as promised: pro photos

The umbrella was NOT part of the costume, but a fun prop in the studio!

Ah-ha! The link for the pro photos from Halloween 2009: The Future Is Now has been posted. Feast your eyes on this slide show from Peek Photography, our wonderful and hard-working hosts.

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Filed under friends, Halloween, holidays, sewing

working for free

I didn’t write this. I found it online while searching for tips for writing an effective design proposal. I did what research I could to find the original author, but met a dead end with an anonymous losangeles.craigslist post that dates back to January of 2007. It’s pure gold. If you ever hope to hire a web designer, graphic designer, seamstress, pinstriper, writer, photographer, illustrator… anyone working in a creative field, or if you work in any creative field yourself, you need to read this.


Every day, there are more and more posts on here seeking “artists” for everything from auto graphics to comic books to corporate logo designs. More people are finding themselves in need of some form of illustrative service.

But what they’re NOT doing, unfortunately, is realizing how rare someone with these particular talents can be.

To those who are “seeking artists”, let me ask you; How many people do you know, personally, with the talent and skill to perform the services you need? A dozen? Five? One? …none?

More than likely, you don’t know any. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be posting on here to find them.

And this is not really a surprise.

In this country, there are almost twice as many neurosurgeons as there are professional illustrators. There are eleven times as many certified mechanics. There are SEVENTY times as many people in the IT field.

So, given that they are less rare, and therefore less in demand, would it make sense to ask your mechanic to work on your car for free? Would you look him in the eye, with a straight face, and tell him that his compensation would be the ability to have his work shown to others as you drive down the street?

Would you offer a neurosurgeon the “opportunity” to add your name to his resume as payment for removing that pesky tumor? (Maybe you could offer him “a few bucks” for “materials”. What a deal!)

Would you be able to seriously even CONSIDER offering your web hosting service the chance to have people see their work, by viewing your website, as their payment for hosting you?

If you answered “yes” to ANY of the above, you’re obviously insane. If you answered “no”, then kudos to you for living in the real world.

But then tell me… why would you think it is okay to live out the same, delusional, ridiculous fantasy when seeking someone whose abilities are even less in supply than these folks?

Graphic artists, illustrators, painters, etc., are skilled tradesmen. As such, to consider them as, or deal with them as, anything less than professionals fully deserving of your respect is both insulting and a bad reflection on you as a sane, reasonable person. In short, it makes you look like a twit.

A few things you need to know;

1. It is not a “great opportunity” for an artist to have his work seen on your car/’zine/website/bedroom wall, etc. It IS a “great opportunity” for YOU to have their work there.

2. It is not clever to seek a “student” or “beginner” in an attempt to get work for free. It’s ignorant and insulting. They may be “students”, but that does not mean they don’t deserve to be paid for their hard work. You were a “student” once, too. Would you have taken that job at McDonalds with no pay, because you were learning essential job skills for the real world? Yes, your proposition it JUST as stupid.

3. The chance to have their name on something that is going to be seen by other people, whether it’s one or one million, is NOT a valid enticement. Neither is the right to add that work to their “portfolio”. They get to do those things ANYWAY, after being paid as they should. It’s not compensation. It’s their right, and it’s a given.

4. Stop thinking that you’re giving them some great chance to work. Once they skip over your silly ad, as they should, the next ad is usually for someone who lives in the real world, and as such, will pay them. There are far more jobs needing these skills than there are people who possess these skills.

5. Students DO need “experience”. But they do NOT need to get it by giving their work away. In fact, this does not even offer them the experience they need. Anyone who will not/can not pay them is obviously the type of person or business they should be ashamed to have on their resume anyway. Do you think professional contractors list the “experience” they got while nailing down a loose step at their grandmother’s house when they were seventeen?

If you, your company or gig was worth listing as desired experience, it would be able to pay for the services it received. The only experience they will get doing free work for you is a lesson learned in what kinds of scrubs they should not lower themselves to deal with.

6. (This one is FOR the artists out there, please pay attention.) Some will ask you to “submit work for consideration”. They may even be posing as some sort of “contest”. These are almost always scams. They will take the work submitted by many artists seeking to win the “contest”, or be “chosen” for the gig, and find what they like most. They will then usually have someone who works for them, or someone who works incredibly cheap because they have no originality or talent of their own, reproduce that same work, or even just make slight modifications to it, and claim it as their own. You will NOT be paid, you will NOT win the contest. The only people who win, here, are the underhanded folks who run these ads. This is speculative, or “spec”, work. It’s risky at best, and a complete scam at worst. I urge you to avoid it, completely.

So to artists/designers/illustrators looking for work, do everyone a favor, ESPECIALLY yourselves, and avoid people who do not intend to pay you. Whether they are “spec” gigs, or just some guy who wants a free mural on his living room walls. They need you. You do NOT need them. Say NO to free art.

And for those who are looking for someone to do work for free… please wake up and join the real world. The only thing you’re accomplishing is to insult those with the skills you need. Get a clue.

If you agree with the above important information, please pass it along. The more people know, the faster we can correct this.


Filed under for doing the right thing., Thank you, the office

Unrelated to anything: My Most Embarrassing Moment

Side Note: Those hands-free mobile phone headsets? They’re very good at transmitting the caller’s voice, and also at voiding out most background noise like traffic, other passengers in your car, and the radio.

Once Upon A Time, there was this guy I liked. Giving you some background but maintaining his privacy, he’s a fairly successful local musician/singer/songwriter, and you can buy his albums on CDBaby and eMusic and iTunes and Amazon. For the rest of this story, remember that he’s a professional singer.

Okay, so we’re hanging out at his place one night, and he asks if he can kiss me. Asks. If he had just leaned in and DONE it, that would have been one thing. But no, he asks. Now, I had only very recently broken up with a long-term boyfriend, so I was still reeling from that. And even though I WANTED to kiss this guy, I fumbled and sputtered and told him “not yet” and blathered out some incoherent, long-winded explanation and when the dust settled and I wanted to curl up into a ball and die, we continued to stay in touch. I wasn’t sure if I’d blown it or not.

But that’s not the embarrassing part. Oh, no.

One night, I’m driving a coworker/friend home from the office. There is an AMAZING moon on the horizon, and I pop in my headset, flip open my phone, and call this guy to alert him to go outside. I get his voicemail. I leave a quick message, and flip the phone shut. My pal in the car and I start singing “I see the moon and the moon sees me…” and when we’re all done with the song, maybe a couple of times, we turn on the radio, where we start singing along with Linda Ronstadt, belting out “When Will I Be Loved.” I’m pretty sure that we got through the whole song by the time I hear my phone beep, and realize that my headset is still in my ear. And discover that my phone does NOT hang up the call when you flip it shut if the headset is plugged in. And that I have just left a 10-minute voicemail serenading this guy, asking When Will I Be Loved. Because he CANNOT HEAR the radio, or my passenger, and does not know that any of this was unintentional.

I never heard from him again.


Filed under big fat mouth, friends, music, romance, relationships, Ultra Maroon

Twerps. Twoids?

Snippets of information that WOULD be tweets if I could squeeze them into 140 characters. But I talk too much.

  • I smashed a large, lumbering, pesky fly last night. Whacked it a few times to make sure it was good and dead. Didn’t rush to dispose of it because 1. euw and 2. it wasn’t going anywhere. But 15 or 20 minutes later when I decided to do something about it, it was gone. I’m hoping that one of the housecats got it, but I don’t recall seeing either of them in the area. I’m waiting to be attacked by a giant and vengeful fly, hopefully in my sleep.
  • Mom brought over a DVD of Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas that she borrowed from the library, which reminded me of two things: 1. The library is a wonderful resource for obtaining books and music and movies FOR FREE and 2. I am not in the mood for watching a Christmas movie in August.
  • Yes, I was in Sacramento for Midnight Mass. Yes, I had a wonderful time. No, I didn’t take a single, solitary photo. Not even with my phone. My friend Rich posted some, though, so here’s a link for those. Nick took some pretty nice car photos, when he sobered up enough to figure out how to focus Rich’s fancy camera, and those are posted here. I’ll be heading back to Cali for a friend’s birthday at the end of the month, and I’m toying with the idea of heading out again in September for Billetproof.
  • After a few people put the idea in my head that I should consider going to school for hair cutting/styling, combined with the dismal print design jobs being advertised (or even whispered about), I decided to contact a local reputable-looking school. According to the enrollment gal who called me back, Colorado requires 1800 hours of combined training to get a cosmetology license, which works out to going back to school full-time (Mon-Fri from 8:30 to 5) for 11 straight months, or choosing the part-time option which is “only” 4 hours every weeknight except Friday, plus all day Saturday, for two years. We didn’t even get around to discussing the cost, beyond the application fee. I’m just not that serious about it, I guess, but that’s not a time commitment that I’m ready to make right now.
  • I’ve posted a few vintage patterns on my etsy store (more to come as I get the pattern pieces counted and envelopes scanned), and I woke up one morning thinking that one pattern, which was in my size, was just too pretty to let go. Of course, that was the one that had sold overnight. I did my best to make a hurried copy of the pattern before I shipped it out, but it’s not likely I’ll get to it in the near future. I have too many other unsewn patterns!
  • I have a basement full of stuff that I need to photograph and get listed in the shop. It takes an enormous amount of time; I’m sorry that I haven’t been better about it. If there’s a particular item that you’re waiting for me to list (I know there are a few of you waiting for specific dresses) then please harass me about it and I’ll get to those first.
  • My radish garden was a waste of soil this year, but my cherry tomatoes are doing well in their EarthBox. I’m also growing artichoke leaves (no actual blossoms yet) as well as Brussels sprouts and cauliflower in there. SOMETHING is chewing holes in the leaves of the cruiciferous plants, but I can’t find any bugs. Hopefully whatever it is leaves the actual veggies alone.

I need a nap. I’m cranky. I hope you all are doing well, please drop by and visit!

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Filed under blogging, friends, gardening, sewing, vacation

for hire

When I was first laid off at the end of last summer, I was immediately hired as a contractor by my ex-employer. I was back in the office the same week that I had been escorted out. Soon, another catalog came up, and I was hired for that one, too. As well as some other projects that fell within my scope of abilities. At the same time, I was working on smaller projects for other clients. Busy enough to keep out of trouble, and enough money coming in to cover my bills and set aside a chunk for taxes.

In January, things started to slow down. I was able to devote more time to actually selling the vintage goodies that I’ve been collecting, and while I’ll never get rich that way, it’s “pin money” and I enjoy seeing good pieces go to good homes.

But that has slowed down as well.

I’m not good at networking. I’m painfully shy, and rarely talk to people outside of my small circle of friends. Heck, I don’t even call my friends. I’m much more comfortable online, and can fake a general sense of confidence, but when it comes to digging for work, I suck. I use “social media” (even the jargon makes me gag) for socializing. Not for marketing.

“But you’re a designer,” people say. “There’s plenty of work out there, don’t you do Web design?” To which my explanation is this: A dentist and a veterinarian are both doctors, but you wouldn’t want the one filling in for the other. The similarities between designing for print and designing for Web end at “looks good.” All of the background stuff, the stuff that the client never sees, is completely different. It’s like making a traditional cupcake versus a vegan, gluten-free cupcake. In the end, they’re both cupcakes. But the ingredients are totally different. A few people are truly skilled at both, but not as many as they would have you think. I’ve seen many good Web designers do poor print work because they don’t know to take into consideration the line screen, the dot gain, the gripper area, the inaccuracy of a guillotine cutter. In the end, those behind-the-scenes details will affect the look of the finished piece. One of my more recent gigs was to fix the print files that had been provided by the client’s usually-Web designer, because the printer had kicked them back. All of the margins had to be adjusted, and therefore pages of copy had to be reflowed, because the designer didn’t know about the required safety zone. During my days in prepress, I spent much of my time rebuilding “spot color” files that had been designed in whole or part in CMYK or worse, RGB. Your client wants to know why the printing bill is so high? Go ahead and tell them that we spent 4 hours, at $60 per (that was ’95), editing the files you gave us so that we could actually RIP them. Or quietly eat your markup without saying a word about it, which is what you’re going to do to save face.

Conversely, my portfolio site is built in iWeb, which means that, in addition to not being very creative, it has funny little CSS-related (I think) bugs that I recognize but don’t know how to fix. Also, it looks neat in Safari but loses all drop shadows in any other browser. Again, I don’t know how to fix that. I know what SEO is, but not how to “maximize potential” or integrate it into my site. I’m not even sure how to add GoogleAnalytics to my site. I think I could do it, but I’m pretty sure it would mean not being able to edit it in iWeb any longer and the code for my site is probably too robust for me to tackle in my little HTML editor. I can’t control my fonts? My lines will rebreak? Color will shift? I cannot begin to tell you everything that I don’t know about Web design. Bottom line: I’m a print designer, not a programmer.

So what I’m saying is this: I’m available. My design work is adequate, and my production skills are second to none. If it’s for print, I know what I’m doing. I am not good at conference calls, at meet-ups, at glad-handing or schmoozing. I am good at sitting at my desk (or yours, if you prefer me to be on site) and cranking out work. Hire me. You can find my poorly-self-built Web site at

I think I’ll bake a batch of cupcakes today.

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Filed under the office


What did the big tomato say to the little tomato? Hey, ketchup!

So here I am, probably a month since my last post, and where has the time gone?

I haven’t sewn anything since the last post, although I’ve managed to score some more vintage fabric yardage with which to make more dresses, to add to the stock of items in my etsy store. It’s only the actual SEWING OF THE DRESSES that I haven’t gotten around to. But I keep futzing with the pattern I drafted, or rather, I’m futzing with it in my head. What I need to do is futz with it on paper, and get the “final” pattern cut already! Perhaps I should add the Wild Ginger pattern drafting software to my Kaboodle list! Drooool. For myself, I bought a few new patterns: Simplicity 3673, Vogue 8555, Butterick 6582 (which was NOT on sale, and I rarely—if ever—pay as much for a modern pattern as I did for that one, but I didn’t want to wait for a sale and JoAnn was still out of stock, so I had to get it from Hancock and here it is two weeks later and I haven’t done a thing with it), and McCall’s 5382 for which I also bought a lovely Hawaiian-print fabric with which to sew View A. Of course, I already have plans to alter the dress with convertible straps and a contrast fabric, a choice forced by the just-a-bit-less-than-required length of that Hawaiian-print fabric that was left on the bolt.

My over-the-range microwave had a stroke, a fact that I mentioned on Twitter. Minutes later, as I was looking up prices for a replacement, a friend (@fruitlady) tweeted back that she had her old over-the-range sitting in her garage, and I could have it if I wanted. Let us now all praise the magic of Twitter, and the kindness of friends. Friends who offer up their microwaves, and other friends (@jgamet, @ekwoman, and @gogobigred) who offer their services and maintain a sense of humor while uninstalling the old and installing the new-to-me microwave. Complete with a late-night trip to the hardware store only to NOT find all of the bolts I needed, which required a second day of instally goodness when I did get the right bolts. New microwave in its native environment: IMG_0760

I made a dairy-free cake for the lactose-intolerant host of a 4th of July party, and it wasn’t half bad. I subbed coconut oil for the butter in a cocoa cake recipe that didn’t call for any milk in the first place. Filled the layers with cherry jam, and topped it with a meringue frosting which involved no milk, butter, or cream cheese. The cake was a little dry in my opinion, but I don’t know if that was a result of the fat substitution or of my high-altitude cooking adjustments. IMG_0770

I tried to make the cake a little patriotic, although the blue is more “baby shower” and less “field of stars.” I also wore my stars-and-stripes Chuck Taylors, a red, white, and blue Mickey Mouse t-shirt, and our host, an ex-cop, taught us a little about gun safety: IMG_0772IMG_0776IMG_0777

I took my mom to a Rockies game for her birthday. She enjoys baseball, but hadn’t been to a pro game since she last saw the Dodgers… at Ebbets Field. I believe she was 6. The weather was perfect, the company (we went with friends) was lovely, and the Rockies won the game 1-0. Mom described it as “like an amusement park, but without the sticky rides.” Which I think is a good thing. IMG_0795

Nick came out for a weekend visit, which nearly didn’t happen as his dog-sitter went missing before getting instructions regarding Ringo’s new medication. The dog sitter finally reappeared, but not until after Nick had missed his flight, and United cancelled both Nick’s arriving AND departing tickets, forcing him to buy them all over again, at last-minute prices. I cannot thank him enough for shelling out what he did just to come see me, and it was my great pleasure to make an airport run that night. As a result of all of the flurry and stress, we decided to skip the camping trip we’d anticipated, and instead spent a relaxing weekend loitering over coffees, floating in the pool, watching DVDs, and generally giggling. IMG_0806

Today, I’m back to a bit of jewelry making (a specific project, but I’ll try to get new things posted to my store soon) and thinking about what it will take to get my place in “guest condition” if Dave and Jessi decide to stay here for the duration of their upcoming visit to Denver. There are a few flies hanging out in the kitchen, a small offshoot gang from the swarm that has invaded my yard as a result of my next-door neighbors penning their dogs in their back yard 24/7 and then not picking up after them.* Yech. The fly trap is reaching maximum capacity, and stinks, so old-fashioned flypaper may be my next experiment.

*Every time I thought about reporting them to Animal Welfare, they would coincidentally clean up the poop. Additionally, the wife’s father is a cop in this town, and I wonder if anything would actually come of a warning or if it would get “taken care of.” I know it’s a health hazard, so I sent a message to the landlords. Even if they can’t do anything about it, they should know.

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Filed under fashion, friends, jewelry, kitchen, romance, relationships, sewing

Walk away, and don’t look back.

I’ve talked about Butterick 4790 (the “walk away” dress) before. I don’t recall how long ago I bought the pattern, but I finally started the dress last September and stopped when I managed to hork up my sewing machine for a couple of weeks, and then didn’t get back to the dress mostly because of the tedium of stitching on nearly nine (NINE!) yards of bias tape. However, after the success and momentum of last weekend’s vintage sewing adventures, I finally got going on the last things I had to do to 4790, namely hemming and edging and buttons, oh my. And now that it’s finished,* like nearly all versions of the walk-away that I’ve seen posted, it hangs on me (and my mannequin) like a sack. This dress is meant to be fitted, and over heavy-duty shapewear at that. Modern sizing simply does not compute with this design. However… my friend Megan dropped by, and her shape is more, well, busty than my own, and the colors of this dress are just right for her, so… yep. The dress is now Megan’s.

*But for the buttons, which Megan will choose to suit her taste.



Filed under fashion, friends, sewing, vintage