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Showing posts from February, 2010

A Decade in the Top Tier… The End?

Continued…
LPK arranged for a relocation expert to find suitable apartment candidates, we made a trip a few weeks earlier to look at them. We picked one, started packing and I gave notice to my clients that I will no longer be a freelancer. I got a lot of "good bye and good luck" e-mails and I also said good bye to my friends in South Bend. The change would be welcome. I spent 7 years in Northern Indiana; add another 1 1/2 for my wife. She finished college in 4 years, she went straight to grad school that summer. It took me a bit longer to finish undergrad and move to Indiana to be with her. Although I have many friends there, I don't miss that place. Too small, too cold, nothing to do except go to Chicago. I was on my way from living in a small town to moving to a "Weather Map City"; which are the ones that are shown on TV when the weather guy goes to a map of the country.
June 9th 2003; Estelle and I threw all of our crap into a 14 ft. U-haul truck and made th…

A Decade In The Top Tier… Part Four

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Spring 2003; I had spent the last 3 years freelancing in Chicago from South Bend, IN. I found success way faster than I thought I would, and the time came to find some stability after 3 years of lost invoices, sporadic workloads, and crammed all-nighters.
I worked with so many great people at some great companies and maintain contact with many of them to this day. I managed to keep my workload going during 9/11; during the stock market implosion of 2002, and in spite of the fact that the local area I lived in at the time had almost NO market for top-tier creative; I might as well had been a ventriloquist dummy salesman.
Basically I did the impossible; but I knew that I was pressing my luck continuing to freelance. All during the time I freelanced, I kept an eye on jobs in the Chicago market. I interviewed at a medium-sized toy company in Chicago as a Design Director. The gig looked promising; and it would have been a lot of fun; my background in comics and illustration would h…

A Decade in the Top Tier… Part Three

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Continued…
Late summer 2000, I met with two people at Unilever's Wells St location; let's call them Clark & Bruce. They sat me down and showed me the creative deck for a variety of Suave shampoos; this was my initiation. I knew next to nothing about Packaged Consumer Products! Again, I learned by doing! Over time a variety of Unilever brand managers filled my in box with one concept request after another.
This was everything I dreamed it would be! The work was steady, but the lifestyle of a freelancer was a lot to get used to. I was not used to the invoice cycle; do the work, send an invoice, wait 30 days, get paid… if there were no problems! Otherwise you had to wait, and wait, and wait for your money. Guess who doesn't wait? The phone bill, the light bill, the rent, etc. etc. Money was a constant juggling act; sometimes the phone got "disconnected"; it was fun! Estelle was a grad student at the time, so she didn't make any money. We were solely dependent …

A Decade in the Top Tier… Part Two

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Continued:
I gave notice at The Tire Rack months in advance. The original plan was to move to Atlanta, GA.
Estelle and I were tired of living in the frigid Midwest and Atl is close to our hometown (10 years later and we're still in the Midwest). So earlier that spring I flew to Atlanta and interviewed at a bunch of places. Some were very promising, some not so much… just about ALL of them did not offer me a job. When I got back to Indiana I looked around at the local design companies there (most did RV catalogs, most were terrible, and NONE of them offered me a job!)
This is the part of the story where a person with sense would have just gone back to work at The Tire Rack and stayed there. The gig was good, I had lots of creative freedom, and the people were very nice; if not a little bit old-fashioned. The problem was that I was terribly bored working there. Most of the time I just looked online at all the creative gigs in "real" cities and wished I were there instead.
So t…

A Decade in the Top Tier… Part One

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As the decade rolls into 2010; I'm feeling the need to write about the last 10 years of my career. I've been a creative professional all of my adult life; starting when I was 17 as the only high-school student intern at The State Newspaper in my hometown Columbia, SC. To this day I have no formal Graphic Design education; everything I know how to do comes from experience, patience, and trying very hard to learn something new all the time. I have tried to possess little fear of the unknown. I was never trained how to use any of the programs that I intimately know how to use now. The answer is that you learn a little bit at a time, and translate what you know into what you are trying to learn.The year was 1989, and the digital design field was still very young. I spent the next 5 summers (1 in high school, 4 in college) learning as much as possible about the Macintosh, and what a creative mind could do with it! Design was my backup plan; as I aspired to draw comic books profess…