Blog - The Joys of Self Employment:

by Kevin
Sun, Apr 03, 2011

I think that for a comic strip created by two graphic designers, we have done remarkably well with holding back on complaining about how completely backwards the freelance world is. My cohort has decided to try his hand at the world of freelance, and so I wanted to take an opportunity to warn him precisely what he was getting himself into.

It turns out it isn’t pretty.

I have worked on some freelance in my time as well. Fortunately, the majority of my experience was positive, but that was only because the bulk of my freelance work has been for family or friends. On the rare occasion that I have done design work for people I did not have some sort of relationship with, it did not end particularly well. Let me explain via humorous anecdote.

Shortly after graduating college, I was given the contact information for a woman who wanted to hire a freelance illustrator; I spoke with her over the phone about her project. At the time, I was still a fresh-faced idealist who believed in the goodness of the human soul, and as such, I did not demand her signature upon legally binding paperwork requiring that I be paid for my work. I submitted illustrations to her via e-mail, and never heard from her again, despite repeated attempts to get in touch with her. The truly tragic part of this tale is the actual subject matter. She wanted anthropomorphic animals. By that I do not mean animals that act like humans. I mean animals that walk and talk like men and voluptuous, massive-breasted women.

I mean Furries.

I learned a valuable lesson. Now the only time I do freelance without money changing hands is when I know it is going to be free in advance and the job meets two of the three following criteria:

1. You are my friend.
2. Your project is fun and/or incredibly rewarding in some other fashion.
3. It will take me less than 10 minutes to complete.

Many designers complain about the general public not valuing design, but I find designers themselves to typically be the biggest problem in this area. Numerous times I have been copied on a mass e-mail along with many other designers and artists announcing a logo contest for a company or organization, promising a $100 cash prize for the winning design. As soon as I see an e-mail with the word “contest” in it, I delete it without ever opening it. This is insanity. By this logic, if I needed a physical, I could just go to a doctor for a physical and then only pay the doctor who gave me the most favorable results. Go on, tell me I’m physically fit, incredibly muscular, and that on the day I was born, God lifted his hands high and said, “Behold, my most wondrous creation!” That wouldn’t go over well in the medical field and it shouldn’t go over well in the graphic design world either, but it does.

Shifting subjects, Marc and I have both been playing quite a bit of the Nintendo 3DS, despite our claim last week that there was nothing worth playing at launch. I won’t speak for him. He can type up his thoughts later if he chooses too, but personally, I’m greatly enjoying the new handheld. We both played Super Street Fighter IV against each other online this week with minimal slowdown, and I’m convinced that the brief slowdown we did experience was only due to my failing wireless router. The perfect frame rate returned as soon as I stepped closer to the router. The 3D is quite impressive and not gimmicky like I was initially concerned it might be. It is something you need to take breaks from, which I discovered after a four hour marathon right out of the gates. The battery life is pretty low as well, but other than those two complaints, I’m very pleased with the system. I played around with Street Pass a little bit at a LAN party yesterday and had some Miis transferred from other peoples’ systems. The games I’m really excited for aren’t coming for another couple of months, but I’m having enough fun with it right now that I feel good about the purchase.

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