Archive for February, 2010

Just Say No

Sunday, February 21st, 2010


Learning to say “no” to people is tough, and can make you feel like a jerk in the moment; but it is oh-so-necessary, in both business and your personal life. If you say “yes” to every project or favor that comes your way, you can set yourself — and anyone you’re working with — on a path toward potential disappointment.

I’ve gotten much better at saying “no” in my personal life. Professionally, I’ve been trying to focus more on the creative projects I want to work on. That means I need to withdraw from tasks that don’t fit into my time table or wheelhouse… which is easier said than done. Walking away is especially challenging when you are short on change and could simply use a few extra bucks. And when a project falls into your lap… why not take advantage of it? Seems quick and easy, right?

Lessons I learned from my most recent project:

  • It is never quick and easy. Never ever.
  • The client inquiring about your services needs to understand what you provide. For me, I need to point them to my portfolio and make sure that they know what my artistic style is — I don’t do soft charcoals or life-like sketches. On the flipside, maybe ask for some examples of what they like. This helps make sure everybody’s on the same page, and can save time and energy later.
  • Be aware of the subject matter. This project was for a religious blog and in this particular case meant detail work. My style tends to be rather simplistic and cutesy — robed Jesus is neither of these, and it was not a natural fit.
  • Custom work will always take longer than you think it will. Illustrations will take four times longer than the client thinks they will. I need to charge appropriately for the time involved, even when it scares someone away. My time is worth more money than what I’m usually charging, and I could use that time to do something more personally fulfilling (which could in turn lead to a better paying, more Rachel-appropriate project down the road).

The gentleman I worked with on this project was an absolute pleasure to correspond with, and I believe all parties were pleased in the end. Unfortunately, I now have a final product that will not go into my portfolio, because it is not a style I’d like to do again in the future. Now I know I need to better probe potential clients for what they’re looking for, make sure it fits into what I do, and be brave enough to say “no thanks” if we aren’t both going to benefit from working together.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest

Saturday, February 6th, 2010


I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest.

I’ve been sitting on The Sum of David for years now — the first draft was completed Christmas of 2006 — and man do I hate putting time into the getting published portion of… getting published. I am totally my worst enemy.

I like the story writing part, not the paperwork. I’m a designer, remember. There’s thankfully little paperwork in design.


This year’s competition has a separate category for Young Adult Fiction, which TSoD falls right into. I’ve struggled with writing summaries of varying length for TSoD in the past, but I guess ignoring the whole process for a year will freshen you up: I threw something down from scratch and Josh said was the absolute best pitch I’d ever done for the story. That’s encouraging. Hopefully the judges think so, too.

I like to consider myself a realist (doesn’t everyone?), so I’m not holding out extraordinary hopes. I indulged myself with a single day dream in which I won the whole shebang, but even in my fantasy I hung up on the person, jumping on them for making such a cruel joke of someone’s passion.

Maybe I’m not a realist. Maybe I’m a full-blown pessimist.

Whatever the outcome, I will¬† be exceptionally pleased with myself if I can make it past the first round… wouldn’t that be grand?

Amazon is accepting submissions through February 7, 2010 at 11:59 pm, or until they have recieved 5,000 entries in each category. If you have a finished novel sitting in a drawer collecting dust, now would be the time to break that baby out and give it some air.  Best of luck to those submitting!


Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

I did some screen printing on Tuesday night. It was my first time printing on fabric, and my goal was to do a pillow design that would compliment the mural I painted on the wall in my studio. The mural is a bunch of birch tree trunks.


You know, I don’t even like orange that much as a color. It’s kind of obnoxious most of the time if it’s on its own. However, I wanted a room that would pop, and a turquoise/white/orange combo will do just that.

Of course, now the pillow needs put together. Need a button sewn on? I got it. Split your dress pants doing some heavy lifting? Not a problem. You would like refined straight seams that construct something that will fit a pillowform?

Oh my, aren’t you funny?

That’s why it’s nice to have friends like Val, who has offered to teach me how to use that mysterious voodoo box that makes cloth stick together. I don’t trust it, I tell you.