Thank you for the work.

I recently shot a spot for which we cast a few adult actors. The actors were fantastic, and couldn't have been nicer people. So my heart broke a little when we made the hard choice to cut their footage from the final spot. It was the right creative call – it made the spot better. But I felt sad knowing their work (and their compensation) ended on our shoot day. It's all part of the business – this kind of thing happens all the time – but it's a rough part.  

On set, when the actors wrapped and made their exits, one of them stopped at video village and said, "seriously, y'all, thank you for the work." And it gave me pause. 

Advertising folks love to complain about work. There's too much work, too tight deadlines, too many hours, too few bodies to do it. Complaining is negative and contagious and it makes it hard to roll up your sleeves and just do the thing after you've wasted fifteen minutes bemoaning the task at hand. Complaining is toxic.

So here we are in the ad world, awash in projects to whine about, and this woman is stopping to thank us for offering her work – the chance to put some hours in and earn a paycheck. To earn a living. Because that – that's something to be grateful for. 

Work is hard. As I type this sentence I can practically hear my dad Frank saying, "that's why they call it work!" And he's right (as he often is). It's hard. It's frustrating and tiring and it's very easy to get caught up in wishing it was easier to do all that we do day in and day out.

But the doing, day in and day out. It deserves more credit than we disgruntled ad folk would like to give it. Having a place to go and a job to do, day in and day out. Putting in hard hours and consistent effort and bringing home some bacon. That's not easy to come by for a lot of people. Earning. Day in, day out. (And to be one of the lucky stiffs who likes what she does!)

On the best days I'm thinking about this, and even the slog of completing time sheets is belied by a quiet joy in doing productive work. In earning. On a bad day, I'm not even going near my time sheets. Always, I'm trying to shift my focus, to be mindful of the value of a steady job. And to do mine with a grateful heart, time sheets and all.

Thank you for the work.

Honest to blog

A close friend of mine (also a designer) recently found herself thrust unceremoniously into the job market after a seven-year turn as an in-house creative. Due to budget cuts and the increasing challenge to justify the cost of her team, her department was eliminated, and so she is back on the hunt, revising her portfolio and attending interviews, the determined piggy on a mission to find her truffle, a new creative home.

She posted about a recent interview on Facebook and a friend of hers replied thusly (and I’m paraphrasing here):

“Here’s some interview advice. Tell them what they want to hear. I spent years being honest in interviews before I finally wised up and got hired.”

Um. What?

Unfortunately Facebook has yet to invent a button that elbows someone in the ribs, so I made due with an indirect comment about my own interview advice: be yourself.

Not your whole, uncensored self. An interview is not the time to air your grievances about a relationship gone awry or bitch and moan about the weather / your bunion / your recurring tooth loss dreams. But you should be honest about who you are professionally, what kind of role you’re looking for and the skills you’ll bring to bear. 

Interviewing is kinda like trying on clothes. You’re looking for a good fit – if possible, a great one. And you really can’t return that new full-time gig as easily as you can an ill-fitting little black dress. And yeah, finding the job that fits can be five times as challenging as finding said dress – but that’s part of the process, especially for a creative.

You won’t always get hired, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you’re offered (and accept) the wrong job based on fibs shared in an interview, you might be missing out on the right gig waiting around the corner. Worse still, you could be damaging your professional reputation by faking your way into a gig you don’t deserve. You won't be remembered as a great vice-executive-head-bitch-in-charge, but you may be remembered as a liar. 

Be truthful. Be yourself. And be patient. It might take ten, twelve, fourteen interviews for your particular skill set to meet the needs of an employer – and for them to meet yours. Maybe even three interviews with thirteen people over the course of seven months. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) And not having a job or the right job is a scary place to be.

But that’s ok. Be scared. Use that fear to fuel your redoubled efforts. Take the crappy side gig and pay the bills. Work on your portfolio. Get feedback and revise. Keep applying, searching, showing up. 

And hang in there. Good things come to those who wait – and those who work their arse off for them – and those who tell the truth.

Honest. 

Gone postal

One of the things I love about the holiday season is that it’s an excuse to make everything special. You bust out your fancy dishes, you put your big-girl heels on. And if you’re lucky, or simply an optimist, everything around you shines a little brighter than usual. As a designer, that’s how I want everything to be, always.

It vexes me when things we have to use (tissue boxes, sock packaging, etc.) miss an opportunity to come packaged in fabulousness. There’s no reason that basic necessities can’t pack a little style punch (or at the very least, nice typography). I grumble about this on most trips to the grocery store, and always, always when I visit the post office.

I’m big on holiday snail mail, and it makes me happy to consider every last bit of what I send out to family and friends, from the cards themselves (which I usually make) to the pen I use to painstakingly hand-write addresses. The one time a year I send mail to everyone I know, I want it to be extra-special.

Then I come face to face with the USPS collection of meh seasonal postage stamps… and… ugh. The mind reels.

I’m all for a cute gingerbread house in a pinch, but I’m always amazed and dismayed at the dearth of well-designed, contemporary options in the world of postage stamps. So this year I was delighted to discover the custom postage stamp option on Zazzle. Design your own! Ingenious. All that stood between me and my dream stamp was the input of a PayPal password.

I’m the only one of my family (and most of my friends) who lives in southern California, so I wanted my special stamps to have a little LA flavor. And if they happened to show off our sunshiny climate, well, that would be ok, too. I used to walk to a bus stop for a New York commute in the snow uphill both ways, so I’m totally entitled to rub it in.

I am, admittedly, obsessed with the end result. Zazzle is bananas. My stamps arrived right on time and the color and printing were spot-on. Best of all, they fall into my favorite category of everything: non-ugly.

HappyHolidays_Stamps.jpg

I may have accidentally created a custom-postage-stamp-ordering monster.  Hopefully, she is the lovable Christmas-muppet kind of monster, whose family embraces her eccentricities while refilling her spiked eggnog as her holiday dreams come true.

Cheers to a season of extra-special, all around. I am sending some to you, with a foxy-looking stamp.  

The hurrier I go...

the behinder I get.

These words were emblazoned on a cast iron trivet in my GrandMa Dolores’s kitchen. It looked something like this. It was one of a thousand little tchotchkes, many cheekily espousing the woes of “women’s work” and all impeccably dusted. For some reason this one caught my attention, but it wasn’t until recent years that I finally got it.

When work starts piling up like snowdrifts on my doorstep, my first instinct is to panic. I want to move as quickly as possible to check stuff off my growing to-do list and in my haste, inevitably make mistakes that have to be corrected, stealing more precious minutes away. Much like my darling dog chasing her tail, I end up moving ridiculously fast and accomplishing nothing.

One can only spin in circles for so long before abandoning this exercise in futility. So I developed my tried and true, GMD-inspired method for powering through a massive workload: slow down. This might seem counterintuitive – when you’re trying to get somewhere fast, why on earth would you move slower? But it works. I slow down. I take a bunch of deep breaths – a cliché because they actually work. I make a list and prioritize according to the scariest deadline. And I begin. Tackling one thing at a time with focus and determination is a hell of a lot more effective than trying to do fifty things at once, to varying degrees of success.

As end-of-year deadlines and holiday projects threaten my sanity, I’ma slow down. Breathe deep. Make two trips. Dot my i’s. Put one foot in front of the other. And get it all done at a pace that won’t invite an ulcer. 

And if all else fails, and I stumble to gain speed, and I forget Lewis Carroll’s poignant observation, I’ll take another page out of GMD’s book, and eat some chocolate. 

Local Love

After a longer-than-intended hiatus from blogging, I’m delighted to return with a freshly made-over site and a new mission to share the journey of my design-inspired life.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of welcoming some friends from Austin to LA-la land to celebrate the LA launch of their company, Localeur.

  Localeur LA design by Chase White

Localeur LA design by Chase White

Localeur is a social city guide that curates the best places to eat, drink and #experiencelocal according to a select group of handpicked, passionate locals who love their cities. Unlike Yelp, which is bogged down by disgruntled reviewers covering everything from mom-and-pop shops to IHOP franchises, Localeur showcases only local businesses loved by real, live locals. It’s the digital equivalent of tapping a savvy-looking stranger on the shoulder to ask where a gal can get a potent Old Fashioned around here. And it’s awesome.

I recently debuted my first posts as an LA Localeur – check them out to discover the best places to kickstart your day in Mar Vista and Culver City’s best spots for a dog-friendly lunch. More to come soon from this urban explorer and runny egg enthusiast, here, there, and everywhere.