Los Angeles InDesign User Group
Thursday, March 15, 2018
by Alvin Takamori
The Los Angeles InDesign User Group held its' March meeting in the Haag Recital Hall on the campus of El Camino College. This was a very well attended meeting thanks to an infusion of El Camino students. Our gratitude to Professor Joyce Dallal for her support.
The students were drawn by the very relevant topic of job seeking, or was it the class credit? Maybe it was the abundant spread of pizza, cake, and cookies provided by The Creative Group, who sponsored the meeting.
Julianne Wolfe and Sarah Pollock of The Creative Group, an employment agency especially for creatives, described what their agency does, what they are looking for in terms of talent and how to get in touch. They advised on resume tips, portfolio tips, software skills, and projects. They followed their presentation with a short Q&A and left their business cards on the table to be easily accessible after the event. TCG also brought salary guides to give attendees an idea of how much they should be making as a professional designer. Both Julianne and Sarah they look forward to attending again next year and providing more tips on how to be a marketable InDesign professional.
Jobs were the theme of the evening. It was the focal point of the talk by guest presenter Jonathan Levit. The program was promoted as a discussion for designers about, "getting a job." It's something Jonathan has had a lot of experience at. Multi-talented, he's had many different jobs: graphic designer, production designer, trainer, consultant, teacher, actor, magician, and who knows what else.
Early in his presentation, Levit dispelled the notion that there is a secret formula for creatives to follow in order to find work. What he could provide was his personal work experience and some of the lessons he learned.
One important lesson that Jonathan learned was to just say, "Yes!" When opportunities come along, accept them, even if they are things you are not comfortable doing. He related a story about an offer he received to speak before an audience of rocket scientists. At the time, he wasn't experienced with making presentations, let alone to such a highly intelligent group. Although he had reservations, he agreed to do it. The talk was well received and it led to future presentations to other groups.
Levit did the program with the scientists for free, but it led to paid jobs in the future. As he explained, you can take jobs for financial gain, but you can also take jobs for experiential gain. A job can be an opportunity to build a portfolio. He also pointed out that there are times to turn down a job offer. If you know you absolutely don't have the ability to do a job, you need to say, "No", but as much as possible, be open to saying, "Yes!"
Along the same theme of openness, Jonathan recommended having a diverse skill set. Don't just be a designer or a production artist. Do both. Become an Adobe Certified Expert. The test is not easy, but it's okay to fail. Some of the best lessons come from failure. At least be willing to try.
Next, Jonathan discussed working for a company versus freelancing. Working for a company can provide a more stable income and opportunities to work with a team. Freelancing can help to build a portfolio and provide more freedom.
Speaking of freedom, Jonathan has a personal philosophy of working efficiently. If you ever saw his talk about working efficiently in InDesgin, you know he takes this very seriously. The goal of working this way is to enjoy as much free time as possible, so that you can fish, or ski, and enjoy life. To make the point he recalled a job he took at a company to help them organize information that took a team of employees a long time to put together. He found ways to improve the process, so that fewer employees and less time was required to do the task. Eventually, he was the only one needed for the job, and then he made it so simple that anyone could do it, so he wasn't needed anymore. But he didn't regret it. His accomplishment became a selling point that he could promote for future work at other companies.
If you are freelancing, when it comes to deciding on your fees, Jonathan recommended charging enough so that, "you won't resent doing the job." Remember, sometimes experience has value. He told an anecdote about a job that he took working as a magician on a cruise line. His pay wasn't as important to him as the opportunity to travel.
This brought up another consideration when job hunting. Don't ignore your hidden talents. For Jonathan, his interest in magic turned into a job. Think about your abilities that seemingly don't fit the stereotype of what a graphic designer, or whatever job you're focused on, should have as a skill set. Those can become assets that lead you to a unique niche. Jonathan had created a website for himself as an actor. Other actors saw it and liked it, which led to jobs creating websites for actors. Think about your passions and joys. "What motivates you to wake up in the morning?" Those interests can lead to job opportunities.
After a break, LAIDUG Co-Manager DeShawn Burton, another person with wide-ranging job experience, joined Levit on the stage. They covered many different aspects of working in the creative field. One of the points that they covered is that knowledge is important. It prepares you for future opportunities. You want to, "Learn rules like a professional and break them like an artist." Another point was that as a freelancer you want to find a good tax person. A quality accountant is a valuable asset to any business. They also pointed out that local cities can be an important resource. They have small business services that you can consult. Another issue they addressed was about deciding whether to charge a project-based fee or an hourly fee. Think about how fast you work. if you are really efficient, you'll probably want to charge a project-based fee.
DeShawn and Jonathan reinforced some of the points Jonathan had made earlier. Don't shy away from failure because sometimes they teach you the best lessons. It's human nature to avoid the unknown and unfamiliar. But, to grow as a person and in your career, "get comfortable with the uncomfortable." Also, find what you enjoy and insert it into everything you do.
After the talk, as usual we held the raffle, and thanks to many sponsors, gave away a lot of valuable prizes. A highlight was that Professor Dallal, who bought a single raffle ticket, had the winning ticket for a year of Adobe Creative Cloud. But magnanimously, she deferred and gave someone else the chance to win this prize. Congratulations to all the winners!
Farthest Attendee Prize Winner
Mighty Deals—Rick Torres
Raffle Prize Winners
Adobe Creative Cloud. 12 month subscription—Amy Johnson
PDF2DTP from Markzware. 12 month subscription—Bryan Williams
Expo Creative Asset Manager for Mac from Insider Software—Robin Schiff
Font Agent Pro 8 from Insider Software—Robin Schiff
InMotion Hosting. Web hosting and free domain—Linley Degalado
DTP Tools Cloud for InDesign. 6 month subscription—Nancy Anne Fox
Adobe Stock. 15 image licenses—Gus Eckert
InDesign Magazine. 6 month subscription—Azenith Gueco
LA Web Professionals Group meeting tickets—Christie Brown, Lizeth Lopez, Jazmine Nam, Samuel O’Neal, Bryan Williams