Here’s a shout out for Cindy Hicks. A gem in our industry is now available for freelance.

After a long career at The Martin Agency, Cindy Hicks is now on the freelance road.   Lucky for all of you hiring that she is now available and looking for projects.  When I heard the news, I thought it would be helpful to respost the interview Alison McCreery did for our blog with Cindy.  If you are at all considering an art producer freelancer, this is a must read.  Cindy is truly one of a kind.

To reach Cindy, you can visit her Linkedin profile – I am sure she would love to hear from you.

Click here for the interview posted on May 8,2012

Five for freelance life: Some tips from the front lines


Once again, freelance art producer and blogger, Sheri Radel Rosenbergshines with her funny and realistic portrayal of creative freelance life.  If you are not familiar yet with Sheri, be sure to check out her own blog, Maven, where she curates all that is cool in fashion, food, travel, culture, past and present.  Here is what she had to say:

“Have you ever wondered what it’s like to go freelance? For all of you art buyers who feel trapped by jam packed offices and jam packed politics, the world of freelance may be right up your alley. I was fortunate enough to work for incredible agencies, but I always had a nagging feeling that I wanted to go freelance- I pictured sitting on my sofa in some chic pajamas, cooking healthy meals for lunch, going to the gym, having coffee with friends, and generally regaining control of my life. Oh, wait. Did you hear that? That was the cold, hard slap of reality hitting me in my naive face.

Yes, there are many times when you are freelancing that you will get to take your dog for a longer walk than usual, and yes, you can probably find time to get your hair highlighted or get to that overly rescheduled dermatologist appointment. But wow. I had no idea that freelance life would be every bit as challenging as office life, and in many ways more so- long hours, sleepless nights wondering what’s next, and having to self motivate more than you ever have. It’s a real education in learning how to be alone and not go crazy, carving out your day in a smart way so you are not still sitting in your pajamas at 5 pm, and generally adjusting to being an army of one.  Regardless of the challenges and panic over whether you will ever take a vacation again, I am indeed, free at last. Or should I say, free at lance. There is nothing better than that feeling- of waking up in the am and knowing that it’s wholly up to you to make it a great and productive day.

I’m no expert but here’s my take as I sit on my sofa watching my dog eat dinner and wondering where on Earth the day went. (What day is it again?) Hope you find them helpful if you choose to fly solo:

 

Do your job. I know you do your job. But I mean something else here- when you go into a freelance situation and sit in someone else’s offices, do not get involved in politics. You are, for all intents and purposes, Switzerland.  You are there for one thing- to get the job done. And that’s all you need to do, really. Yea, you want to socialize and meet people and look nice and grab coffee with your temporary colleagues. But you also need to know your place, and your place, unless you are looking for full time work, is to come in, do a job, and leave. They may call you again of course, but you are a mercenary for hire, and nothing more. Go in, kill it, and smile. If you start engaging in inner office drama, you will fail and get pissed off. Steer clear.

Shower. You’d think this one is easy enough- you’ve been getting up for work for however many years and sleepily getting clean for years now. But now that you may be working from the comfort of your couch, don’t discount the need to wash. I admit there are days when I go to spin or yoga class at 8 am, and find myself still sitting in my gym clothes at 3 pm- don’ t do this. It really is important to approach freelance as a real job- and you gotta shower, put on a bra, and brush your teeth and hair. Yea, they’ll be some days when that’s not happening, but you have to make an effort. The other day, I was in the cavernous basement of my local Starbucks (free wifi yo) to get out of the confines of my apartment and was amazed what a sorry lot was down there, myself included. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you need to look homeless, or go braless.  Get yourself together and you will have a much better day.

Get a land-line. Especially if you live in Brooklyn and have AT&T. You’re welcome.

Provide a service. Knock knock. It’s your career calling. One of the most important light bulbs to go off in my cobweb-addled head was the fact that now, as a freelancer, I’m very much a service provider.  As my own entity, when I recommend a photographer, a stylist, or a producer, my reputation is even more on the line, because I now have clients of my own, and it’s my job to bring the right people to the table, and if I don’t, that phone is gonna stop ringing and I’m going to have to stop going to Starbucks (which I should do anyway). I always took great pride in my work, but now that people are hiring me as a vendor, I’ve increased that pride and attention to detail by 700%. You are no longer hanging out at the office, waiting for an account person or creative to plop down on your Ikea sofa and tell you about a new concept. You’re drumming up work for yourself and your ace in the hole is your ability to give great service, so you need to start thinking about yourself in this way.

Become a generalist. Many of you don’t know me personally, but I’ve been getting my writing ya yas out on my very own blog and guest blogging on various sites. I have reignited my passion for writing, and it’s only because I’ve opened my mind to doing so. Agencies like to make you think that they are after polyglots, but I have never found that to be true in full time life. That’s the joy of being free at lance- you can’t imagine how many possibilities open up to collaborate on things you may have never thought of. I’m happily pursuing more writing gigs, thinking of taking some classes in fashion design, and often fantasize about getting my masters in Anthropology. I am not sure I would have thought of all of this while I worked somewhere full time, and guess what? I have less time now than ever to figure out how to do it all, but I know as I settle in to this evening with my dog nuzzled up against me, that there is indeed a whole world out there, and for people like me (and maybe even you), you simply don’t need to limit yourself to one thing. Why not try everything you want to? After all, you’re free now.

But I’ll tell you straight- freelancing is not easy. You have to network, recalibrate your scales, and get in the game, but stay out of the politics. It’s a liberating experience, and I am up for the challenge, and hope you are too. I’m thrilled that there are people that believe in what I can do as a producer, writer, or otherwise. I’m totally open to becoming the generalist I have always wanted to be, and I’m so bloody grateful to all the good peeps I’m working with right now producing great work, and hope it continues for a very long time. And if you ever want to have coffee or lunch or anything else if you are ever in the city, look me up. I’m one of the lucky ones that actually can take lunch during the day. (Just not today)… Maybe I’ll even shower for you. XO”

Diary of a freelance art buyer: Freelance Life = Balanced Life?

Julia Cunningham continues to make her mark as a freelance art buyer and in doing so realizing that it isn’t just the clients’s time that she has to manage.  It is her own time that needs managing as well.  Anyone who is freelance out there will tell you that is sometimes one of the hardest things to get used to when you are on your own.  Here is what Julia has to say about her experiences.
“Now that I am working for myself, I have discovered yet another schedule that needs to be updated regularly… mine! The assurance of picking up the phone to ask a co-worker for assistance is no longer an option.
The upside? I actually feel I’ve become more adept at multitasking than when I was working as a full-time employee. However, I am still trying to figure out the matrix — How many projects I can take on at once? Can I commit to additional work when a current job is “tentatively” on hold? Can I still work, effectively, while on vacation?  I assume the answers will come more easily with time, but I admit it can be a struggle right now.
With my first holiday as a contract employee behind me, I found the most important part of keeping my schedule organized was persistence, perhaps bordering on annoying.  It wasn’t long ago I would lose patience with multiple calls from a photographer’s rep to inform me another client was prepared to book. Now I’m an empathetic freelance Art Buyer on the rep’s side. There is definitely a strategy in making sure clients maintain project schedules while getting others to commit to actual start dates.
I wish I were able to provide a perfect summation, especially because I know I’m hardly alone in this freelancer’s dilemma.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite content being self-employed; I just hope I’ll eventually discover the perfect balance.”

Diary of A Freelance Art Buyer – The power of face to face collaboration.

© Leigh Beisch - http://www.leighbeisch.com

A few months into her new Art Production business, Julia Cunningham seems to have found a groove.  Apparently, it is true that the more things change the more they stay the same.  Thank you Julia for your latest insight into what it is like out there on your own.

Here is what she has been thinking about lately.

“Since starting my own Art Production consulting business I’ve have the opportunity to work for different organizations.  Within a short amount of time it’s become apparent that no matter where you work in advertising, certain facets of production remain constant:  All projects will need to be estimated upside down, right side up, and sideways before the actual project is approved. The production calendar will need to be pushed back to accommodate the deadline of a last-minute media deal, and undoubtedly budget maneuvering will be necessary due to an unforeseen client change, additional usage, or a prop that will make or break the creative.

I actually take comfort in knowing that although every agency has a different philosophy, different operations, and varying degrees of hip social activities to make the “best companies to work for” list, these day-to-day issues are universal.

As I’ve become accustomed to various working environments, I find the best way to overcome the obstacles (no matter how expected they may be), is face-to-face collaboration. After spending a few weeks working on a project in the solitude of my home office, I yearned for co-worker interaction. I miss bouncing ideas off others or being able to swing by someone’s office to ask, “Do we have client approval?”  I realize we live in a digital age, and that email, instant messaging and cell phones should be sufficient… but as speedy as our digital age has become, it still doesn’t beat an in-person project regroup.  To me, these are mini problem-solving sessions with a little support group thrown in.

Working in your PJs from time to time and doing a load of laundry while sending emails definitely has its perks, but getting out there and working face to face is not only necessary for networking, but for exploring new and better ways to work. “

Diary of a Freelance Art Buyer: Going for it!

© Richard Schultz - http://www.rschultz.com

When Julia Cunningham, (previously an art buyer at an advertising agency in Chicago) shared with us her news about venturing out on her own, we were so happy for her.  When she called, we talked a lot about how the power of being on your own needed to outweigh the fears if she were to succeed.  We talked of the courage and independence it takes to start something for herself.  And we talked about how exciting it all was.

It got me thinking that her experiences over the next few months would be unique.  I wondered if she would be open to sharing her thoughts, fears and journey through our blog.  So much of what she will experience is relevant to not only other art buyers but anyone in the freelance creative community; photographers included.

Here is her first entry.  After reading this, I look forward to reading and sharing more about her journey.

“OK, I did it” I said to my husband over the phone in my office.

And, then my next comment was “What did I just do?”

I had resigned from my position of 8 years as a Sr. Art Production manager at a Chicago ad agency.   Who would have thought going into my HR manager’s office to resign would provoke sweaty palms and teary eyes.   I wasn’t being laid off; I was doing this of my own volition.   I thought for sure I would feel liberated, I was going out on my own wasn’t I?  This is good news, right?   I think the uncertainty of whether I was making the right decision had overtook my emotions.

It’s my personal opinion that most of us will come to several crossroads in our lives.  Where should we go to college, if we should have children, whether to take a job offer across the country, etc.  The list goes on.  My latest crossroad was deciding if I should continue working for the same company OR take on the daunting, but exhilarating challenges of starting my own Art Production consulting business.

Both shared the same recipe for success; hard work, rubbing elbows, and overcoming unforeseen challenges.  The biggest difference though is that on my own I would be in control.  I would be working for myself.

The support I received from family and friends was unanimous.  I heard lots of “Good for you!” “Congrats!”  It felt great knowing that so many people were rooting for me.

Of course, along with the feeling of self-satisfaction was my lingering uncertainty and a very long to do list.  I wish it had been as easy as “hanging out the old shingle” as my father put it.  But along with setting up the home office, building a website, updating the Linked-in profile, and networking like it’s a contest, I found my passion again.  My love of photography and illustration, my enjoyment of researching new talent, and the challenge of taking on comprehensive projects all appeared in a renewed light.

It’s easy to become complacent as we fall into familiar patterns and practices of the day to day.  Taking a step back to figure out what inspired me professionally was more complex, but in the end it lead me in the right direction.

Hard work, rubbing elbows, and overcoming unforeseen challenges on my own terms; this could be the motto on my metaphorical shingle.