Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Posting; not my best subject

I don't think its surprising that I kinda suck at posting on my blog. What can I say, life happens. Hopefully, I'll have something more substantial to post later in the week. I have been working on my own stuff. I just forget to post it and I wanna post stuff that I'm proud of.
Well, till then, I'll try to keep you updated.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Updates, on what I'm working on

Its been a couple of weeks since I last updated. Maybe more. And I kinda feel like I need to update you all on what I'm working on. Nothing big, just some ideas.
I've had a bunch of free time as of late and its been some time since I worked on my own personal projects. And there are a few that I'm always touching base. Recently, I talked with a friend about how sometimes we need a little push. You have all these ideas and you need someone to just say 'Start Here'. Well, we made an agreement. We decided to just give a nice little reminder to work on something specific. My next little project is short and sweet. And will hopefully make it onto this blog soon. I'm working on animating a character jumping over a gap. Simple.
I'll update you all very soon on how this is going. Maybe even post a WIP for you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dressing to Get the Job

One thing I've noticed about the 3d, animation, gaming industries it that the attire that everyone has told you about in business class or from your friends working in other industries, doesn't always fit. Wearing a suit might make you stand out, but in a way where you might not fit the profile of what they are looking for. Some studios are laid back, some are more business centric. You really have to know your audience.
First and foremost, do your research! Look into the studios you are applying to. Everything is on the web these days. It shouldn't be too difficult to figure out the vibe of certain studios. I'm not exactly sure how to describe this, but looking up a company before you go to an interview is always a good thing. Trying to figure out their vibe through their website isn't so easy. There are a bunch of studios that are becoming more social. Reaching out through LinkedIn and Facebook. Its not just on their website these days. Some places have head shots of their employees. Are they wearing suits? Are they wearing t-shirts? Looking for simple hints like that can help you figure out their 'vibe'.
Let's say the studio you are applying to has a very casual vibe. T-shirts and jeans type folks. Should you wear that to an interview? Hell no. Should you wear a suit? Please don't. You don't want to look like you couldn't care less. But you also don't want to look to anxious for the job. No one actual likes the eager beaver. We tolerate them. Some more then others, but that all depends on how much they know and how well they do things. For this situation, you should dress clean and appropriate. Nicer than the regular t-shirt and jeans. Go for a nice shirt. Maybe something that buttons up. And nice pants. Now, you can still do jeans, but please make sure they look clean and there are no oddly places holes. I might avoid the ripped jeans look. Ladies, if you are gonna wear a skirt, please make sure its not too short. If your finger tips can go past your skirt when you stand straight, you are wearing something that is probably more suited for a night out on the town and not a job interview. Try again. Also, low cut shirts are just distracting. Remember, this is a job interview, not a date. You want them to hire you based of your talents (at least, this is what I'm hoping).
Let's say they are the opposite. Its a very business attire type place. Well, then you should be dressing that way. I have not gone into any studios that have had that type of vibe. Maybe it exists, but I'm just not aware of it (this is where I ask you all to inform me if I'm wrong and make me update this whole post later or address it in a new post).
A job interview is definitely an important way to show potential employers who you are and what you can bring to their company. But not everyone has just an interview. I've worked at a few places just on word of mouth. I've also been to a bunch of job fairs. Word of mouth is difficult to dress for. On your first day, you should put some effort towards your appearance. For job fairs, well, it really depends on the job fair.
I always find jobs fairs kinda weird. You show up, stand on a bunch of lines and hopefully the person you are talking to has the information you're looking for. You hope they are looking for an artist like you. That their upcoming projects might need a person with your talents. Job fairs are tricky. You just don't know who is going to be there and it might be an impossible task to research them all. I've been to a job fair where they did not list which studios were going to be their ahead of time (well, they did. It was just they didn't list what locations they would be in. Kinda important to figure out if they are gonna be in your city or not. And they know who they are). For job fairs, I say the same thing rings true here as it did for the interview section. This is going to be the first impression. You want them to remember you, but you also want to make sure its a good memory. You don't want to be the slob they saw walk in who looks like they might not have showered this week. Clean up and make sure your leaving the right impressions.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Attire for Life's Moments

I was originally going to simply write about what to wear in a interview, but that's kinda short and sweet. But it can also be confusing. Cause what you wear in an interview and what you wear when you start working there can be so different. I also want to get an idea of what everyone else thinks. I feel like I don't go on interviews that often enough to be all high and mighty about it. But then I see some people before an interview or their first day of work or an outing with co-workers and think to myself, "Really? You thought that was appropriate?"
I know I'm not the only one to think this. There just have to be more people who are thinking to themselves that maybe their should be a little handbook on these things (there might be one already). But its not just what is appropriate and what isn't. There is also the whole, "We are artists...yada, yada, yada." Casual attire at work is usually a t-shirt and jeans. And everyday seems to be Casual Friday. So what are we supposed to wear for events pertaining to our professional life? Let me know. Comment about this, pretty please. :D
Let me, and everyone else for that matter, know what is appropriate for the work environment, interviews, after work activities, company mixers, studio parties, etc. If you can think of any events where you've thought "Hmmm, is that too racy?" or "Should I dress up?", please, I want to know your thoughts. I have my own, but I want to see what others think in the comments. This way I can take examples, too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Freelance Life

Every time I run into a freelancer who is trying to make the business side of freelancing work for them, I keep telling them about a few resources available on the web. Being our own boss is cool, but sometimes we need to cover our asses from shady clients (they aren't everywhere, but we've all seem to run into a few). I've been meaning to post on this topic for awhile. And I've actually written this same post a few times to try and get my point across without sounding too cynical or like a sales pitch on certain products. I can turn down the cynicism, but talking about certain free resources is just gonna sound like a sales promo, however I spin it.
Over the past couple of years, a few resources have greatly improved my life (as a freelancer, but also my life as a whole). Being a freelancer, you really need to know how to budget your time, life, and most importantly, your income. No matter what you do, your going to have months where your doing great and getting work all the time, and then your gonna have your dry months. The months where you get a day gig a week, if your lucky. Its just how it is. When we're doing well, we are doing well. When we aren't, we just aren't doing well.
I have to give my sister credit for this one. She introduced me to mint.com. Mint is a free budgeting tool. You put your accounts in and make a monthly budget. My budget fluctuates and this tool helps show me where I'm putting my money and if I need to adjust my budget. I can tell you how much I'm spending every month on things like rent, groceries, metrocards, entertainment, etc. When your income fluctuates from month to month, you can see how something like this would help you to see where all your money is going to. Now, you can do a spreadsheet and figure this all out on your own, but you have to input all the information. Having a budget is something everyone should do, but I think I can easily say that for us freelancers, its vital.
Another great resource is the Freelancers Union. You know you've seen the adds on the subway and have been curious as to what they're all about. They aren't a union in the typical sense. As freelancers, we come from a diverse background of talents. So they aren't going to bargain with a single employer to get you better working conditions. But they are trying to help gain protection from non-payment in a few states and have banded together to get health insurance for individuals at group rates. In that sense, they are a union.
At this moment, the Freelancers Union has 2 really great resources that I think everyone should at least take a look at. The Client Scorecard and the Contract Creator. We've all worked for a client or employer that we wish we could just forget about. But why forget about it and let the next sucker just find out for their own. The Client Scorecard lets you inform the masses about your crappy experience. Or if you had a great experience, let others know. There are a few poll questions, a star rating, and a review box. Its a great way to see if there is a place you would want to work at, or place you should avoid like the plague.
The Contract Creator is really great for all of us who can't afford to have a lawyer write us up a contract and protect us with the correct language. It allows you to put in certain variables and saves out a document to your computer that you can adjust later if you wish. Very user friendly.
I'm always looking for tools to help make my life a little easier. These have just made it possible to tame the madness of freelancing. Yes, I did just plug a few resources. But I actually use them. I'm not gonna tell you about something that I've never touched before. Give these things a try. Might make your life easier. Or you can ignore every word of it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tips for Working from Home

Working at an office and working from home are very different experiences. Working in an office or at a studio forces you to start at a certain time and concentrate. I'm not saying that concentrating at home is impossible, but it can be tricky. When you work from home, you tend to wake up later and stay in your pajamas all day. And sometimes you feel like you can just switch on the TV and work with some background sound. Here I'm just going to list a few quick tips to get you working from home.

Start your day the same way you would if you were working elsewhere. If you keep your morning routine the same as it was, it'll be easier to sit down and get all your work done. Whatever time you usually wake up, get up at that time. You can wake up later if you wish, but it makes getting into your routine a lot easier. I think waking up later can work just fine as long as the rest of your routine is the same.
Get Dressed! Ok. This might be a silly one. But I have noticed that I work better if I'm wearing cloths and not my PJs. Something about it wakes me up more or preps me for doing things.
Be mindful of your start time and any breaks. This is the hard one at first. If you have an hourly rate, you'll want to track your hours correctly. Be honest. Also don't forget about watching when you end your day. Most employers can tell if your being honest or fudging your hours in your favor. Especially if they are doing the same work as you from home. Everyone has their own speed, but a good employer will always know if someone is trying to milk them. If your working for a flat fee, be sure to take this step anyways. Its going to give you a great idea if you are charging correctly for your services or if you need to adjust your contract in the future. If you get back too many revisions that increase your hours exponentially, then you need to adjust your revision clause to state that there will be overages after X amount of revisions. This is really up to your own judgement, but you should be careful to make sure that you are not being taken for a ride.
No TV! I know. I'm being lame by saying you should shut off your entertainment while you work on things. But you'll be surprised to see how much work you'll get done in a shorter amount of time without that distraction. If you don't believe me, test it out yourself. TV is just a distraction that will slow you down.
Create a work space. When most people come home, they don't want to bring their work home with them. Same goes for you at home. When you step away from your 'work space' you should be home. Creating this border will help you separate yourself from your work. Remote work doesn't mean you have to become a workaholic.
Make sure you take breaks. Make yourself a consistent lunch time. Go outside if you wish. Make sure you don't become a hermit. Working from home can be challenging. My cat sometimes makes it all about him. Gets in between me and my work. I'll take a break when this happens. Play with him a little, then get back to whatever I was doing. It keeps him happy for a few more hours and releases some stress I might have had. Go get some coffee or tea or even make it yourself if you want. You don't want to get stir crazy. Stepping away will recharge you. And when you do come back to your work, you'll have a semi fresh perspective. Just make sure you log your time away from your work.

I hope these tips help you like they did me. Trying to focus at home can be difficult. Creating a routine will help you adjust to working from home and get your work done.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Last Nights Maya Users Group Meeting

I've been to a few of these in the past, for both Maya and 3ds Max. Its a great way to see whats going on with the programs and how studios are utilizing the software. Last night Ryan from Buck gave a nice presentation on a spot not yet released. The breakdown was pretty impressive and the layers/renders used were pure eye candy deliciousness. That doesn't mean that they were pretty with no brains. On the contrary. It seemed like a very complex process on getting the correct look for the spot, without being overly complicated that I couldn't understand what was going on. The end result was amazing renders with a great story.

After Ryan presented, we all took a little break and caught up with friends, colleagues, and met some new faces. Then Stephen Mann took the front and went over some changes with some Maya tools. Always good to know. If your interested in the NY Maya Users Group, check out the blog: http://nymayausersgroup.blogspot.com/

Thank you, Ryan, for presenting. It takes a good amount of courage and certainty to present to a group as large as we were last night. And thank you, Stephen, for putting this all together.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Lately I've been redesigning my website. I just find that its kinda a pain in the butt. I like designing stuff. Let's not get that wrong. I just wanna make sure its perfect. So I set it up with the layout I like. Now to make all the pieces work well together and feel seamless.
Building websites isn't really my thing. But I have been getting better with the layout and my idea is clearer. As long as I get my content up there, it could be a blank white page (but that's boring).
Anyways, the layout and design of a page makes it easier to see an artists work. If the layout makes it confusing to see a persons work, its really a strike against the artist. If I can't figure out what you did or the style of your work from your site, how will I know you can do the job. At least, that's what I think when employers look at my site. What they are really thinking, I can only guess at (as I've not had to hire anyone and haven't looked at sites to hire an artist. I've only looked because of my curiosity.)
What makes a great site to show off your work? You guys should let me know. I really want to know what every bodies opinion is on this. Is it the ease of getting to where you need to go? Or is the creative design really more involved than we think? Are you coding your site by yourself? Or do you use a tool like dreamweaver or indesign? Your opinions are always welcome.