Category Archives: work

Artist Tip #16 – Why on earth did you buy that?

Have you ever stuffed your cart so full of art supplies, paid for them, lugged them 1000 clicks across an international border only to be strip searched for stolen erasers!

View to the left

OK, I did buy a few bags full of paper, pens and other artist sundries while visiting New York City in the Spring of 1994 and we did get stopped by the border patrol on our way back across into New Brunswick, Canada. We had to take everything out of the van and report all that we did, bought and drew upon. Sadly I’ve never returned to the United States since then. 14 years passes rapidly when one is consumed with Chron’s Disease, going into remission, getting married, then divorced, succumbing to addiction only to recover and have your boyfriend leave you. My god.

Whilst those 14 years of joy and agony were, I lugged around an accumulated arsenal of artist materials. I drug them from Fredericton to Saint John, Saint John to Fredericton and back again only to fly and mail them out to Vancouver for five years where I resided and began drawing solely with black and occasionally red ink. I swore off pencil all together thinking it an unnecessary time consuming evil that could be cut from the creative process all together. And I began painting extra large wall paintings to break the cycle of fear of going big.

I bought fat black pens, phat black pens, skinny black pens, no name brand black pens and ultra-fine-grip no slip tip permanent eat your heart out black pens. I bought them all. I tried them all until they ran dry. At one point I was averaging two to three pens per week. That is a lot of drawing and writing folks.

Why did I buy them?

How could you not buy something that makes you happy. How can you not buy a tool to help you find that means to an end. I found an answer while in Vancouver. I discovered two brands of pens that to this day are still my favorites; the Viscose based Pilot G-tec C4 pen and the Archival Micron Pen; each costing $5.

View to the right

For the next 14 years I plan to buy more black pens. In the near future I’m buying an Epson printer and then…

Why?

When you purchase a good quality artist supply it will not deteriorate over time with proper storage, use and care. If your art supplies are becoming goopy, yellowing or drying up perhaps you should invest in that $30 paint brush or that $45 sketchbook. This standard does not hold true for all supplies but I will tell you this, those bags of paper I bought in New York 14 years ago, today remain in the same condition as they were then.

Last Week’s Tip – The Truth Behind the Struggle

Next Week’s Tip – Did you mix enough of that color?

Picture credits – The two pics were captured from the windows of my studio; one to the left and one to the right

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Now for the Positive and the Smiling Woman Portrait

It wasn’t all gloom and doom where I worked. There were times and days when things were good and not so bad. Here is a list of positively great things associated with where I was employed.

Smiling Woman

1. I paid one of my student debts totaling $3700 off in full in the six months I worked there.

2. I am in awesome physical shape from the physical labour. Only another $18,500 to go!

3. I worked with some great people; people who made me laugh; people who worked as hard as I did.

4. They gave me a part-time job when I needed one.

5. I was surrounded by art supplies!

6. Everyday I was inspired by art, prints, photos and oddities customer’s brought in to have framed.

7. I got to cut glass.

8. I learned to be efficient in the time frame I was given for varying tasks.

9. I got to use air powered tools!

10. I met and spoke with many local artists weekly.

11. They were understanding when things got rough for me while nearing the end of tapering off Paxil last November.

12. They gave me time off (unpaid) when my grandmother passed away.

13. They are marking me off as a good employee because I gave written notice.

14. If I ever want to work for them again I am always welcome to come back.

15. Finally, having this job gave me the confidence to know that I can work and do a good job at it.

For the next three weeks I’ll be working with my Dad and brother renovating a building they own. I’ve worked with them before and enjoy doing so. I’m a good worker and when able to have always given a hand. Women are just good at paying attention to the small details that men may miss. Now don’t go attacking me for saying that but I know my Dad and brother and you don’t. They do fabulous restoration work. I’m so excited. This building is near 100 years old.

So, if you know of any part-time work email me or leave a comment on this post. I am open to all types of work. The summer is coming and I’ll be planting and maintaining a huge vegetable garden again. That in itself is backbreaking work. A part-time office or contract work at home gig would be grand.

And to clarify why I choose part-time over full-time work. I need time to write, draw and paint. Without doing those three things I do and have become very sick. I stay healthy this way which is better for me and also great for the people who employ me.

The smiling woman semi self portrait will be available in my art shop later today. She is looking a little magenta though. I must rescan her.

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Napping and dreaming about bubbled artwork and ANGRY vintage kitchen tables

I am waking from a nap.

Moon

Work. Well, work is work. I’ve filed last Friday in a place that won’t be disturbed ever. I find myself holding out for the new manager to arrive. Hopefully when she arrives things will begin to turn around. Until that day comes, because I do not have other steady employment I will stay put, keep to myself and watch as co-workers quit, become frustrated and more unhappy. I work every day this week. My next day off is Sunday. There is not much I can do at work but work. I’ve resolved myself to do just that and since doing so my mind is quiet. There are things taking place that are way beyond my control. So be it.

November felt akin to mental concentration camp on my part. I went 40-50 days without a day off between Custom Framing, Design Contract work, Opening my online Art shop and writing for this Blog.

I managed to save enough money to ship the remainder of my things from Vancouver to Saint John. And the balance owing on my student loans is lowering month to month as I vigilantly place half of my income on the outstanding balance. Another few (plus) years to go.

Wednesday of last week I spoke to my ex-boyfriend who just happened to give my vintage kitchen table away, that I had painstakingly refinished bringing it back to it’s original luster, to his brother. Fuck you! Sad thing is if you get to angry at this man he withdraws and DOES NOTHING. When he does do something it’s pretty big and has a lasting effect on your pschy. I calmly told him to retrieve my kitchen table from his brother (who in no way shape or form gives two shits about me) repack and ship it to me immediately. He knew I NEVER planned on leaving it there and more than that would never give it to his brother.

Thus far only one oversized box has been shipped to me. That box contains four oversized original paintings and a hoola hoop which just happened to get wet because *dumbass didn’t place a tarp over the box in the rainiest city of Canada while transporting them to the shipping company from my friend’s house. Then he left while the company was on the phone with me. He just left. The company tells me on the phone that the box is wet. They ask me what is inside the box. I answer ARTWORK! They ask for my permission to open the box and offer to repack the 5 by 6 foot by 12 inch box at an extra cost mind you, to inspect the artwork for damage. So $332.00 later my box will arrive this Thursday.

Two of the four paintings were bubbling. I am four thousand miles away. It is all I can do to remain calm over the phone with the shipping company as he details the damage. The shipping company offered to crank the heat over night before repacking and shipping them the following morning.

When my friend Tomoko had gone out to her garage last Tuesday to inspect the boxes early last week she noticed one of them had disappeared and that all it’s contents including my CD’s, expensive software for my computer, handwoven blankets and a very cool IKEA step stool were on the garage floor. The vintage kitchen table was no where to be seen. She was flabbergasted.

I’m a tad pissed. Tomoko is pissed.

How is to possible to still be in love with someone that makes you so furious!

*That is my theory. Tomoko’s garage is dry. The shipping guy told me it was raining all day.

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Peak Season Hazards at Work

The situation I find myself in has become a burden. Work has become a life threatening burden. I’m pissed.

At about noon today I felt myself get so angry I wanted to kick the living daylights out of something, anything, kill it, shred it up and devour it. I hate that feeling. I hate that feeling of being so out of control that you lose yourself in the moment.

It was all I could do to stay calm, talk only to co-workers and regress my anger towards one of two new managers today. I work with glass every day. EVERY DAY. BIG FREAKING SHEETS of glass. These sheets of glass I cut down to fit custom ordered frames. We have a steel garbage can on wheels to dispose of any unused pieces into. All of the employees in this store use this framing department glass can to safely dispose of glass or other sharp items than can CUT you, your family or friend. We framers where goggles and also dawn protective hand gear when cutting and handling glass in the frame shop.

Fuck we are so mismanaged. Our store manager quit late last week. Our assistant manager got hit in the neck with a Christmas tree box and is still quite ill. I don’t blame her for quitting. It’s a zoo where I work. The company policies make it impossible to do a good job. I do not earn enough money to compensate with the stupidity of two new replacement managers. Are they even managers. NO! They are freaking managers in training. Do they care? NO. They make the big money. We make minimum wage, give or take a few dollars. I am using every fiber of my being right now not to pick up the phone and call Health and Safety. *Ralph is so fucking dumb with his rosy cheeks and grin. I feel for the department managers. They are a gift sent from heaven right now up silently warring against corporate evil.

My hands are swollen from handling dirty cardboard early this morning at 7AM. Our cutting instruments do more damage than actual cutting because of the STUPID COMPANY safety policy mechanisms on the cutting knife. My feet continue to swell from being on them for 10 hours. Fuck. I’m not scared of hard work. Never have been. I want to work. BUT when you are a labourer you at least get paid **19 bucks an hour to do your job. I earn 9. Nine dollars. Was $8.75 but just got a 25¢ raise. Woot. I can afford to do…

nothing.

So Ralph or John break a frame around noon today. CRASH throughout the store. The music is off in the store. EERIE silence. Glass breaking. There might be 200, 300 people shopping in the store at this time. OK. Breaking or dropping something is no big deal. It happens all the time. You simply pick the broken pieces up, dispose of it, record the SKU number and go about your day. This has nothing to do with the Christmas rush! I’ve worked retail before. MANY fucking years either part-time or full-time. I know all about it. RALPH is dumb and placed my safety and integrity at risk. He also placed your safety at risk. Ralph or John broke a framed piece of art. No big deal.

FUCKING dude(s) left the metal glass bin in the center isle where your little sons and daughters can walk by and easily rub there hands along for over an hour today. THAT IS A BIG DEAL! We are so freaking busy right now in that store. We are very lucky none of the public was hurt. I shouldn’t have to look after one of the so called managers on my wage. I’m not being paid to do so. IT should be the other way around. I shouldn’t have to think about them at all. I went and gave RALPH a piece of my mind, telling him you can’t leave sharp glass laying in the main left center isle. He just smiled dumbassidly. The other framer, my posse backed me up. No one cares right now down there. No one cares. Moral is low and it makes me sad.

I’m exhausted. Today was the breaking point. Another co-worker came looking for the glass bin which should have been placed back in the frame shop after the broken glass had been cleaned up. This coworker met me in an isle carrying broken Christmas ornaments. She asks “Where’s the can?” I answer I don’t know. Then think… “Is it out back?” in the stockroom it’s home away from home where the glass get disposed of by the shipping/receiving guy. She says No.

I take the glass from her and go searching remembering RALPHhhhhhhh had taken the glass can. He never returned it. I felt my stomach turn. I should have went with him to retrieve the can after he was done using it. BUT was so busy in custom framing I could not and honestly forgot about it after dealing with the umpteenth person asking about whatever they were asking about.

I am so tired you guys these past few weeks. So much is going on behind what you read here on this blog that it is all I can do to stay sane. Having an art education where I work means nothing. It means an average 25¢ to 75¢ more than the average joe off the street earns per hour as I found out about three weeks ago. That man has since been fired since I said I was giving my notice and after a few of the other department managers noticed his antics also. I just happen to be the first employee to voice my concern not so much over his wage but over his lack of honesty, integrity and plain down right VILE attitude towards people in general. How could he earn almost as much as me when he did nothing! I hate it there. I’m beginning to hate men in general. I find they have no fucking clue lately.

The women and two good men (***tom and harry) in that store work very hard. These other two men (Ralph and John), as hard as they may think they are working, are not cut out for the job. And maybe I’m not either. Maybe I should re-consider leaving.

I hate having to work so much not to even meet poverty standards in Canada. The only reason I’m not living on the street is because I live at home with my folks.

Maybe this is just a bump in my life. I started to make mistakes at work today. I measured custom orders wrong and cut orders wrong because they have me doing toooooooooo many different jobs that I can’t concentrate on a $500 dollar order which I feel is more important than unpacking $5 fucking freight. I’ll unpakc the freight. No problemo. BUT don’t get angry when custom orders don’t get complted in time for Christmas. We are severely understaffed. MAYBE if the company payed it’s current employees an itsy bit more we would work the extra hours needed to make up for the lack of bodies supervising the store.

I’ve been practicing leaving my work at work. That’s not working so well these last few weeks. We get a new manager again come the New Year. I keep holding my breath hoping that she will be good, fair and honest.

I was so happy to see the framing manager start her shift this afternoon. She is solid.

There are those of you who read this blog that know who I am and where I work. You most likely are close to this situation. None of this is directed at you for you are in the same boat as I find myself in. And I think you are a doing a fabulous job. You are the reason(s) I stay. You are great to work with during these dire times.

I wonder what would happen if we, the workers decided to unionize. We definately would get fair wages for the work we do. All of us regardless of education or not. What would happen if we went on strike during peak season! YAH!

I’ve been holding much back here on this Blog of mine. I don’t think I can censor myself any longer. An artist censoring herself is like taking a fish out of water and leaving it to die, rot and stink in the sun.

Time to live and come clean!

*names changed
**standard UNION labourer pay in New Brunswick
***names changes – both great guys!

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

About Dry Mounting Dead Baby Feet

I have custom picture framed many things in my life. From sew mounting a 24 by 36 inch Peruvian head dress to planning small multiple opening matted family photographs with frame I take care and pride in the work I do. More than that, people trust me with their precious items.

On occasion a *custom order stands out from the rest.

A woman recently came into the frame shop in search of a solution for framing ink prints of both hands and feet of her dead grand daughter. The black prints were on cotton. There was also an accompanying drop of blood on this white cotton. I suggested heat setting the prints, before she poured the planned thick coat of varnish over top of them in her shadow box collage, to set the ink in case it ran after the application of varnish. She left the store with the tiny 6 by 6 inch cotton and returned the following day with her shadow box. She showed me what she wanted to do. I said dry mounting to foam core would heat set the ink. I measured the inside of the shadow box at 12 by 12 inches. She placed the cotton and the other baby memorabilia where she wanted them, forming her collage and I punched those measurements into the framing computer system.

She paid for the mounting, gathered her shadow box, pictures and dried flowers then left. There was this smell. A smell I was unfamiliar with that came unbidden whenever the cotton was exposed… as though life or death was holding onto and surrounding the frame shop. I sandwiched these little feet, hands and blood into cardboard, numbered the bin and thought how sorry I was for this little still born soul. With the picture of the dead baby ringing clear in my mind from a few moments earlier I worked silently.

A couple of days ago I dry-mounted this order. Upon opening the cardboard the smell loomed. I cut the foamcore to 12 by 12 inches. I turned the dry mount machine on. I carefully placed the little hands, feet and blood stain a half inch from the bottom in the center on top of the foamcore. I tacked it on one corner with the heat gun adhering it to the board, lifted the seven foot long machine cover and placed this tiny order in the center. I closed the lid. I clasped the sides. Set the machine to three minutes and 150˚ Fahrenheit and hit start. I prayed.

It was quiet in the frame shop that Tuesday evening. The calm before the Christmas storm.

Three minutes later… beep. BEEP. BEEP…
I hit stop.
Time stopped.

Another 12 seconds pass as I wait for the machine to decompress. I open the lid and lift the light green protective covers revealing these perfect little black ink prints of both hands and feet with blood stain mounted to foamcore. The smell is gone. The cotton now smooth, flat and heat set. The water in my eyes dry and I breath in life again.

Her memory will forever live on now.

RIP

*The exact details of this custom order have been changed to protect the identity of all those involved save for myself.

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

I watched them pack or Seasons Greetings!

Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil - jessicadoyle.ca

I watched them pack sunflowers
I watched them pack autumn leaves
I watched them pack orange berries
amidst stems and wreaths

I watched them count
I watched them punch it in
I watched them count
I watched them pack

it in…

to oversize black garbage bags,

Autumns last breeze.

It will not compost
As it is mostly plastic

Nor be loved
or be seen for a million years
lest humans dig it up
in search of yesteryear.

I see things everyday not unlike you.
I do things everyday not unlike you.
Some of these things deeply concern me.

At 80% off they didn’t sell

and

I moved Christmas into it’s place.

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

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?

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

How do you clean your mind?

I began, a few moments ago, thinking about how I wished I could remove my brain, throw it in the wash with detergent and later dry it outside on the line in the crisp autumn air.

I can’t literally do that though and that fact irks me especially after a day like today.

I am only able to wash my skin if dirty, exercise if fat and eat if hungry. The mind is different and yes, every one of those things affects the mind indirectly but they cannot immediately rid it of dirt.

This got me thinking about drugs and how I crave them during moments of high stress. Yes, moments, for the urge can pass to instantaneously fix the sleepiness, stupidness or inattentiveness. On days like today though the moments turned into hours and the 15 minute break worked for about 15 minutes upon my return to working. I know, I know there will be days like these.

I wish I had that little bottle on days like these. I wish I had my magic potion. I wish I could sip it into oblivion and be unaware of my own existence, only conscious of other’s insistence.

Today I found two pennies.