Monday, June 16, 2008

Odd Jobs, Part One of _____

As an illustrator I am finally at a point where, for the most part, the jobs I do are mostly in line with my ultimate goals as an artist. In other words, I do actually turn down a few jobs, which in the past year include house sketches for a real estate web site, graphics banners for a DJ, and jobs whose time to pay ratio would work out to about $4 an hour. Really.

'Twas not always so, (and who's to say what lies ahead). Initially an artist has to take any job that is even remotely related to art. At first if the client even knows how to spell "art" you're pointed in the right direction.

Let's look back on one of those first freelance jobs...

After graduating with my art degree, I thought moving near one of the art capitals of the world might be a good idea. So off we drove to Connecticut so as to live near New York City. When I finally broke free from the warehouse job that I was forced to get upon arriving (as I couldn't find anything art related), I spent some time down in "the city" trying to promote my work. One day I went alone to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and sat in a large open area, surrounded by Greek statues (or were they Roman copies?). I was sketching one of them when an older man approached me and asked if he could buy me lunch and talk about my art. Free lunch and a potential connection? Of course!

Well, it turned out this man was a Brooklyn-based dentist, and he had some grand scheme concerning a dental invention, which was basically a robotic arm that worked inside the patient's mouth. There at the table he proceeded to arrange his silverware and other objects to resemble his invention. Before I knew it I had committed to come to his office in the near future to draw up the plans. I went home with a pit in my stomach, wishing I had firmly but kindly said "um, no thanks"! But I hadn't, so I found myself in Brooklyn some time during the coming week.

In a way it was still kind of exciting- going to Brooklyn for the first time in my life to draw for a mad dental equipment inventor (he wasn't so mad, but it makes for a good story). I remember going in and briefly meeting his wife, who seemed to me very sad, and who disappeared into the back. I began my labors as an artist while the dentist showed me his prototype on his poor assistant. Yet all this time I knew that I'd be telling him that this would be our only session. When that time came he put a lot of energy into trying to change my mind, but eventually sadly sent me on my way after offering to pay me for the work that I had done that day. In retrospect I should have made the break before coming that first time, but it can be hard to say "no" to someone who wants to use my skills, even if they don't REALLY include dental instrument design...

More to come...

4 comments:

Alex Hall said...

This is delightfully bizarre.

Do you know if there's a way to switch on RSS feeds for your blog? I'd like to follow this with Google Reader.

Michael Phipps said...

Hi Alex, thanks for asking. If you scroll down to the very bottom there is a link "subscribe to posts". That should do it!

Jeremiah said...

Mike, now that you have made it big, I have a freelance job for you. I'll even pay upwards of $4.50 an hour!

LaurieW said...

Heh, heh, heh...can't wait for part 2 :)