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Still Going, and Going, and….

A few more days and October will have passed. It has been a crazy year: It started busy, and it never slowed down. To the point were I sometimes wonder if I know my Aeron chair way too well. Good thing I love what I do.

In the past, summer has usually provided a couple of slower weeks. I then took advantage by taking some days off to recharge, by going to the beach, working on the house, hanging out with friends. Not this year. This year seemed different. The slow time never happened. Weekends did not represent 2 days, but a few hours at best. I barely spent time voicing my opinion on Speak Up. And the to-do list seemed to grow longer and longer. All this busy time however does not mean that I’m shoveling dollars into my bank accounts. Financially this year has been rather challenging. And a few months ago, I did not think the year was shaping up very well at all. I remember having dinner with Tan, and I probably did not sound too positive. Good guy he is, he offered his two cents, and as basic and broad as our conversation was, it helped. Sometimes that is all it takes. A few words by someone else to put things into perspective. Now, with November knocking at the door, I feel positive about the way things are going and how the year has developed.

I wonder how you guys feel about your year. I know, it’s something we usually don’t discuss until a few days before the year is up, or when we share our goals for a new year that is just starting. But the way I see it, there are still two months left to make adjustments, to kick into high gear and finish strong. So I figured why not ask. I know some of us had a great year so far, but others had an extremely tough time due to Katrina and other disasters and I’m curious how they are doing, now that the front-page news are moving on to other topics (Well, actually it’s “Wilma” this week).

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PUBLISHED ON Oct.24.2005 BY Peter Scherrer
art chantry’s comment is:

been a very bad year for me. i feel like i stuck in a rut WAITING for something to happen. am i alone in that feeling?

On Oct.25.2005 at 12:03 PM
aaron’s comment is:

Nope, I hear ya. It's been an in-house design hell roller coaster for me. Started out wicked busy, but the work has become less challenging and less frequent since June (surviving two rounds of layoffs). Looking forward to the new year and trying something fresh, perhaps my own business? We'll see.

On Oct.25.2005 at 12:27 PM
Michael Holdren’s comment is:

This year has been pretty busy for me in the freelance arena, but like Peter I can't say I'm really lining my pockets with cash but I am able to stay current on things and even upgrade some of my equipment.

As far as waiting for something to happen, not really. Maybe you mean something bigger Art, but for me it just been "waiting to see" how working for myself turns out since I started doing it this year.

On Oct.25.2005 at 01:00 PM
steve’s comment is:

It's easily been the nutties year of my life... Josh was born in May, new baby due in May (again) freelance business was absolutely nuts... I almost grossed doing part time freelance what I gross at my full time job. Though with a baby and fetus at home, freelance work and all side projects have slowed to a near nil and I've sourced out all my sidework. We'll see what the next year brings.

On Oct.25.2005 at 01:49 PM
Spencer Cross [5000!]’s comment is:

My year has been pretty crazy. I started the year with a new job that I thought would be an amazing new phase of my career, only to find it was awful. But I left after only seven months to finally start my own studio. That's something I've been trying to do for years, so it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Freelance work hasn't been rolling in as heavily as it sounds like it did for some other folks, though. The faltering music and film industry models have made working in L.A. a bit difficult, I think. Still, it's allowed me more time to launch this community-building project for LA designers that I've been sitting on for a long time and to pursue some other interests as well. I finally feel like I have a career instead of a job. Guess that makes it a good year!

(Still looking forward to the shoveling cash into bank accounts part, though)

On Oct.25.2005 at 01:57 PM
Rob Bennett’s comment is:

This year has been a struggle, both professionally and personally. After being laid-off from my corporate job I've yet to find a new comfort zone, be it doing my own thing, or just merely doing something again in-house. The work that seemed to take the most time was pro-bono and never seemed to lead where one hopes it does, work that pays.

On Oct.25.2005 at 02:07 PM
b’s comment is:

i am 24, and this has been the worst year of my life, and not for any specific, disastrous reason. I can't wait for things to shape up.

On Oct.25.2005 at 02:45 PM
Armin’s comment is:

As a consistent full-time employee for the better part of my (okay, for my whole) career — for immigration reasons first, for being in the right place at the right time now — I guess it's harder to differentiate a good year from a bad year, at least in the way this discussion is formed — after all, I am not the one who has to worry where the next client is coming from. I have never freelanced on a consistent basis; I have done, at most, 5 or 6 side projects so I can't offer any parallels there either.

However, this has definitely been a good year… Specifically after April, when I started working at Pentagram; in the seven months I have been here I feel like I have done some of the best design I have ever attempted at doing and it's been a very rewarding experience.

Side projects… Well… Speak Up. It is what it is and it continues to do what it does. And it is doing it at a rhythm and quality that surpasses my expectations every day. And The Design Encyclopedia has me really excited. Printing Sheepies was a great task. And other stuff...

Personally, we just bought a home in Brooklyn — not a home-home, a condo, an apartment, whatever. And it is so much frickin' work and it is costly and there are things that leak and things that shouldn't make noises that make horrible, loud noises and bugs and...

On Oct.25.2005 at 03:47 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Don't worry Guys, its only going to get WORSE!!!!!!!

If Karl Rove and Scudder Libby get indicted this Administration is going to go BESERK.

And their will be more Off The Shelf WARS. Or increased U.S. Presence in other Ocuppied Territories. And there will be a Draft before this administration is finished.

By the end of Dubya's Term in 3.25 years the country will be in a recession worse than when Ronald Wilson Reagan was in office.

The Future for Designers in America will be Independence of Staff Positions in the roll of (Expert) Consultants.

You say you don't have a job and not making enough money in your present Independent Occupation. Well Dubya said he was Drafting up to age 65.

There will be PLENTY OF JOBS FOR ALL OF YOU!!!!!!!!!

Since I'm 50 and Art is 50 and Bierut is 48 we'll go in on the Buddy System and be Privileged to Design the War Ephemera e.g. Logos, Posters, Exhibits, Content Development, etc.

Generation X will have to carry their M 16's and Back Packs.

So Nice to BE A BABY BOOMER!!!!!!!!!!!


On Oct.25.2005 at 03:58 PM
art chantry’s comment is:

mr. maven -

count me out.

besides, i'm 51 - far older than you.

- art

On Oct.25.2005 at 04:20 PM
Zoelle’s comment is:

On Halloween I’ll turn the big 3-0. So this Halloween is extra scary for me.

Life is good. Work has been steady and without much drama. All four grandparents are still alive and well. The wife, house, cars, horses+pony, dog, cat, turtles are all well. The garage door spring recently broke but — it happens.

My sister is in Iraq, but she is doing well despite being in Baghdad. She just came back (to Baghdad) from a four day pass to Kuwait, which she thoroughly enjoyed. I talk with her every week. It is tough to not feel fortunate after hearing her tell me about the breakfast she ate that morning under the table during �duck and cover’.

I’ll tell you what the future holds: Adversity mixed with opportunity.

On Oct.25.2005 at 05:17 PM
kelly Munson’s comment is:

A coworker of mine practices energy healing. His take on the tumult of the current year is that nature, the world, and human energy has been out of balance for sometime. There has been a lot of shifting of late, manifesting itself in break-ups, job changes, natural disasters all in an attempt to get back to center. He has assured me the coming year will be quiet and a time of reflection. I sure hope so; I'm exhausted!

On Oct.25.2005 at 05:24 PM
chris dixon’s comment is:

Where have all the good times gone?

DesignMaven may not like this, but I feel we are ultimately reaping the fruits of the Baby Boomers’ legacy (well at least the evil Baby Boomers). It really seems to me that that generation is keen to go out with a bang. Problem is, my generation (Y) doesn’t seem to have a contingency plan.

I can’t remember who said it, but we don’t inherit the earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children. About to become a parent myself, I think that my parents have handed the world back to me in worse shape than when they borrowed it.

This may be all off topic, however it is reflected in the year that was — just grinding away at the pointless busywork waiting for something to happen, trying to make something happen or trying to stop other things from happening.

On Oct.25.2005 at 07:07 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

I just want to hit the rewind button on Life and go back to New Orleans before Katrina. That's all.

On Oct.25.2005 at 08:29 PM
vibranium’s comment is:

Life never ceases to amaze me.

Today, my son who is 7 mentioned at dinner that when he's old, I'll be dead. Hmmm...probably true I thought. But how to spin this...Well, I said, GG (his great grandmother) is still alive, and look how old g'ma is. Maybe when you're as old as g'ma I'll still be around...as old as GG.

He liked that. but only for a moment.

Then he said, yea, but after that you'll die. Then I'll die. But thats okay, cuz after our bones turn to dust we'll see each other in heaven.

Now I have to spend the rest of my life trying to figure out how to convince myself how to believe in god and heaven.

So has it been a good year? I got a 'job', a raise, a 'title', a daughter and now some kinda divine mission. That is one helluva year!

On Oct.25.2005 at 10:33 PM
Daniel Schutzsmith’s comment is:

It has been an awesome year for me:

- I have completed my first year as Business Manager with the extremely amusing bunch at The Chopping Block.

- My blog has given me a chance to get back into writing and exploring my thoughts on the business of graphic design.

- And best of all, my wife an I just gave birth to our first child, a baby boy, on October 7th.

On Oct.25.2005 at 11:35 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

My year so far has been up and down, in the same manner, but not quite a severe as the up and down of last year. Last year the downs were much lower, and the ups smaller, except at the beginning of that year when they were bigger. This year the ups are generally higher, but i the downs have formed a kind of omnipresent undercurrent. If last year was a roller coaster, this year was a tightrope walk. I feel that something's about to happen, but I don't know if it's good or bad. I'm either getting somewhere, or I'm drowning: it's hard to tell.

Does that answer your question?

On Oct.26.2005 at 12:38 AM
Daniel Schutzsmith’s comment is:

Does that answer your question?


On Oct.26.2005 at 02:11 AM
Tan’s comment is:

"It's a marathon, not a sprint."

Some wise advice I once read that keeps me going when things get challenging.

Life and business is funny. There are times when you feel great, and things all seem rosy and easy. You can even become a little overconfident about how things are going — and then WHAM!, life hammers you with something you didn't expect, just to put you back in your place. And vice versa — sometimes it seems the business world is all against you, and there's only more of the same day after day. But that's when you try to remind yourself that you have people who love you no matter what, and that you're much more capable than you think.

I've never known anyone whose success came easy. Or fast. There's always, always a price. Perhaps it was family, or health, or time.

I had a great year, and a bad year. Work-wise, I had some very fortunate opportunities come my way and I made the right decision on which path to go down. At least it feels right so far. But the flip-side is that I've been busier than I've been in a while, and have had to travel for work more frequently then ever. So as a result, I've missed a lot of unrecoverable time with my kids and wife. That's been the price.

Work has also kept me from doing more to help my siblings with my mother — who had a stroke a few months ago, and is slowly recovering. That event was one of those instances when life reminded me not to be so cocky and overconfident about my success. It also reminded me of my mortality, so I'm trying to eat better, exercise a little more regularly. Age sorta sneaks up on you when you're busy working.

Industry-wise, I think things are picking up everywhere. In Seattle, in LA, in many cities that I've visited. It feels like things are just getting better all around. But I've learned not to look too straight ahead, and be wary of what's just around the corner.

And oh yeah, I should have dinner w/ Peter again next time I'm in LA. Cause you can't neglect your friends either.

On Oct.26.2005 at 10:17 AM
agrayspace’s comment is:

For me the year was full of change. I went from the internet biz in Seattle (big pond) to a combo print + web position in Raleigh (Med. Pond). I went from Senior Designer up to Art Director but also went from a studio full of creative minds to a lone designer in a small firm. I miss the big clients but am learning to appreciate the little guys too. I am having a ton of leadership and creative control in all my design but I am also in a vaccuum. The Regional Annual just landed on my desk and told me I suck.

My boss is old school and we clash a lot, over thing like what is appropriate "dress" for creatives, what is "late" (not on deadlines but arriving to the office), and what is a "reasonable" amount of overtime and should we try to "prevent" it. The work load is steady but not really growing. We seem to lose a lot of proposals. Ups and downs.

And we have bird flu to look forward to. Not really seeing the next year as calm and reflective.

Still life is good. The wife is fullfilling her dreams in grad school, got a nice house, 2 cats and a reasonable amount of comfort.

Can't complain. Can try to do better. Always.

On Oct.26.2005 at 01:45 PM
gregor’s comment is:

DM - many thanks for your youthfull enthusiasm.

On topic - Peter, it's been by and large a great year with the exception of the myriad of natural and human (government) made disasters, etc., etc., and so forth. Good clients, interesting projects and a few weeks off in between. Maybe I've been fortunate, but it appears clients are stepping up and acting bold and confident rather than reserved & conservative as in the past several years.

On Oct.26.2005 at 04:12 PM
solo_no-more-no-less’s comment is:

I started a freelance\sole-proprietorship\home based business\small design studio... bleh last year. My first day was November 1st and it has been full on crazy ever since. I can't believe a full year has gone by. Considering that my modest goal was to break even for the year, things have gone extremely well.

I haven't yet designed an online portfolio or a logo/business card for myself. I'm not bragging, in fact I feel like an idiot whenever I'm asked for either. (the cobbler's children have no shoes)

I still cannot say whether or not this will stick. But that's really a result of my own innate pessimism.

All I can offer to this discussion is a knowing nod toward the notion that the next month cannot be forecast according to the last. I try not to let bad experiences get me down and I grudgingly resist dropping $5000 at an apple outlet when things are good.

up. down. whatever.

On Oct.26.2005 at 06:56 PM
Diane Witman’s comment is:

If you would have posed this question about wo months again, I would have griped about losing my crappy in-house job with a bunch of bird-brains...

but now I am enjoying my freelance work at twice the pay with an advertsing company and my old employer. There's nothing more rewarding than your old employer begging for you to help them and then agreeing to pay you twice what they did when they employed you...hah!

I had the chance to really bond with my 2-year old son in the time that I was off and I realized what a difference there was in his behavior (in a positive way) when I spent that much more time with him. I was more patient, he was less cranky.

I had the chance to come to the conclusion that it is possible that I can do this on my own (including the support of family and friends).

Overall, I can't complain and my back pain went away. Apparently it was due to the stress I had at my job. It's funny how life has a funny way of working things out. Balance itself out it will, we may or may not notice it...but it will.

On Oct.26.2005 at 09:30 PM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

I've been sprinting for a while now, so I'm not looking too good under the eyes - yes things have been busy. This year in some ways hasn't been that much different from others, I move a couple steps forward, only to get kicked hard and fall back a step. When the year's done, it will have been exponentially better than all the rest, but not as great as I'd want it to be. I've always had the support of Tamara, but what has been a pleasant surprise is the friends that have come forward to help me through some of the challenges I've faced. It's something I won't forget as I move forward.

On Oct.26.2005 at 11:48 PM
ian’s comment is:

let the good times wash a way the bad times.

right now, i'm as positive as i've been in two years and i finally feel like i'm where i belong, for now.

On Oct.27.2005 at 01:50 AM
Greg’s comment is:

I met me this year. I decided I was too familiar, so I spent most of my time trying to remember just who I was.

Honestly, I meet me every day. Who will I wake up as today? Smiling and confident? Pessimistic and crabby? Brimming with new ideas and new concepts with no venue, or multiple venues with nothing in my head but an acute migrane? Can I know? Do I want to?

It seems everything this year went completely wrong in just the right way. A move and new confidence. A lull and a failure. A new mediocre opportunity in the midst of a hundred old good ones.

Frankly, I'm bewildered.

On Oct.28.2005 at 01:20 AM
feelicks sockwl jr’s comment is:

DM is exactly right (for once).

Fit (the economy) just hit the Shan. Watch what happens to Nasdaq after our country's highest officials are trotted out and indicted one after one.

I dont know whether to cheer or hide under the mattress (where my money will soon be).

On Oct.28.2005 at 03:25 PM
John Hartwell’s comment is:

I have to wonder what �ber-Leftist Kool-Aid Mssrs. Maven and Sockwl are drinking. And what their comments have to do with one's career year. Unhinged political ranting has what to do, exactly, with design and professional creativity?

On Oct.28.2005 at 11:17 PM
Stefan’s comment is:

This year has been one of the most stressful that I can remember. My rent-to-own condo which was supposed to be such a great deal was sold out from underneath me while I was on vacation, sending my entire 5-year plan into a headspin. Actually work has been my only shining beacon. It's seems like alot of us have had terrible work years. I'm just glad work is a secure position with a secure company at the moment (but if the condo taught me anything, it's that I shouldn't be too sure about things like that).

On Nov.03.2005 at 04:14 PM
Valon’s comment is:

Well, the year has been rewarding in terms of clients, work, and money so far. Being that its my only second year in business I learned a lot not just about design, but about the business side of things. Also, in these two years I realized how much I don't know about many things. Running my business has defenetively taught me a lot and made me safer in my skin in terms of creativity and business.

But, overall I plan to grow things more and find out more opportunities. Not just in terms of money, but in terms of creativity and more interesting work. For these two past years we've been doing mostly work for corporate clients with a hint of an interesting client here-and-there. It would be very nice to have projects lined up with clients that offer more interesting venues to explore...from graphic design, environmental graphics, film, etc..etc...

I really liked this post and it's great to find out how everyone else is dealing with their careers.

I have to say though that running a design business is more about getting good work out and meeting great people along the way, then it is to grow your bank account. Don't get me wrong, money keeps the wheels turning...but then again I want them to turn just so I can do more and more work.

I wish everyone a much better and profitable year in 2006!

On Nov.15.2005 at 03:01 PM