We are all guilty of the thought that says, “If they would only do it my way…” it would all be good. I thought it might be cool to be Mussolini for a day (without the bad fascist stuff) but I have an aversion to large crowds that hang folks up by their thumbs. More to the point, I get lost in my own blinded lane that eventually intersects with your blinded lane. But, there comes a point where the golden rule must apply.

I live in small town where the median income is pretty high. With that type of citizen, you get some benefits like the prioritization for safety (law enforecment), a semi-high degree of education of your fellow citizen, and an appreciation of good schools for your kids. And yes, the food is kinda bland. What you also get is a supreme sense of entitlement, narrow, republican-esque “my-way-or-the-highway,” Tommy Bahama wearing, cigar-smoking, misogynistic frat boy, (and for the women) former cheer leader/beauty queen neighbor that thinks the real battle we are about to fight is not with the Demos in the senate but with an invading Negro Army of Oakland.

But I digress. I was talking about navigating, not the dysfunction of my fellow citizens. Well, maybe a little. I recall, when my son was six, I attended his school Halloween fair. The police department provided a representative officer and car for our amusement(?) I asked the female officer how she liked working in our small town and she said that it was harder than working in other, less wealthy, crime-ridden towns. I asked how that could be possible. She said that when she has the onerous and dangerous task of pulling over a local for running a stop sign, she usually gets “You cannot be serious. Do you know who I am? You are a public servant. I am your employer.” She said that in the “‘hood,” folks there know what a cop is and for the most part, respect their role.

The other day I was shopping at my local Safeway and the woman in front of me had used a standard, large shopping cart. Aside from the fact that she was a dead ringer for Lovey Howell (see: Gilligan’s Island, Thurston Howell III’s wife), she picked up her bag and left her cart in the checkout lane for someone else (me) to put away. I would not let this stand. I strongly reminded her that she had “forgotten” her cart. She turned and looked at me as if I had said something in Chinese. She then turned and left. I asked the cashier if this was a common occurrence and she assured me that it was.

My point in all of this is the application of the golden rule. I realize when I get cut off in traffic, ignored by an attorney, line-jumped at Peet’s, that my blood pressure is more important than your selfish act, but there is a fundamental reaction that gets kicked in from the magnetic center of my amygdala that says it may be a better if I kill you now than later. And waiting will make this worse. It’s hard to ignore. If we just applied the golden rule across the board, the world would be awesome, and when I say awesome, I mean AWESOME!

Sigmund Freud said (sort of) that the goal of talk therapy is to change “Hysterical misery into common unhappiness.” I can’t wait, literally, for that day to arrive.

Go A’s!

September 19th, 2013


I am often asked how I price my work. On the commercial side, some assignments are single items and some are multiple. You may think that the single item may be priced lower than the multiple, but depending on the requirement of the client, the single item may require a great deal of retouching while the multiple may not.

Some clients want a break down based on a per subject basis, while others want the estimate to reflect time spent/dollars per hour. I can and do provide both, if asked. Other variables can include location v. in-studio, travel to a specific location (time + miles) and any special equipment that the assignment requires such as props and related equipment.

As I began my career as a graphic designer, the AIGA publishes a pricing and ethics book on a semi regular basis that I would suggest you get. Even if it’s an older edition, the issues it addresses are applicable to today’s questions. I know from experience that there is no one scale I can apply to all assignments. Many clients do not have the resources that others may. In the past, I have “sized up” a client by their apparent “wealth,” as well as asking what the end use of my work will be. If the client is planning to run ads in national publications, the price is obviously going to be greater than if it was just for a local publication. You should always ask what the final use will be.

This brings up the issue of ownership, licensing and usage rights. I suggest that you get the AIGA Pricing and Ethical Practices manual to which I referred earlier. There are myriad way to address this, but one consistent trend I have noticed is that most inexperienced clients that do not typically buy my services assume that they own the images. And if I don’t take the time to educate them, before, not after, the assignment is complete, bad feelings always arise.

Here again, I gauge what I believe the client will tolerate and ask for it. I do not hold a hard line because some book says I should charge a certain rate. I do have ab obligation to raise all boats in my field, but not if I believe the client is unreasonable and if I want to pay my rent this month.

January 5th, 2013

Dogs in the Workplace

I work in a building that houses a dozen other businesses. The other day I noticed one of the tenants bringing in a dog to his studio. I thought, “I have a dog, maybe I should do that, too.”

I have noticed, over the years, that I react to other people’s dogs exactly like I do other people’s kids. I have kids. I love my kids, but I do not necessarily like, much less love, your kids. If I find a solid reason to like either of them (kid or dog), I consider it a serious commitment. I find my wife’s open, loving almost excited response to other people’s dogs and kids odd and awe-inspiring. I hover in the bushes of suspicion before I risk my heart or hand.

I say this to illustrate my position that just because I love my dog, I will probably rarely bring her to my studio because I don’t want a client to have to love my dog, too. That’s a lot to ask, even as mellow and sweet as she is.

Oh, I also don’t appreciate wait staff that kneels down next to my table to get my order. If your knees are bothering you, take some Advil.

I will continue to list “things I wish you would rather not do” in future posts on this page.

January 3rd, 2013

Obsessive Compulsive

I believe, in order to succeed in most self-run businesses, a slight touch of OCD is a good thing. I like an orderly environment, and I know (believe me, I have paid a lot to learn this) control is an illusion, just ask the good folks over there in Queens, NY after super storm Sandy. While I was watching “Beasts of the Southern Wild” last night, I caught myself thinking, “How can people live like this?” But after a bit, I got it. It’s impossible to be ready for everything, but a plan can be good. Forget the rest, just ride out the storm, and when it’s over, if I don’t make it, throw me in my boat and light my funeral pyre. Good plan.

I still think I need an obsessively clean and ordered environment.

January 1st, 2013