Once in a while I'm contacted by
someone looking for employment. A young woman contacted me looking
for work as a graphic artist. She was a college graduate, said she
could design logos, layout ads and business cards, make web sites and
more. I asked if she had her own web site, she didn't. No portfolio,
nothing to show. Amazing. Not only is a website a good way for people
who are looking for your service to find you, it's a good portfolio;
and it documents your career, like a resume.
So...you're saying you build web
sites, but you don't have a single one of your own? I don't even
claim offer the service professionally, but I've made about six
sites. There are times when 75% of my work comes from the Internet.
A man contacted me looking for work
this winter. He has worked in the tourist area for 20 years doing
airbrushed T shirts. There were times when a guy could make a good
living doing that, but according to him, those days are in fast
decline. So I asked if he had any pictures of work he's done. Not one
picture. Man, even in the days before computers, Internet, and
digital cameras, sign painters took pictures of their work. We could
sell our services with a simple photo album.
Both of these people had the same
problem: the myth of continuity. She thought that life was still as
it was back in the 1950's, or sometime when you could spend your
entire career working for a small number of agencies, one at a time.
Job security, go home at five, retirement, bonuses; whatever that
idyllic situation was. Life isn't that way anymore, if it ever was.
His version of the myth was that the arrangement would continue; that
the trend and demand would continue, that the economy would allow
people to be tourists, and so on.
The new situation is in one word:
fluid. That, and rely on no one, absolutely no one but yourself to be
in charge of your career and employment. You're a free agent, even
when working full time for one company. Documentation is crucial.
Even if the second person had never done artwork in his life; let's
say he was a fine cabinet wood worker, I would have been more
inclined to include him on some of my more diverse projects if he had
decent documentation of himself. Something like the pending faux
finish on metal handrails. Or a deck painting job that I was asked
about. I would know that he was attentive to details, finished what
he started, and had the awareness to document and promote himself. I
could pitch him to my existing clients, and place more trust in him.
Notice another thing above: how
diverse I am in my work. While it's true that old school sign work
includes a number of fields, I've stretched it lately, just to stay
employed. I used an airless sprayer to paint boxcars, when asked if I
could paint a house, I knew I could get through it. That produced a
referral for a second house painting job. The owner of the caboose
I'm working on asked me to include some other work, like reattaching
a door, and other odd things. On the outside of the caboose, I merged
my knowledge of computer graphics with the research I did to
replicate period methods with modern technology. This allowed the
lettering paint to be applied in a way very similar to back when; but
the computer files can be shared on the Internet with other people
doing their own research. Which is: Ding-ding!, more content,
traffic, links, and documentation.
Meanwhile, I've become nearly
obsessed with content for the website. I always have the camera, I
document much of what I do. I have a Facebook page for the more
a website for my sign work,
and I think now that
spending more time on Linkedin than FB will have better interaction,
links and traffic back to my sites. It takes a while to learn, but
it's not complex.
One of my sons is gifted mechanically.
He has a wide knowledge of parts, operations, and repairs. Once in
awhile he buys something cheap, and fixes it. He bought a used motor
boat at a steep discount because the motor wouldn't run. It had all
new ignition parts, wires and spark plugs; but wouldn't run. My son
found out that sometimes the tachometer in the dash shorts out, and
stalls the whole motor. That was indeed the problem, now he has a
more valuable boat. I am now telling him to document every project
with before and after pictures. I fully expect that in time he'll
move up from boats and large lawn mowers to bulldozers and other
equipment. Having the progress documented will build trust with
The old days are gone, adapt now. I
think denial is part of life, this is what I wrote while doing this
morning's Bible study. I'm reading in Genesis, where Lot is being
told to leave the city before it's destroyed. Here's the entry:
Little oblivion, bug oblivion...
To make a place in this world, a home,
a clearing of comfort in the thicket of difficulty, pain and
disorder. A place to raise a family. The great paradox of beauty next
to treachery. We keep the sorrow and evil in check, we get accustomed
to this, the masters of denial. But the whole world is a story, a
timeline with an end, a judgment. Much of what we work against
involves time: decay and disorder. Let us not be conditioned to
denying time and change in work and technology.