The company you keep
Now from personal experience I’ve found that I was the most productive when I had energetic/creative or interesting people around me. Even if they aren’t in the same creative field as myself, their perspectives really help me think outside of my comfort zone. And as we all know (or are learning) design is about pushing the boundaries of both your imagination and (sometimes) the software you use.
So with whom do you hang out with?
I hang out with such a mashup of people its scary. On a regular basis I hang out with motion designers, DP’s, editors, student directors, UN web developers, Apple retail employees, Japanese teachers, hip hop directors, digital media strategists, actors, audio engineers, shooters, etc… so naturally my crowd is super diverse but one things is a constant among us … ambition.
Yes ambition. They all want to be the best, make cool shit, work on features, etc … they all want to progress and evolve. They are all their own worst critics and lastly they help me evolve every time I work with them.
How do they stack up?
The caliber of people I work/hang with is all over the board. Some of them are just starting and for lack of a better work … they suck … for now. Some are on par with my skills and we evolve and grow together. And lastly there are a few monsters of the industry that I talk to that just blow me away in talent and knowledge but they help me a lot and they give me a goal of what I want to be.
Choose your friends carefully … well kinda
You can’t pick who your friends are, and you shouldn’t really have to but I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that your friends should elevate you to the next level, never hold you back. I’m very blessed that everyone in my life supports me a lot and they have helped me successful so far.
But to answer the real question
I think it’s extremely important to find people that inspire or motivate you regardless of what skillset or art talent they have (or don’t). I would recommend that you find people that are better than you so you get a goal. Find people whom are on your level so you can evolve together. Finally find people who are “below” you and help them reach their goals … don’t be a dick. Sharing your knowledge shows how much you really know and also one day that guy/girl might be helping you rock a project.
Here we are for round 2! First I would to say thank you for all the people who e-mailed me. I’m very glad that people liked my first article and that they found the information useful. The intention of the last article (which can be found here) was to help people who are just starting out. Unfortunately when I was starting out I didn’t have as many resources at my disposal. And god knows I would have killed for some direction years ago.
Anyways moving on like I stated in an earlier post I have been receiving a boatload of e-mails and the most common question was about billing. Another thing that is a huge pain in the ass when you start freelancing is your cost.
So this is a small rundown on what to charge if you are a motion graphics artist, 3d animator and editor in a major city. Please read the disclaimer below:
Now understand that I’ve worked in NYC and LA (not to brag or sound like a prick) so the numbers that I’ll be discussing might not hold up in a smaller city … This discussion is a GUIDELINE TO WHAT TO CHARGE, not “Hello this is my fee because this guy said so”
Now the first rule of fight club …
is never talk about fight club. Don’t go around making your rates know to the average Joe. Posting your rates on your website is a very poor move. That information is to be shared with producers, CD’s and comptrollers. Also discussing your rates with other artist’s is also regarded as unprofessional.
Scenario: Say your on a freelance team of 4 working on a project and you guys somehow get to talking about pay … Your say your making 100 a day while Joe Blow is making 300 a day for the same job. You’ll probably freakout *end scenario*
Now either your pissed because he’s getting more money and that could affect you’re working relationship. Another consequence is your producer, CD, etc could find out that your bitching about money and VOILA … instant way to make them never want to call you again.
Not all jobs are created equal
Now the technical knowledge required to do certain jobs definitely merits a better pay. So the guy/girl that knows how to program dynamic fluid and particle systems will earn more than an editor. In the scheme of things the order goes like (cheapest to most expensive)
I’m only going to cover these jobs since 90% of the people reading this fall into these categories.
Just tell me the numbers already!!!!!
There is no magic number. Every job isn’t equal. Now realistically you can charge whatever you want. If the client will pay it then shame on them for paying an arm and a leg. Now realistically if you’re just starting out, 25 bucks an hour seems fair (35 for the Animator and 3d generalist). Don’t bid on a job and ask for like 500 bucks a day unless you’re a rockstar. Also trial and error helps alot. Bid on enough jobs and you’ll quickly realize what people will pay for.
Wow I can feel everyone disappointment from here!
Unfortunately there isn’t a real answer for this question. Every job is unique and it takes a “x” amount of time and requires “x” skill so remember that if your starting out don’t come out the gate billing super high sums of money. Rule of thumb if your questioning what your billing is too high, odds are it probably is.
I’ve been really busy with my weekend move (thank god that’s over haha) so I hope to have the “How much to charge” article done tomorrow or wednesday. Have a good valentines day!
How much to charge out of the gate!
Lately I have been receiving a boatload of e-mails and the most common question (about 75% of the emails haha) was about billing. Another thing that is a huge pain in the ass when you start freelancing is your cost.
What am I worth? How much should I charge for this? etc
I will give you guys (and girls) a small rundown how much you should charge if you are a motion graphics artist (I’ll also touch on editors) in a major city. I can’t account for smaller town and cities since the caliber of work might not be as high.
With my schedule being a busy as it is I hope to have this out by Friday
The most notorious question in the creative industry. Last night I was going through my e-mail and I came across a name I haven’t seen in a while. It was one of the interns I had when I was out in California. He started with the usual “hey how are you?” “I just graduated” blah blah blah and then he said he wanted to know how to get into freelancing.
Unfortunately I sat at my computer for about 2 hours writing and re-writing my response. Sadly I couldn’t give him an answer, or at least the answer that I wanted to give him.
Ask anyone in the creative, design, animation or motion graphics industry and he or she will tell you … every scenario is different. I wanted to give him a perfect, step-by-step answer and I can’t … realistically I don’t think anyone can. I remember the time when I struggled for work and now I want to give someone a chance, just like I was given a chance years ago.
Jessica Hische wrote a blog about this a couple weeks back and this is the best way to put it (I’ll put a link at the bottom)
because what works for one person does not necessarily work for all people.
This is absolutely correct … I have never heard of any of my freelancing buddies getting work the same way. Every story is different. Everyone has a different background. Hell I know a guy that went to school in Kansas and he received a degree in theater but now he is one of the most successful 3d freelancers I’ve ever met.
So in this diatribe is my advice on getting work if you’re a video editor/motion graphics artist or 3d animator:
BE COOL BABY
The creative game is one that requires a cool head, the ability to react to a situation and not “freak-the-fuck-out!”. Being cool both personally and professionally will be huge in getting work. Realistically, would you want to work with someone who is a total ass?
I’m notorious for being very social and when the job is done I want to celebrate with the men and women that made it all possible. Having drinks, dinner, playing putt putt (hey don’t knock it haha), etc and building personal relationships with editors, directors, producers, CD’s, etc is not only a great way to expand your friend base but realistically it will make them want you to come back.
Once I took the head a studio (that will remain un-named) out the dinner just to introduce myself … I made it very clear from the beginning that I was a freelancer but the dinner wasn’t about getting work but just meeting the people in the community … We are now good friends and ever so often he’ll throw me a job, but he constantly invites me out for drinks with other producers and directors
Also build relationships with other people in your field. I have freelance buddies that give me work and anytime I have too much on my plate I hand stuff off to them. Also your friends will know people you don’t and they’ll be able to introduce you to other studios that might require your services.
Makes sure your comfortable as yourself (i.e. how you dress and act) … in the design world I’ve never seen a real 9-5 week. If your unable to get along with people, those 16 hour days or 3-day crash sessions may feel like an eternity.
PROMOTE THYSELF or WRECK THYSELF
Rule number one of getting work is having a medium that people can use to see your work, therefore they’ll want to hire you. And I can’t think of anyplace better than the internet. SO GET YOUR SELF A WEBSITE! And once you have said website unless you are a graphic designer don’t bedazzle the hell out of it. People like to see the information in a clean and organized fashion.
This I hoped last night was a no-brainer, but tons of people still don’t have websites. That right there is a recipe for disaster. So do yourself a favor go to vimeo get an account (its free) and load some videos … then go to squarespace (costs money but is totally worth it), wordpress or tumblr (both are free) and link up your stuff. It’s not rocket surgery. The most important trait to have in a portfolio site is the ability to update the damn thing … chances are once you start working you’ll be putting everything you work on, on the internet.
DEMO REELS & RESUMES … THE TRUTH
Most of the time studios don’t ask for a resume … the reel, the rate and the availability is what they need to know. And it’s all about the reel baby. Nick Campbell at Greyscale Gorilla did a great segment about this (you can find that here: Say NO to DVD Demo Reels!) about sending in DVD Demo Reels and resumes at random. He also has a great post about how the length of demo reels (http://greyscalegorilla.com/blog/2010/07/why-your-demo-reel-should-be-really-really-short/). Since he does such a great job at this, I’ll let him give you the low-down on that:
I have a resume that every year I update but 95% of the studios I work at have never asked for one. But the format is short, simple and to the point. Studios don’t have time to read a mass of dribble. I myself have thrown away resumes when I had a studio gig simply because it took too long to get the required info. A novel isn’t required for companies to see your skills. Also make sure you keep it too ONE page … I’ve seen wayyyyyyyyyyy too many that break a page … if your resume is legitimately 2+ pages long odds are they’ll call you for work not the other way around.
My current resume has my past STUDIO and FREELANCE experience … I don’t include any other irrelevant jobs purely on the fact that studios/production houses could care less, My skills and software certs, my rates and my reel … oh and my name haha. If they like the simplified info that you layout for them they’ll respond. Just give them what THEY need, not what you want them to know.
Craigslist is NOT the answer
Craigslist is great if you’re looking for an apartment or a coffee table but not for a job. That is the number one place if you want to get screwed over big time. Rob Loukotka (fringefocus.com or see below) had a great statement about this:
When looking for shitty clients, Craigslist is a great place to start. The ‘gigs’ section is a virtual goldmine for the bad work you’re looking for. Be sure to look for posts that say: “Student Needed” or “This will be great for your portfolio!” ALL CAPS posts are exceptional resources.
And the man couldn’t be more right. I’ve taken a few craigslist jobs and the results are as followed:
If your going to use the web to find work use the right sites.
Popular design and motion graphics sites generally have a jobs listing section. And if the site is popular odds are employers, producers and directors go there.
STRENGTHEN YOUR LIVER
Now this part might seem like a joke but its not. The amount of work, time, blood, sweat and tears that go into the design jobs you see companies put out is extreme. And after a 3 day C4d/AE bender I know plenty of people that want to go party and celebrate another successful challenge conquered. So most of the people I’ve meet love to drink (I myself am one of them haha) so learn to be social at bars and restaurants, but don’t overdo it … the last thing you want is to be super drunk in front of your peers/employers. Now if they get you that drunk than that’s a totally different story.
BE NOT AFRAID
Lastly don’t be afraid to take a hit the first couple of jobs. Unfortunately it is kind of a rite of passage.
If your right out of school, don’t charge what the senior guys charge. If you walked into a studio and wanted 100 bucks an hour odds are you’ll be laughed at until you have some years under you. This is where having a day-job is key.
Also don’t be afraid to say no … just because your new, companies might try to squeeze you for less money … remember if they have already invested in you, they’re not going to fire you unless your a dick about being paid shit. Be polite but firm and if push comes to shove you might have to yield, but that director now knows you have some balls.
Also ask your co-workers for advice once you start working … If they are total assholes then avoid them, but if you meet some people and they’re cool, hit them up for some tips over a beer. People who have lived and breathed the life can give the best advice.
THANK YOU FOR LISTENING TO MY RAMBLE
Odds are I rambled alot during this, so if you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me. Obviously we only scratched the tip of the piece of frost that is the very top of the iceberg known as “freelancing” but hopefully this should fill in some of the gaps.
I wish you the best of luck
P.S - Some of the blogs that I read (trust me I got 50+ more haha), and you should: