TFD: KIND WORDS/GENTLE HEART
This week on The Freelance Diaries, I'm going to bring things back a notch and talk about another personal topic. The last two weeks we chatted about working with an Agent, so I think it's okay to get more personal on this post.
I want to talk about how important it is (in my opinion) to approach freelancing with kind words and a gentle heart. The creative freelance community is different than most businesses. It's competitive, but we're also one big family. We make it a point to work with people we like. To openly give advice to people we like. It's not ALL about business. It's about relationships.
Last week, College for Creative Studies was fortunate enough to have Yuko Shimizu come to lecture. I was so happy and encouraged by her kind words for Detroit and realistic approach to the illustration business. She also made it a point to talk about how important it is to send nice emails. No matter if you're approaching a designer for a job or if you're an up and coming illustrator seeking advice. A nice email gets you a long way. I couldn't agree more with Yuko.
I think a good example of this is when I got my first potential job doing art related stuff that I actually liked. Meeting the owners of Sugar Paper. I sent a simple email, nothing too fancy, just sincerely letting them know I was really into what they were doing. When I sent the email, I wasn't expecting anything out of it - I was just hoping for a connection in some way because I genuinely loved their designs. Here's what I wrote...
Dear Chelsea and Jamie,
My name is Molly and I wanted to write and let you know that I'm truly inspired by the work produced at Sugar Paper! The Simple, elegant letter press designs are timeless and beautiful. I was wondering if you ever take on interns or designers? I'm a local Illustrator/Designer that would love to get involved.
Please feel free to take a look at my website and let me know if it is of interest; I would love to stop by some time and talk. Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you both!
And so, I heard back from one of the owners, Chelsea, the next day. I was able to meet up with her at a local coffee shop and just chat about art, stationery, and what they were doing with their kick-butt little store nestled in the heart of Century City. The meeting was no pressure. Just getting to know each other as people.
After the meeting, I made sure to reach out and say "Thank You". It's all about being nice and working hard. I know it sounds like common sense, but you'd be surprised at how many people don't take the time to say thank you for things. Especially another's time. A friendly gesture and a solid body of work got my career in illustration and lettering rolling. Since then, I've used this philosophy with pretty much everyone that I work with.
And so, my advice for each of you this week: Always speak kind words with a gentle heart. If you're emailing an artist you look up to, be sure you really think out your words. Are you demanding information? Are you resentful of their career? Both not good things to have in your inquiry. If you're emailing an artist about a project that you want them to work on, be sure to use the same approach. Sometimes you'll be surprised by the response to kindness.