Monday, April 23, 2012

Living Lean... not the lovin' part yet

I'm hoping this leads to a wrap. It's so hard for me to condense all the events that have led me to this point. And I tend to get distracted... really easily. 

So, the winds of change are ripping through me as I stand at this particular crossroad and evaluate my options (or lack thereof). I've considered going freelance but I have to be honest and say that my preferences and, more importantly, my strengths are on the technical side of what happens between design and the placing of ink on paper. 

I can do design well enough but there are giants in the land that carry degrees (this is often a requirement) plus many of them know html, CMS, CSS and whatever else needed for web design; these skills are often thrown in as an asset. Personally, I see web design as a separate trade from prepress which is a separate trade from design. Apparently, one has to wear many hats in the digital world of print these days. I have no formal training in design and I've never had the opportunity to learn web design. As well, I've been basically flying solo for the past seven years. Make that 7.5 years, but who's counting? That's like 100 years in today's digital world of change.

I do have key technical skills many designers are lacking when it comes to preparing for putting ink on paper. I know spreads and chokes, rich blacks, creep, pagination, knockouts, overprints, metallic inks, dies, imposing perfect bound vs. saddle stitch magazines, dealing with cross-overs and yada, yada, yada. I critiqued designer's work so it would come through the other side as intended. It was critical for jobs to be 100% correct when it hit the presses. Press down time meant hundreds of dollars per hour lost in production. In 20 plus years, I went from analog prepress (a five year apprenticeship) to digital prepress - producing colour proofs, bluelines, film and plate making, and finally the transition of computer to plate (CTP). All manner of troubleshooting was required along the way and everything had a tight deadline. I had to know a lot of stuff. As you can see, I have learned valuable skills and, yes, I really can pull off reasonable design work. If only I could get my foot in the door. 

Now, here is the major hurdle... a major beef that I could rant endlessly about. I don't read French, write French or speak French. It matters not that I may not be dealing with the public directly, that I would be working alongside colleagues that are bilingual. It matters not that the majority of New Brunswickers are Anglophones. The powers that be have decided to make this fine province officially bilingual. And that coveted diploma I obtained? Useless. It's just a piece of paper, but that's another rant that I'd rather not get into.  *sigh*

Without French, I'm basically deemed unemployable unless I want to work at Subway, Tim Hortons, Home Depot, etc. earning minimum wage, commuting 1.5 hrs each day and losing a week's pay on gas. Factor in a new car payment as my aging car would surely get 'tired' and I would have two weeks of minimum wages to live on but I'd be putting in a 50 hr. week including the travel time. 

I've also learned the ways of the locals (from their mouths to my ears). The jobs that are hard to come by are generally reserved for their 'own', whatever that means. I'm told that 'good' jobs are given to relatives or friends but they have to post the job to the general public by law. I don't know how true that is but I think I might have experienced the bad end of it. I applied for a job that I was fully qualified for and I didn't even get the courtesy of an interview despite my follow up correspondences with them. You see, they had the job posted for TWO months. Seems they forgot it? I did find it odd that the only place it was posted was on Kijiji. 

So... there's that path which looks grim. I'm eyeing a new path that would be like a dream come true but it looks like I'll have to continue this in yet another entry. I tried to condense it but the rant part is feeling good. 


  1. Rant away, baby, all we got are eyes to read it!

  2. Succinct you are not! But then that is a fault of mine as well so you are excused for going on and on...I had no idea you could find a job on kijiji, and to think, all I ever look for are things like snow tires!
    I think I'm due for a rant or two...

  3. What's next?!?! I think you've got a plan but I had no idea what.

  4. Yes... I have a plan. I will get on to finishing this up soon.