my last website design was actually live, I sort of hated it, and I was just too discouraged to redo it for a while. I’m much more pleased with how this one turned out, and – bonus! – it is now an accurate representation of my body of work/abilities. I still have a lot of work to put up, and I’m already thinking of some design tweaks, but for the most part, I’m super happy with how it turned out.

I drew this type by hand. I have been interested in getting into hand lettering for a while, as evidenced by my sudden passion for calligraphy, so this was really rewarding (and frustrating!) to do. Spoiler alert – you will see it again when my blog redesign finally happens.

My new website is fairly simple, and mainly focuses on my work. I wanted it to be easy to navigate, and get a quick overview of what I do. Again, I still have some updates I need to make (like being able to add explanations to my projects..) but you should check it out, because I have a ton of new projects up.

Of course, David is the amazing one because he coded all of this. I have to say, it is really, REALLY convenient having a boyfriend who is a genius at computers. He somehow takes my vague explanations and laughably poor attempts at ‘getting the code started’ for him and makes exactly what I want. He’s the best!

What Am I Working For?

21 Sep

I was reading Kathleen’s blog post today about what she wants out of her life, and I was reading my friend Liz’s blog about motivation, and how it’s hard for her to get motivated now that she doesn’t have as much structure in her life, and I realized that this is a topic that’s sort of been knocking around in my head for the past couple of months (uhh… now that I think about it, it’s been more like a year).

 

I consider myself a really driven person, but at the same time, I am not so motivated. By this, I mean that if I have a good idea/plan/thought, I will not rest until it’s completed. I’ll work on a project for hours, and it will feel like minutes. I’ll make six trips to 3 different Targets to get twinkle lights, and spend hours poking them through holes I’ve drilled in canvas. I’ll stay up all night making cards for someone, then rip off the photos and remake them because they were wrinkled. I’ll move my piano from one room to the other, from wall to wall, and I can’t let it go until I’ve found the right location for it.

I love being in this state. It might not seem fun to an outsider, and I’m sure David could do without any more impromptu midnight furniture moving sessions, but it’s my favorite way to be.

On the flip side, when I am not in the middle of a project, or I haven’t started looking for an idea, it almost impossible to get started. For example, by writing this blog post, I am procrastinating on getting started on a project. I sit down to that blank page, and suddenly I need to clean my bathroom, wash my dog, pick my split ends, really anything. I can spend weeks in this state, feeling uninspired and unmotivated. It really sucks.

I realized (because it was pointed out to me by other bloggers, whose blogs I was reading when I was, that’s right, procrastinating) that it’s easy to feel unmotivated when I don’t feel like I’m working toward anything, both in my personal and professional life. Like Kathleen, I need to move forward, but most importantly, I need to know what I’m moving toward.

I want:

+ To feel safe and content enough to want to push my own boundaries/fears.

+ To let the good parts of my work enrich my whole life – and to leave the bad parts of my work at my desk.

+ To have a community of family, friends, and co-workers and feel like I am an important part of that community. I want to feel like I belong in my own right. Since I like being alone, it’s easy for me to forget how almost 100% of the time, I’m glad I left the house and did something, instead of staying home and watching tv. I want to remember how enriching it can be to put in the effort.

+ To be really good at yoga.

+ To quietly and genuinely appreciate each day, and enjoy the moments, instead of feeling vaguely panicky, as though there were something I could be doing to appreciate my life better.

+ To actually do all the things I say I want to do, like kayaking, or decorating the apartment for Halloween, or finding a zipline tour place locally, or going apple picking, or going on a wine tasting tour. If there was a person out there who did all those things, I would be so jealous of their life, so why can’t that person be me?

+ To have 3 different flavors of home-made ice cream in the freezer at all times.

 

These aren’t exactly goals that I will ever be able to say I have definitively achieved, but in this case, that’s kind of the point. This is more of a framework for the kind of life I want.

What kind of life do you want?

Whew! (this counts as a really late Tuesday night post, btw)

21 Sep

My blog weekend extended into Monday this week, because my weekend was a little bit crazy and I needed an extra day. This was mostly because I spent Saturday night in the ER, and I feel I was robbed of one of the best nights of the week.

I’m totally fine, and while I don’t really want to get into why I was there, it was less of an ’emergency’ and more of a ‘let’s check to make sure you aren’t dying’ type of situation, and I’m not dying, so really it was the best kind of ER visit there was. I’ve never been to the emergency room before, (hell, I’ve been to a real doctor like 3 times that I can remember), so it was kind of exciting in retrospect.

I spent most of my stay there watching my heart rate monitor, pretending I was on Scrubs/wishing JD would come bursting through the curtain, being wheeled around in my bed, which is quite awkward, particularly when you are perfectly capable of walking on your own, but can’t because then everyone could see your butt, since you’re in a hospital gown, and trying to keep from flashing everyone, since said hospital gown had a nice hole perfectly placed over my chest.

I left with a hospital bracelet, some heart monitor pads stuck to my chest, which was awesome because I didn’t remember they were there until I was getting ready for bed later, and a nice bruise.

This picture doesn’t fully do it justice. I call it my track mark, which I think says less about my bruise and more about the fact that I clearly have no idea what a track mark looks like, and I’m afraid to google it.

Anyway, the hospital is cool, but I never want to go there again. I simply cannot handle strangers sticking their hands down my shirt like it isn’t any big thing.

Welcome Fall!

16 Sep

Today has been one of my favorite kinds of days. It’s been gloomy, gray, and cool. I’m wearing a sweater, I need to have a lamp on, and it’s been raining on and off. Too many of these kinds of days make me super depressed, but since this is the first one of the season, I’m snuggled up inside and dreaming of all the fun fall activities to come. My birthday is in exactly one month, Halloween is soon after that, and I’m dreaming of pumpkin carving, fall decorations, the state fair, and apple cider.

I decided at the last minute to knock out a project this weekend, so I may have something cool to show you early next week. I hope everyone has a great weekend!