Saturday, June 4, 2011

Alan 2.0

Alan: Beta

If you have followed me on twitter you have no doubt heard me mention Alan 2.0

I figure it is time to explain this seeing as I'm about a month in.

I learned to use Photoshop back in 2000. I was hired at Results back then and I worked in the screen room burning the screens for the press.

Eventually the artist, Danny started having me over to his house to learn Ps. We were using Ps 7 back then.

After a few weeks I was told by the owner Steve, that I could bring my Mac from home and occasionally help with art. So thats how it started.

I did pretty well there and eventually moved on to freelance.

Freelance went ok for a while. I was doing pretty good designs and getting $50-$75 a design. Danny always thought I was underselling things but I just couldn't imagine someone paying money for something out of my head.
I was brash (well a little more so) back then and I didn't take corrections well. I ended up parting ways with my main client because he wanted me to add flames and skulls to a design. I just couldn't bring myself to destroy the design like that.
Then there was quite a dry spell for a bit.

I got a job at the local theatre, I still had one client and I did a pretty big job for them and got $900 which blew my mind. For the record it was a month worth of work and 7 designs so $900 still got me mocked by Danny.

That client dried up too shortly there after and I just couldn't find another one. Around that time I was promoted to manager of the theatre and I stopped even trying.
I knew deep down that I should be doing art but I just felt embarrassed that I wasn't using this gift so I sold my mac ridiculously cheap ($400 for a 2 year old Mac tower Mitsubishi monitor and Track ball) just so I wouldn't have it as a reminder of how I stopped following my dream.

After leaving the theatre 4 years later I decided to get back on the horse. Danny was still working at Results but wanting to leave so he talked to the owner and they hired me back as full time artist.

I worked there for 2 more years. Eventually I was let go from there and decided to was time to try freelance again.

While I was working freelance and what not Danny, my friend and mentor was building his dream shop. Literally building it from concrete up himself. Framed it, finished it, roofed it everything but the electric.
It was beautiful and I spent quite a bit of time over there visiting him.

It went pretty well that time. I found a really good client, well really good to me. I was still only making $75 a design and I might do 15 designs for one topic when they would only pick 6 designs and I wasted all that time doing designs that never left my hard drive.

Around that time the owner of Results called me apologized for letting me go the last time and asked me to come back because they really needed a high end artist. I was flattered and promised that I would not have to deal with the horrible shrew of a lady that caused me to leave the last time. I was told I could make my own hours, come and go when I pleased and make quite a bit more than I used to there. However since I didn't work a full week, usually 20-30 hours I didn't make very much at all. I was running about $150-$200 a week.

My freelance client lost their freelance liaison & the owner of the company wanted to be my "handler" I did a few jobs for them which they bought but he was hard to get hold of. I would email him the designs and rather than emailing me the changes he would want to talk on the phone.
I'd call him at the agreed upon time and he'd either be busy or not there. Which is understandable because he runs a company. I kept trying to tell him just to email the changes but he just wouldn't do it. Eventually he emailed me to tell me that he would be turning me over to the new freelance liaison and that was it. Her name was Paige and she emailed once to tell me that Gary told her to work with me and she never wrote again.

I did a few more local freelance jobs really cheap for friends and acquaintances while working at Results.

Then one day an older client of Results submitted a work order. The work order was really unclear so I asked a few questions. The customer was wrong, there was no way around it. She submitted a work order for 4 color screenprint but the art was only 3 color. I asked what she wanted me to do and she wasn't sure. I told her I could add the other color no prob but it'd be cheaper just to leave it off. She told me to follow the work order. I said fine and asked what the 4th color should be. She just couldn't grasp the fact that the paperwork was wrong.

Eventually she asked to speak to the other artist and still she didn't understand that we couldn't follow her paperwork unless she gives us the new color.

Later she got back to me and decided it would be 4 colors. This was fine. I asked again what the 4th color should be and she said the paperwork should tell me which was our original problem. I explained again that it wasn't covered and I'd put it on hold and she could talk to her client about the design and resubmit correct paperwork.

She said fine and asked to talk to the boss.

A few hours later the boss came by and popped his head in my office and told me that the client thought I was curt with her and she "demanded" that I apologize.
I told him I didn't think I could do it because I really didn't feel like I did anything wrong. He told me I had til the end of the day to write her an apology and he left the office.

So I had a decision in front of me. I guess I wouldn't have minded if it had been presented to me different. Just to tell me you know the the client is wrong and to have proof they were wrong but to be told the client "demands" an apology was pretty much the wrong way to present it to someone who is really not making much money.

There was no incentive to stay. I knew I could find a client or 2 on my own that would pay at least the minimum of the $600-$800 I was making there.

So because I had worked there 3 times already and I had decided when I went back that time that I would have a scorched Earth policy this time. Meaning that when I left it would be so spectacular there was no way they would ask me back. So this was my apology...

Steve said I need to apologize to you. Not sure why seeing as you yelled at me and then hung up. Plus you were 100% wrong, by giving us paperwork that was incorrect and then not knowing enough about your own job (po 10182 b) to have a conversation with out yelling and throwing in a swear.


However in the interest of diplomacy, I'll say I'm sorry.



Sorry




Alan

I carbon copied that to Steve the owner and I left for the day.

The next day however I was violently ill all morning so I didn't go in. Later about 3pm I went in to see if there was anything pertinent for me to do and I was told Steve freaked when he saw my email that morning and I was banned from the building. Mission accomplished on my part.

I found out later that the client sent a snarky email response to my letter and as per my scorched earth policy I responded with an unbelievably scathing response that shut her up completely.
A few days later I found out the client had forwarded the second email to Steve who printed it out and took it to the other employees trying to find out if anyone knew I was writing it or how I found out she responded in the first place.

Now I was unemployed and had zero clients.

Danny was working out of his shop for a whale of a client. I had actually submitted art to that company myself but they passed on me. Even though I was offering my work at $100 a job.

So I went by the shop and told him about Results and my leaving. He was quiet and we talked like we normally do. As I left he asked me to come back around 10am the next day.

I showed up and he had a proposal for me. He wanted me to commit for one year to working with him as freelance artist out of his shop. He had written the whole thing down and had a plan for his big client, getting more clients and starting our own line.

I talked to my wife and we agreed to take the chance. Since I wasn't making too much at Results it was pretty easy to convince her that I could easily make as much or more with Danny.
Alan 2.0

So here I sit, working on my Mac from Danny's shop. I've already sold several designs at $300+ and collaborated on a couple other designs that I got paid half for. I've made way more in a month than I did at Results and we haven't picked up a second client yet cuz Danny has been in the process of renovating a loft for his new apartment. I don't have a surplus of money but Lin and I are getting caught up on bills so we can.

When we pick up a second and maybe a third I'll be doing really well.

So for the next year atleast, there is no part time, no full time nothing but freelance and it is amazing.

I go to work at 10am and I work with my good friend until I feel like going home and I still make a living. I am ridiculously blessed and I am trying desperately not to take it for granted.

So that is Alan 2.0, full time freelancer.

Thanks for reading, I know this was a long one.

Alan


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