*ducks flying fruit*
OK, sorry, I haven't updated this thing for so long that chances are nobody ever checks this anymore, so why I'm writing it is a total mystery, but anyhow. :) I still don't have the net on at home... heck, I barely have a working computer and this aforementioned barely working computer isn't even MINE, so I'm writing from uni on my boyfriend's login.
All that aside... when I said "home" above, I should clear that up. "Home" isn't home anymore - I moved! I moved out of my parents place (second time lucky!) to Brisbane once more, this time to the Northside - Lutwyche, to be exact. I'm the leaseholder of an absolutely gorgeous old Queenslander style house together with my defacto, Robbie Copley. We've made it into a share house and have two tenants currently, both in their mid twenties, older than us (which makes collecting the rent from them kinda weird). Luke is a very tall and grouchy electrician, and Steven is just... strange. *grins* But what would a share house be like without weird inmates... I mean, flatmates. ;)
Hmm, I don't believe Robbie was in my life last time I wrote in this journal, which just shows how long it's been since I've been online! Ugh. :P Well, we've been dating since October last year. We're very much in love, and that's all I'm gonna say about that, because if you get me started on all the reasons, I'll be gushing all day. *laughs* Oh, man, I just realised how this contrasts with my last journal entry... I must have met Robbie only a couple of weeks after I posted that. *scrapes egg off face*
Other stuff has happened... so much, I don't even remember it all! Let's see...
- My job at Liquid Animation ended in early December last year; I'd worked there for about 6 months. Shortly after they let me go, they let everyone else go, even people like Steve Wilson who worked their asses off for that damn company. And although they promised to hire a lot of the others back after Christmas, they didn't, which just goes to prove me completely and totally right about them.
- Deciding to take revenge on Liquid for how they treated me and everyone else, I took them to the Industrial Commission for all the sick leave, holiday leave, and public holiday extra pay I was never paid by them. I won the case, and I'll have a government cheque for $800 arriving within the next week or two. IN YOUR FACE, LIQUID ANIMATION!! Actually, there's a funny story in relation to that...
- Funny story: When the phone call came to tell me of my win, I'd been *ahem* in bed with Robbie. I jumped up and ran into the living room to answer the phone without a stitch of clothes (hey, we were home alone, and the dang thing only rings twice before the answering machine takes it!). As the person on the other end told me the good news, I obviously felt an immense sense of exhilaration, it being a kind of David-and-Goliath scenario and all (I actually had to bite down on my fist, Rimmer-style, to keep from woohoo-ing while I was still on the phone). As soon as the call ended, I turned to Robbie and told him the news, then started leaping around yelling "IN YOR FACE, LIQUID! IN! YOUR! FACE!" Anyhow, I got up to about the fourth "in your face", but only managed to get up to "your-" before I realised that a matronly old woman walking by outside could see me leaping around like a nekked idiot through the window. And I tell ya what, I dove for that couch quicker than a soldier with a grenade in his pants. Oy.
- Back on track now... let's see. So, after Liquid trashed me, I was unemployed for... well, about four months now, seeing as officially I still AM unemployed. Nontheless, I managed to get this new place with Robbie. The street name, believe it or not, is Felix Street. And I'm not blind to the irony of me ending up living in a street named after a cartoon cat. But I tell you what, money-wise, it's been REALLY tough-going. Quite frequently, we're unable to afford food for a day or two, and have to kind of make do with packets of instant soup and whatever dregs are left in the pantry. We ALWAYS scrape in with the rent on time, though. But we're always behind; bills always add up, and it's been so hard that I've cried over it at times. It's been worth it, though - it's even worth sharing our place with two distinctly odd flatmates (I'm sure they feel the same way about us), because I'm with Robbie, and we can't get enough of each other. We're almost literally never apart for a minute. I've never loved anyone like I love Robbie... with the wisdom of hindsight, I can see that my mother was right about how I felt about my first boyfriend... I may have loved him, but I wasn't IN love with him. Still, Nathan wasn't an experience I regret. I learned a lot from him, including more about myself and what I was looking for in a partner. Honestly, I don't believe I've ever had an experience I REALLY regret in my life... I think if something can be learned from it, it's not wasted.
- What else... oh! I've been dieting. On and off, anyhow. ;P I've lost a fair bit, but then I put on a fair bit during my time at Liquid (when my pet rats and food were my only comforts) so I have some ground to make up. Still, I'm doin' well... gonna try to hit my target weight. If I can lose about ten kilos, I'll be perfect. :)
- Job-wise, things are finally starting to look up. I finished my portfolio! For the first time, I have a REAL portfolio, with twenty images, all in color, printed from my parents' computer on a gorgeous photorealistic printer. Being the perfectionist that I am, I can still find a million small problems in it, but I have to be honest and admit it's probably the best thing I've ever done. Over half the images were drawn for it, and can't be found on the net. I've got two images of the Urban Furz characters in there which are just gorgeous - four characters on each page, eight in total.
- To continue on the jobs point, the MOMENT I finished my folio, I made a couple of copies (color copies where I could afford it, B+W where I couldn't) and sent them to some graphic design studios advertising in the paper.
The first job was full-time, for a company called Bright Bots. They're a children's clothing company, and they need someone to design the little characters they put on the clothes. It's very cute stuff... sort of semi-abstract cutesy animals colored in six bright colors. Bright Bots is a backlash against the fact that baby clothes are almost always pastel colors. Every bit of Bright Bots clothing is in one of those 6 bright colors (I know this because, according to Robbie, the woman who interviewed me said the phrase "6 bright colors" about ten times) and the brand is Australia-wide, and has recently spread to Europe. Since doing the first interview, I've come across a few people who have two-year-old siblings / children and have commented that their kid wears that brand. My brother's girlfriend Jess has a two-year-old brother, and she got all excited about the possibility of him wearing an outfit with a little design on it drawn by me. :)
And that possibility is not so remote, it seems. After sending in my portfolio to apply for the job, I was called in for an interview. At the interview, I was told that they'd had a lot of applicants and were narrowing down the field by getting people to do four designs for them (colored in Photoshpo) and email them in. So I went home, did my four designs, went to my parents to color and email them on the weekend, and today (Monday) got a phone call from Bright Bots telling me to go in for another interview on Wednesday.
Now, I know it's not an animation job. But the fact is, animation jobs are in a distinct shortage at the moment (unless you're willing to accept unreliable crumbs of work here and there as a freelancer, which, due to our current financial situation, I can't do). I want to do this job to give myself experience in the graphic design field, so that in future, when animation jobs fall through, I'll always have something to fall back on.
I'm planning to become a freelancer with an ABN (Australian Business Number) and registered business name (I'll tell you once I've registered it) so that I CAN effectively freelance from now on, though. Because even if I DO get this full-time job at Bright Bots, I plan to do some freelancing on the side. The money's good, and people have basically been throwing jobs at me lately.
For instance, late last year, when I went to get my Tara Moss drawing scanned in a photo processing shop, the girl behind the counter saw it and said she was planning to start a T-shirt range, and she would like me to design the logo when the time came. So I gave her my number and thought nothing more of it. A couple of weeks ago, she actually called. Her shirt range is called "PyroKitty" - it's techno clothes - and she needed someone to design the logo for her. She's considering me and a 3D computer artist. I have a feeling she'll go with the 3D artist because his rates are probably lower, but she told me over the phone that even if she gets the initial design done in 3D, she'll want me to do later designs in the range.
Aside from that, the second Graphic Design job I applied to in the paper came up with something for me as well. I didn't get the actual job, but they called me in and asked me if I'd like to design some Karaoke DVD covers for them - caricatures of famous singers. Just today they gave me the brief for the first one, the cover of which has to include Sonny and Cher, Billy Joel and Elton John, colored in Photoshop and burned onto a CD for them. They supplied the blank CDs, and my little brother has a CD burner, so it'll be yet another trip up the coast to my parents' place this weekend to use the computer facilities there. It's a pain to have to keep going up there to use the computer when I really should be going up there just to visit my parents, but as soon as the money starts coming in, I'm going to get myself a decent computer system outta the trading post. Robbie thinks we can wrangle something (box only - we've already got monitor, keyboard, etc) for around $600. Speaking of money, I'm being paid $50 per character for this DVD cover, which is $200 total. Looking at the project brief and the style of coloring they want, I can tell right now it'll only be about a day's work for me, so $200 for a single day's work isn't bad. They told me ("They" are the MRA Entertainment Group, which I forgot to mention up until this point, sorry) I can negotiate a higher rate for future projects if they like this first DVD cover. There are at least three others after this one. :) I think I'll just ask a round $250 each for the other three, plus a copy of each of the finished DVDs. *grins* My mum likes Karaoke, and I can just photocopy each cover and put it straight in my portfolio.
Let's see... OK, other work that's leaped out at me over the past week or two is with Frames Animation. That's the company started by Horst Viola and Arthur Filloy, two great guys, gurus of the Aussie animation industry whom I worked alongside with at Liquid for a while (until Arthur quit in disgust, I left in disgust, and finally Horst joined us in, you guessed it, disgust).
They've just gotten a nice big project from the USA - a series of Coco Pops ads. They've slightly redesigned the Coco Pops monkey, and they're doing the animation for it. They've farmed some of the inbetweening out to me - seven seconds of the first ad (which is 30 seconds total), and probably the same amount of the second ad. I'll be paid freelancer rates, roughly $120 per second of completed animation.
Arthur and Horst can probably never give anyone full-time work, though. They don't like the "pyramid" structure of regular businesses; they don't like anyone in the team being higher up than anyone else. So what they've done is formed what they call an "animation co-operative": they go looking for big jobs, and then they let all us ("us" being the people on their contact list, of which I am one of the fortunate few) have pieces of the work. And we get paid directly from whoever Horst and Arthur got the work from, so we get full freelance rates and H & A don't take anything out of it. They told me that they get something out of this deal too - it enables them to take on the big jobs they can't do alone, but at the same time, they don't have to form a full-on studio with all the downsides that go with it. So basically, everyone wins.
There's more freedom in this system, too - I can work from home if I choose, as long as the work's in on time. I may yet choose to do that, as I've now got the animation desk my carpenter uncle Mark built for me set up in my bedroom at Felix Street. VERY handy. At the same time, I may choose to do some of the work at Arthur's place - he and Horst have set up the back room as a mini animation studio with just a few desks. The natural lighting and ambience is fantastic, and Arthur lives in the most beautiful house I've ever seen in my entire LIFE, inside AND out. It's not a mansion, but it IS big, and it's just charming. The backyard is gorgeous, the interior is just wonderful in that old Queenslander way that I love so much, and it's only one street away from the Brisbane River.
While I was there hashing out the whole Coco Pops thing with them, I also managed to talk myself into a little extra bit of work, something wonderful - helping Arthur with a storyboard! Arthur knows all there is to know about storyboards; he's pretty much famous in the Aussie industry for his work in that regard, so to be able to work alongside him and learn from him is just an immense opportunity. And I'll be paid for it too. :)
If I get the Bright Bots job, though, I probably won't be able to do the storyboard thing, 'cos I need to actually work WITH Arthur on that, not alone, and he works mostly during the day. I could still offer to come over at night and help out, though, free of charge, just to get the experience! That would look amazing on my resume.
So anyhow, that's pretty much that. I'd better hurry up and get an ABN, because it seems I'm becoming a freelancer almost against my will. People are practically throwing work at me - according to Robbie, I'm officially "In Demand". And all I wanna say is this: WHERE WERE ALL YOU PEOPLE THREE MONTHS AGO???
Of course, I didn't have a portfolio doing the rounds out there back then, so that may explain it...
So things are pretty good. Well, until all this money actually comes through, Robbie and I are as poor as ever, but at least we know it's coming, now. It's a big comfort. Things are really looking up. :)