A little plain speaking

This blog is used for the sole purpose of having a big old girly (and guy-y) fashion conversation with people I both know personally and don't.

And I realize that a lot of people who either are in fashion/design school or are graduates spend their time reading my little product/fashion rants and raves (which, by the way, makes my day. And month. And year). I've been getting a lot of questions over the past few years about fashion design courses, grad schools (not like I know much about that, but I'll be able to tell you all in a bit), freelance work and jobs.
In no way am I saying I am some guru who just imparts wisdom and information to the masses.
I'm still young, and in no way have I 'made it' in any way that my Life Check List prescribes.
I realize that there are some many experiences that I have gone through that have taught me a LOT. And I want to share some stuff with you guys, especially people in and around my field.
This is not a rant, just a post I feel like I need to make to be able to help you guys make better choices. If you want to disregard this and make new mistakes, PLEASE DO. No one ever learns, otherwise. I, for one, listened to no one about anything, made some really interesting choices and ended up going WTF after most of them. It's okay. At least it helped me make this blogpost :P

Where I am now: Now, I graduated in 2014, and I've held only one proper day job and an couple of internships, so no, the job market is not my area of expertise :P. 

So, over the past 5 years, studying and working (sorta) in fashion, graphics and illustration, this is what I've learnt.

1. Always set your boundaries and terms before a job starts.

    This is something that I think I totally had the wrong end of the stick for. I've been freelancing in some way or the other since I was 15-16. And I realized that the jobs that usually go the best, are the ones where a timeline, direction (if it's an art or illustration job) and pay is discussed before you even open the Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop/whatever else window. This means that your employer has allocated some sort of budget towards this job, and knows when he/she wants it. Don't go into a job over enthusiastically and then sit and whine when the payment is late when nothing has been discussed before hand. If you can get them to write an email, so that it's all in writing, nothing like it. 
There are a lot of people who do not take design grads seriously, because it isn't an 'academic' field. Make sure there's clarity BEFORE the job. It's very hard to negotiate after it, because people change what they've said, say 'See, we never discussed that...'. And will say they'll get back to you and never will. If you're an employer and you've ever done this, shame on you. But design/art peeps - don't set yourself up for this. 

2. Graphics are not a joke, and also, should not be done for free just because you said you find drawing fun/easy.

  I am lucky enough to have worked, and hopefully work even more in the future, at something that I find extremely enjoyable. Fashion and Illustration are things that I do not find to be work at all. This doesn't mean that any of you should work for free, just because people know you've converted your hobby into a career. You still have bills to pay!

3. Freelance doesn't mean free.

This does not mean however, that you do not have the right to help your friends/family if they want some stuff done for free. Remember, the skill set you possess is yours alone, and if you want to use your powers for the good of mankind a.k.a free work, then so be it. Some random startup/employer cannot come to you and go, 'Hey, but you did their stuff for free? Come on, man. Not cool!' and expect you to extend everyone the same courtesy. I've personally done a lot of free work, and regret none. I do it out of love, or friendship, or because I know the company simply cannot pay me. And this cannot happen every single time, or I can never pay my parents back for anything. And I'll be financially independent when I'm 80.
4. 'We're a startup, we can't really afford to pay you this time. Maybe next time?'

   I get it. Startups are on a tight budget. It's probably a lot of money out of your own pocket/borrowed cash. But never employ someone unless they understand YOUR situation and offer to help you out at a reduced rate, or for free. That is completely the decision of the artist/designer. And they have the right to reject the job, also. Don't promise them an amount, then say sorry, no can do because we're broke right now. Your credibility will go down to 0. And honey, there will BE no next time.

5. Legalities and shit.

    No company is allowed to alter/use your graphics for something else other than what they've paid for. Especially alter. This also means they can't SELL your graphics. Sharing AI/source files involve an extreme amount of trust. So don't be an *insert explicit here*, employers. It's illegal, but it's very hard for someone to prove that that heavily altered thing on some other site was theirs initially. So don't expect justice or compensation. You can only hope that the person on the other end has work integrity.

6. Don't let your employers take you for a ride.

    So let me lay it down for you. For whatever reason - *cough* media - fashion designers are looked at as a bunch of bimbos who have trust funds (and therefore don't need to be paid for work), an IQ of about 20, are confused by big words and party day in day out. 

People who are just starting out at work - make sure you get the respect you deserve. But also make sure you actually earn it. There are a lot of employers who will really pile on the work just because they want to see how well you perform under pressure. And when you prove yourself, it's smooth sailing. They know what they're doing. If they keep doing it because they can, and just want to extract even more work out of you, they're just being unfair. Know the difference. Always know who you're working for, and don't let people cloud your judgement just because they had a bad experience at a certain place.

7. Having said that, don't expect a 6 figure salary at your first, second or even third job.

    In a field like this, experience really is invaluable. It's all about on the job learning. Make sure you take the best things you can from every company you work with and never stop learning. You're not going to turn into Anna Wintour in a year.

8.. Lastly. Don't be afraid to quit.

    If you're in a bad job, where you're treated badly, and are not given recognition for your work ( 'It's all for the company' , 'there is no I in team', etc), and are not being given a decent pay for what you're doing, do not be afraid to quit. I am not encouraging you to be a quitter.  If you don't like your situation, change it. But only after you have done EVERYTHING you could to make it work.

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