The Happy Custom Framer Rant

I wrote Earning about a dollar more than minimum wage per hour when the Canadian dollar is worth a quizillion dollars on world markets today in my last post. And yes in is hard because it is the only negative aspect to the job I do four to five days per week.

I work as a custom picture framer at an art and craft supply store. I love my job. I frame original art, photographs, memorabilia, prints and certificates. I cut glass, matting and get to use air tools! Custom framing is an old trade of mine that I learned shortly after graduating from high school in 1991. I apprenticed as a picture framer for a local photographer for a few months to help with the Christmas rush. Later after graduating college in 1996 I began working as a custom picture framer for a local artist framing his prints and the odd job that came through the door. I work their for 14 months full-time.

Both of those times I earned about a dollar more than minimum wage. The thing is this, minimum wage has NOT risen a dollar in the last ten years. Ten years ago in 1997 minimum wage was at or around $6.30. Today minimum wage is $7.30 in New Brunswick. Go figure? Ten years… 10¢ a year it increased. Sad but very very true.

As for where I presently work, it is an OK job as far as jobs go. I work with 90% women which is awesome. I get to avoid the general public as the frame shop is it’s own entity. I work with the public but only those who want custom framing or those who believe we are the customer service department even though the whole back wall is covered with a thousand frame molding examples.

I get a good discount on art supplies. Yay! Enough said.

The biggest reason I chose to make a switch from graphic design to picture framing is simple; I burnt out BIG TIME from stress, relentless deadlines and working 50-70 hour weeks, week in – week out. This all lead to addiction. That lead to recovery and this Blog.

About two years ago I decided to continue freelancing, accepting the odd contract job here and there. That has been good and not so good as I completely flipped out earlier this year doing a small job for Scott. Maybe it was all the other insanities going on around me and needless to say Scott and I came to an agreement and all is good between us.

Thinking back to when I began college I chose Applied Arts over Fine Arts. I didn’t think I could make any money as an fine artist. As an applied artist I thought I could, because p.e.o.p.l.e, ADVERTISING will never disappear! Today I wish ADVERTISING would die. I wish I could stomp on it until all it’s edged frayed and every coat of varnish and 4 color press ink faded into smithereens. Your head can get damaged by all this when you are working against your heart year after year after year. I don’t care how good I was at it and at one time I was very good. I was best when sipping GHB hourly, sadly, gladly…

I don’t remember a time when graphic design didn’t make me want to puke. God. These words I’m writing feel cleansing yet they read harsh and unforgiving. I don’t want to forgive the Advertising industry. Thanks to you, I can analyze an ad, know why it works or doesn’t work, who the target market is and how to fix it if it needs fixing.

My ex listened to me every time the TV was on and a commercial aired. This design lingo would spit out of my mouth about what font they were using, colour scheme jargon, spit blargh… I couldn’t read the newspaper anymore. I could spot misaligned paragraphs, kerning and leading errors, copy mistakes and spelling errors. How could I be so good at something and have it make me sick to my stomach and worse be so scared to apply for a big professional job in that industry.

I’ve uploaded a measly amount of design work to this blog as I still retain some anger not at anyone in particular. Think Adbusters and what they stand for. I like them.

Money should never be a driving force in anything you do. It will freaking kill you. And when you are an artist trying to be a designer placed in the wrong communication firm can lead to your death or timely demise in that industry.

There are many Design jobs that come up here in New Brunswick and I’m qualified to do most of them and most of them would pay two to three maybe four times more than what I earn as a custom picture framer. I’m just not there anymore. For one thing I can’t sit still for EIGHT hours a day. I need to move. Out West I applied for one particular job. I got an interview. During the interview she said she received 400 applications. I ask her how many people she has interviewed. She says she’s interviewed 10. I happened to be one of those ten. I get called back for the second interview and then the third only to be told she hired the woman who had a kid. Not having kids as a young woman is another rant for another time.

I have to laugh right now. Hahahahahahahahaha Such is life eh?

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7 thoughts on “The Happy Custom Framer Rant

  1. good good good stuff, and it needs to be said/heard more. this was my favourite:

    “Money should never be a driving force in anything you do. It will freaking kill you.”

    well said!

  2. I woke up this morning Heidi thinking OMG What did I write last night on my Blog and just re-read the post and it isn’t all bad. We need to rant and rave occasionally to get to that place that feels “right” again.

    Thanks Heidi for your kind words :)

  3. Interesting how you mention a link between work, stress, and addiction. Maybe this happens to a lot of people, although in a less extreme way.

    Have you ever taken the Myers Briggs Type Indicator testing? Just wondering if you consider yourself to be more of an introvert than an extrovert.

  4. I am an introvert. I need a lot of time alone.

    I believe this does happen to many people. It certainly wakes one up to reality when it does happen. People don’t become the way they are overnight and they can’t become who they want to be instantly either.

    It is similar to weight. You don’t put weight on overnight and one can’t expect to get rid of it overnight unless one went for liposuction… Then that would mean that liposuction is akin to drugs; they only fix the problem or issue for a short time.

  5. Asia sounds nice overall range. Although I would have to question your stress level as I’ve read many of your previous posts discussing being stressed and overworked. Perhaps your stress is less there than when you were living here in Canada. :)

    Free… sounds nice.

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