I have forgotten how to do it?

In 2001, around this time of year I left my last full time job. I didn’t really want to leave the job but it was either that or possibly commit some rather nasty but possibly very satisfying act against a person who was unfortunately my boss. That is another story and not for this forum.

I was a public servant and pretty dedicated. Possibly not the most efficient user of time and resources but nevertheless got the job done well within the time allocated and generally to the satisfaction of my clients.

This was over ten years ago now and since then I have spent a fair bit of time doing odd assorted jobs. Everything from picking vegetables to designing kitchens to looking after oldies to searching for a job. The light dawned on my one day in early 2003, one of those ‘ah ha’ moments that hit you and you wonder why it took so long. I needed to update my skills or get some new ones. I will briefly take you back to a day in about 1970 when I was working at the Government Printer in Kingston – a third year apprentice photoengraver – I was working on a couple of plates and the registration wasn’t working. Naturally being an apprentice I asked one of my tradies what was wrong and how could I get it right. The guy looked stumped which was pretty normal; anything out of the ordinary and he got out the old stumped look and suggested that I should work it out for myself.  The upshot if it all was that the artwork was wrong so I was told (apprentices were never asked) to go to the Graphic Artist’s Studio and ‘tell’ them to fix it.

Let me tell you, at the Gov there was an ‘upstairs’ and a ‘downstairs’ and never the twain etc. I was downstairs and the Graphic Artists were t’other. So, with most of my innards up around my chin somewhere (yes in those days I only had one chin) I mounted the stairs with the awe of an aspiring resident going to the Pearly Gates. Following the signs was easy, there was light up here, there were windows, there was carpet on the floor. Finally there were graphic artists, one of whom in rather a friendly fashion advised me that indeed he had made a little ‘blue’ and he would fix it post haste if I wanted to wait a bit. I watched in awe as these people created the wonderful stuff that  we downstairs called artwork or alternatively ‘more bloody work’, and was hooked. This is what I wanted to be when I grew up. Well, alas I never really grew up so I never really did get to be a graphic artist. I couldn’t draw either so I guess that put paid to my dream for good.

Well perhaps not, I bring you back to my ‘ah ha’ moment of a couple of paragraphs ago. I had been mucking around doing the Pedal Power newsletter for a couple of years and had a few compliments (none about my spelling I hasten to add). It seems that I might just be able to do this stuff after all. The computer has moved the goalposts as they say and levelled out the playing field.

Nobody would give me a job that I liked and that paid me money worth getting out of bed for so I decided that I would become a student. Off I trotted to CIT to discover that I could start off by doing a Desktop Publishing course and that the NSW Government would actually pay the bill. Great course and an excellent price so I said, ‘where do I sign?’ Sign I did and had a great few monts at the end of 2003 learning a bit about typesetting and image manipulation etc. I was hooked.

Roll on 2004 – it couldn’t come fast enough. At the end of January I started officially to fulfil my dream of nearly thirty five years. Some of my classmates were also in the Desktop Publishing cert course I did in the last semester of 2003 so settling in was pretty easy. I didn’t need to tie my play lunch money in the corner of my hanky because there wasn’t a lot of money for play lunch or anything else. Centrelink came to the party and paid me an allowance and I managed to get some odd jobs here and there. To cut a longs story short, the course of two years went by in a trice. December 2005 saw me graduate as a Graphic Designer and I was cast adrift to find my way in the world once again.

In spite of many attempts I couldn’t find work, I managed to land a job as a carer with a community care organisation which helped keep the wolf from the door but I simply couldn’t land a job as a designer. I was designing books for a publisher but that was only about two books a year and because he gave me my start I was charging way below the going rate. The solution was to go out on my own. So go out on my own I did and Ink Pot Graphic Design was born. Gradually I managed to pick up work but by I was just going backwards. I wasn’t marketing at all or when I did it was not successful. Slowly things improved until now I am managing to get a good flow of clients but I have a problem – I have forgotten how to work. Distractions abound and the old concentration wanes quickly so I am running on three cylinders.

I have got to do something about this or I will continue my career as a pauper to the grave.

I will let you know how I go.

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