Lavaponyland and OEF are where I post my art and sometimes my thoughts on random silly things. As I get more requests for professional graphics services and commissions - I need to post some important and common sense etiquette reminders for my clients. Plain and simple - Most people would quit a job that takes them several weeks beyond completion without the hope of payment or reimbursement. I'm no longer interested in working with deadbeats who devalue my craft, my time, and my friendship.
I’ve stopped and started writing this particular entry more times than I could count, but there in the unlikely place (at the bag of a bottom of Doritos, depression-flavor) was the beginning.
I may not know the “sexy” thing to say, but I know the “honest” thing. That’s as good of a starting point for a blog entry than anything else I can think of.
The Lava-Pony of Lavaponyland - was born out of a joke I made to one Carol Ann Gardler eons ago in a time space where we were far less jaded and had less wrinkles around our eyes. We had a friend that would destroy her perfectly kind-hearted boyfriends..and I had joked that she would ride that “pony right into the lava”. I later realized I was being ridden into the lava professionally by well meaning freelance clients ( circa 2003). I was much greener and perfectly kind-hearted and heading towards a boiling demise.
In 2003 I did my first “paid” freelance. I worked on a 40 page (50 year) high school reunion book for two weeks and was paid in ham. You read that right, ham ...as in the canned meat. If you give me a minimum wage for that time period - that would 40 x $8 per hour = $320. The client thought I did such a wonderful job, that she would pay me with meat. Two weeks of my life..traded for meat and not even the sexy kind. Imagine doing anything for two weeks and being paid nothing. I bought nothing. I travelled nowhere and that “exposure” was laughable. Anyone that seen this project was well into their mid-late retirements. I vowed never again. I did no freelance after that for about 3 years. Fast forward 10 years later and I find myself in the same situation except worse, now I am ham-less with the added torture of social media. I get to watch my deadbeat clients vacation and party - while I ask my mom to help me pay my utilities. Hi, I'm Leslie and I am a doormat.
I had an understanding with my next and “only” freelance client after that - that I was not to ever be paid in trade or ham..only money. Every agreement has went this way up until recently when I started getting “ham or nothing” again.
I have a day-job and plan on keeping one well into my 70’s. Yes, I have to drive and eat briskly - but the rent is paid and the lights are on. I like having medical insurance and the promise of retirement. And this isn’t just any day job. If I were an actress I’d now be an A-lister, so I don’t have to star in any straight to dvds. I love this job. I choose it, not the Freelance after-party.
I missed Halloween working on a “rush” project, that to date - I haven’t been paid for. My logic at the time was that I needed the money more than I needed the life experience. But folks..there’s no freelance job worth more than Halloween. Even more devastating..I may not even be able to fit my She-Ra costume. What a waste of super powered nerd-bliss. Let’s hope I have better luck as Ravishing (rick) Leslie - Rude at the 80’s wrestler costume extravanganza.
This was going to be my retirement from freelance blog. However - I have clients and friends that are fair and prompt and consider my time valuable. They are worthwhile and fun. It’s not fair to them. So I’m not "retiring", I’m just restructuring. Moving forward I will require a contract and a deposit. The contract and deposit information will be available in the next two weeks for any interested parties as a downloadable pdf on Lavaponyland. I’m not explicitly turning down “unpaid” pro-bono jobs - but if you need my help enough to request it without even the hope of paying me - I’m going to at least have to hear a case by case reason of why. I need the option to accept or decline a project.
It’s my hope I haven’t lost any clients over showing my cards in this here piece of writing. If your project is only 50 bucks. It’s still gonna be 50 bucks. I’m just not starting it without a signature and some incentive. As for friends, that’s always free. I prefer presence over presents anytime. And if it’s quiet....that’s okay too. That's a sign I need to move on to other Leslie projects. Like photoshopping goats' heads on bikini models..or watching Zombie tv shows with half-open eyes. Hey..I didn’t say they were noble projects.