Monthly Archives: October 2012

Wether you’ve set out on your own, or you’re managing PO’s and invoicing, or you are in charge of the whole process from quote to order to finished product, there are almost always a few things you wish you’d thought to push for in the contract when you got to ‘go ahead’.

I was skimming through the delicious DesignLoveFest blog when one of the creators, Katie, took the time to answer with some of her biggest ‘oops, important things to get into a contract’ notes (below).

technically my first graphic design job was designing the drink promotion tent cards at the restaurant i worked at in high school. but the one i count was designing a line of stationery cards for a new brand. i think i found it on craigslist. the ad asked for an illustrator with a print background. i sent my portfolio PDF showing the range of my illustration skills and my resume. the owner responded she liked my style and asked to meet me. we met at a bar, had some wine and she told me what she wanted her stationery line to be. it was right up my alley and we clicked really well. i knew what was required of me as a designer, but on the business side i had no clue what I was doing. i charged her $500 for 5 designs, each getting two rounds for revisions. i cringe when i think about how much work went into the designs. you live and you learn right?

what i would do differently today:
• charge $600 per card with two revisions for each design. if you’re new start out charging hourly. you will still be learning to manage your self and working with clients.

• add another $1,000 for all the email correspondence, managing the print vendors, deadlines, and all of our in person meetings.

• save my taxi and supply receipts to write those off as a business expense when i do my taxes.

• our contract would include what would happen if the idea is killed once the work has begun. is there a kill fee? do i get paid for a percentage of my fee? or paid for the hours? my client had changed her mind after two rounds on one of the cards to a new idea and i hadn’t brought that up in our contract. all that work down the drain and i had to start all over again.

• contract would say that if the client wanted more revisions after the two rounds i would charge my hourly rate to finish the project.

• contract would included rights and usage of the artwork. those designs i did now live on a ton of other products. my designs were also manipulated into other patterns and layouts and look really bad(in my opinion). it’s unfortunate because it could’ve been a great piece for my portfolio but now i don’t even want to show anyone. i could always redo it for myself but i guess i’m a little bitter about how the final product came to life.

• contract would say how long the client owns the rights to them. is it a year? 3 years (i’ve learned that 3 is an industry standard for product. it hits a season, goes on sale, maybe moves to outlet), or forever? depending on how long they want to have the rights another fee would be included. more years = more money.

• contract would say how many products each design can live on.

• require approval on ALL products my designs go on before they are put into production.

Obviously these are just a few notions, but they’re all transferrable to whatever your job might be and all worth thinking about.

One of the key things I found myself doing in the early days (and still on occasion get tempted by) was undervaluing the product. I would put a lower starting number, or maintain more flexible negotiation, in order to secure the job rather than push for the paycheque it deserved. Yes, there was always a decent profit margin built in, but it looks small when you start looking at what your work could actually be worth. Lesson one, don’t be afraid to sell yourself. If it’s quality work, people will pay rather than budget through and get lesser results (but they’ll never say no if you give them a low price but maintain quality). Don’t be a cocky asshole, you’ll never be too big for your boots cause there is always more to learn and do, but don’t underestimate your value. Don’t be scared to negotiate! They can only say no, and you should come prepared and with your stance and quote backed up by facts (and figures) and prospects and realistic points.

Secondly, keep it in writing. Always. Everything. Every little note ever. And keep disclaimers that sound vaguely legal and cover you on your emails. For the small time of creating a decent wording on your signature to protect your work and email agreements it’s more than worthwhile to save you from blind panic.

Don’t be scared to include silly things, if they’re not in writing they’re not agreed upon. Expenses, time spent, ownership of product (if applicable), reselling rights, support rights, etc etc. Make sure you cover all corners, and you can feel safe and protected moving forward. And protect your creativity.

Don’t play games. Clients expect a good service and a good result/quality of work when they put their trust and order with you. Don’t treat them as anything less, every client is important and much like people are a business most important asset clients are your livelihood. Their referrals, happiness and success translate into good things for you too, so always have a respectful and fair approach to them and listen as well as remember you’re hired for your expertise in whatever aspect they need your help (don’t forget to put your foot down and claim that expertise while remembering you can only inform them and if they chose to go against your suggestions you’ll have to let them, once you’ve explained you can’t be held liable).

Liability. Google it. Make sure it’s covered. And remember while business shouldn’t have to be, it is a dirty game and at some point you’ll deal with people who wouldn’t hesitate to throw you under if it came down to it. Protect yourself, your company and your work.

Kick ass, and don’t be afraid to do so. Business can be creative, innovative, fun, respectful, passionate and bloody enjoyable too. Just keep your head up, and remember it’s still business and those who don’t ask don’t get.



Don’t forget the fine print (or ‘things I wish I’d remembered for the first client order’)

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A Review of Looper and the Conclusion that Hollywood Sucks Bum.

Disclaimer: “Rant:  To speak or write in an angry or violent manner.” Contains Spoilers.

Three things I knew yesterday:

  1. Looper is an awesome film.
  2. People download films.
  3. I want to work in the film industries.

Three things I know today:

  1. Looper is actually not that great.
  2. People download films because there’s little worth paying good money for.
  3. I really want to work in the film industries and make them better.

Let me tell you how I reached these conclusions.

Yesterday I went to see Looper at my local Odeon. I’d heard great things (“It’s this generation’s The Matrix” blah blah), I was excited and ready to be blown away. Instead, I found myself seriously bored halfway through, and because I’m an obnoxious little know-it-all, I began analysing why I had reached such a state of non-interest.

Firstly, the protagonist is a husk of a human being and, apart from the ridiculous amount of eyebrow pencil he’s been forced to wear, I do not feel for any sympathy for him. Secondly, the villains are obviously terrible at being criminals and I do not feel threatened by their ineptitude. Thirdly, since we got to horribly-thin Emily Blunt’s farm the plot has looped in a whole other direction (see what I did there?).

My main problem with the film is the telekinesis. It’s casually introduced early in the film (“oh by the way, we can float coins now”) and you’re so unimpressed that you don’t think it’s going to be particularly relevant. Until HELLO strange demonic child who can flip cars with his mind? I thought this film was about time travel?!! But this kid will grow up to be the bad guy from the future? So now Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a really distracting nose and Bruce Willis is murdering kids for his mail-order Asian bride? That’s ridiculous!

Until finally we reach the end – oh my god, he has to kill himself to save the world? ONE: how fucking original. TWO: that would never happen because Joe is a selfish, greedy, drug addict who’s spent the whole film trying to save his sorry excuse for a life. There’s no way in hell he’d sacrifice himself.

I’m being quite harsh. I did enjoy the film’s production design. The special effects were swell and I thought the acting was actually very good (especially the terrifying child).

But the story felt like the kind of script idea you come up with when you’re high and/or drunk: “So it’s like set in the future, and they can time travel, but it’s totally illegal. And he’s so totally addicted to this new drug that they drip in through their eyeballs. Just so cool. But his future self comes back in time, and he’s gotta catch him before the bad guys kill him. And… and people are telekinetic! Oh my god YES! And this kid, he can, like, kill people just by looking at them! And the guy, the only way he can save everybody is if he shoots himself and it’s like so heroic, and so that ends the cycle so the kid doesn’t grow up to be evil in the future! Duuuuude.”

If we agree that the plot wasn’t all that grand, why has this film received so much hype and media attention?

Could it be because this is the first non-remake, non-prequel, non-sequel, non kids/animated, original film to come out of Hollywood in a LONG time. People aren’t used to having something completely new offered to them. Naturally, we all peed our pants a little (me, equally guilty).

I haven’t done any research, or put that much thought into this, but doesn’t it seem logical that if Hollywood actually made some new and decent films, people would actually go out to the cinema to see them? Who’s going to spend £8 on a ticket to see a remake they know won’t be as good as the original? Or to see a forced, un-exciting sequel of a film? Only the people too moral/scared/computer-illiterate to download. Much better to find a good torrent or to wait for the DVD to drop down from £15 to £3.

When will Hollywood understand that yes, remaking Back to the Future, or another Pirates of the Caribbean film, is a safe bet, but riskier, more exciting, original films will pay off in the long run?

Jaws, Alien, Avatar, Inception, Titanic…. all great original films (ignoring any subsequent sequels) – we need new filmmakers with fresh ideas who can erase the predictability from blockbusters and give birth to a new Hollywood.

Now for the corny ending: I want to be there in the middle of it all when the film industry reaches its next golden era. Awwwwww so inspiring/Please excuse me while I vomit on my shoes.

Rant over for now. I’m deeply sorry if you actually read to the end of this post  – don’t you have better things to do, like writing the next Titanic? Geez.

A xx

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Boss Lady Ness

Your phone is ringing. The email is suddenly filling up with subject lines such as ‘approval needed urgently’, ‘contract to be signed, check clause 4′ and ’employee review meeting-reminder’.

The world of Bosslady ness. It’s exhilarating, it’s inspiring, it’s full of deadlines and expectations. Suddenly you are not only expected to go above and beyond to full fill your role and then some, you are responsible not just for a few but The with capital ‘T’ employees on a day to day basis that will provide you the workforce and results you need to get the nod of approval from those Directors during your updates.

As of the past six months + I’ve found myself placed in the mad world of boss lady working, in perhaps one of the most male dominated (gray haired, no offence foxes) sections of the Media world there is, Sports Broadcasting. It’s been exciting, there’s been programming to Produce, and there’s been staff to manage and hire. And perhaps most exciting, there’s been plans and pitches however insane to build and follow!

One of the three most important things I’ve learned from this business, which is repeated again and again, is the value of people. Businesses aren’t built solely on money, big badassers on top or a good ideas. They are built and continue running successfully because of their people. At a recent conference on the future of Digital (which FYI bloody hell, get on that band wagon!! 11 year olds are our future programmers and the whole world is waiting to get connected! Our kids will laugh in our faces when we show them DVDs!) some of the most successful entrepreneurs  out there graced us with their presence and discussed how important is to surround yourself with not average, not ok, but excellent people. And then look after them! Value your employees, value their opinions, and make sure they are happy. Unhappy mistreated staff result in unhappy halfhearted client service and a lack of loyalty within. No one benefits there.

On that note, Richard Branson recently published his ‘Top 5’s on running and starting a business’ and emphasises the exact same thing (have a read here).

The second one, is probably enjoy what you do. If you come into work miserable everyone else will pick up on it. Creativity will halt and without passion and forward thinking there isn’t going to be much business development to speak of.

Thirdly you need a healthy work v private life balance. You need to be passionate enough about work that you don’t’ quite view it as such. Equally, we all know that it’s not quite that easy. Sometimes you’ll need to pull three week stints of ridiculously long days. That’s just part of your job, whatever it may be. You need to put the effort in when needed to push boundaries and backup the ideas and ventures you believe in. However, keep that up for much longer and rather than firing at 110% you’ll be falling down, from 80% to 60, 40, 25%…

One of my directors once sat me down and told me his most successful learning tool was a very simple one (he teaches major corporations, Banks in particular, about maximising their potential): shut off your blackberry/iPhone. Not just vibrating and checking the emails every half an hour. If you spend your life constantly with one foot halfway at work even while you’re meant to be focusing on living life (family, friends, those moments where you laugh and cry and live) you need to put 100% into it. 50/50 never works, because you end up giving some here and some there and never fully putting all your ability into one project. Fingers in many pies is one thing, as long as you remember which one is which.

A sort of unspoken fourth one I’d say is gamble. Take chances. If you don’t nothing new ever gets done. If no one ever tried silly or crazy things nothing clever would ever get done (I believe that’s a bit of a ripped off quote, yes :). Believe in yourself, whether you’re working in a massive organisation, in a small business, or you’re starting your own venture. Don’t forget, sometimes you’ll fail. That’s ok. If you didn’t you’d be Batman. And then you probably wouldn’t need this really, beyond loose the freaky voice (seriously, what is that!). You need to know you can fail, and feel comfortable enough knowing that you’ll be backed up in case you do (or if you are literally your own boss with no backing, know you have a whole cupboard full of noodles until you can get a new pay cheque. That’s ok too ;). Point is, take a chance, no one got anywhere exciting without scary obstacles but trying anyway.

Anyway, back to bossladynessing… It’s been quite a journey so far and, to be honest, in between the moments of panic and seriousness the feeling that this is actually just a little bit amaze balls is pretty exciting! It’s amazing what can happen when you have a little faith in yourself, suddenly others do to. So work your ass off! Don’t ever think it isn’t hard work, but always know nothing’s impossible. When a 24 year old turns up to a meeting and demands respect, especially if she is a woman, even in this day and age you’ll still get a few raised eyebrows. But don’t for a second think they won’t give you the time of day, don’t expect it but demand the respect you’ve earned.

And look after your staff!! They make or break :).

Gotta go, business development meetings to attend!!

xo xo


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