Although this may be hard to believe, given the status of my rising fame on the internets (insert sarcasm here), but I have a regular job. Yes, my job is working for myself as a graphic designer/marketer, but I still do have a real job. Along with this comes stuff that you have to/need to do as a matter of sorts. One of those things is networking with people in the community.
About a year and a half ago, I joined a local networking group. For me, this was totally out of my comfort zone. The group was full of people I don't normally associate with. Mortgage brokers. Bankers. Realtors. Jewelers. Window Cleaners. I always envisioned myself networking with movie directors, TV stars, other graphic designers, animators, model makers and creative types that drank lots of coffee, wore berets and black turtlenecks. So to join this relatively "normal" group was a bit of a stretch for me. But the economy being what it is, I figured the worst that could happen is that I never make any contacts. So I set my expectations low and decided if I made the fees back in referrals (which would account for one, maybe two small jobs) it would be worth it.
One of the requirements of the group is to give a short, 10 minute presentation that tells the others in the group what you do and what kind of referrals you are looking for. It's the equivalent of doing a book report in grade school. You tell people about yourself, what it's like being you and what kind of work would help to keep the biz going.
A few weeks ago, it was my turn to do my 10 minute presentation. I always dreaded this because I always waited until the last minute to prepare mine and inevitably, as I am extemporaneously speaking, I lose my train of thought and end up babbling like a moron. I didn't want that to happen this time around, so I decided to do some major preparation. At DragonCon, I had seen MythBuster Adam Savage give his talk on 100 Wishes. I was so inspired by this talk, not only because of its simplicity (the entire talk was written on index cards and was, as far as I could tell, fool and stagefright-proof), but also because it was so captivating to listen to. I decided to do something similar, but instead of relating my wishes, I wanted my networking group to understand what I do for a living. And, in a rare case, the art and design I do for people on the internets, seemed to mesh seamlessly with what I do for my other clients. So I wrote a list of 50 things I have done for work over the past month. And unbelievably, the list was pretty amazing. The presentation went over very well.
This morning at the meeting, I was presented with a certificate of recognition for my 10 minute presentation. The certificate awarded me for having the best presentation IN THE HISTORY of the group. Needless to say, I was flattered and relieved that people actually liked the talk.
I owe a big thanks to my friends Paul and Storm for their help writing the small theme song for my presentation. I know how extremely busy they have been over the past month and for them to take a few moments out to write a small song for me was nothing less than miraculous. I really believe it was the icing on an already sweet and delicious cake.
And another big thanks goes to Adam Savage for his inspiration for my talk. If you get a chance to see his original 100 wishes talk, do so. It's freaking awesome and inspiring.
What follows is the talk in it's entirety with just a few small changes, due to some proprietary client info. Enjoy!
WHAT I DO
By Len Peralta
I have been a member of this group for over a year now and whenever I do a one-to-one meeting with another member, one of the first things they ask me is "So what exactly do you do?"
So, to explain to my fellow networking partners what it is I do for a living, I put a list together of work-related things I over the last month or so. This list is totally real. I’m not making any of this up. Hopefully, it will give you some insight into what it is I do all day.
1. There was no networking meeting this morning, so I went to work in my pajamas.
2. Several e-mails requesting FlipFaces, the custom avatars I’ve been drawing for people all over the world, have arrived in my mailbox. Since September, I’ve drawn almost 300. What’s another four?
3. One of my clients needs a banner. I do a quick layout in Photoshop and send it over for approval.
4. Spec out a tablecloth for a client trade show that was just handed to me just the day before. By day end, I have them a quote and a digital proof.
5. I field a call from a client who is having trouble working the website we created for them. A few hours and e-mails later, they are back in business.
6. Had a conversation with a Burgeoning Internet Rockstar. He needs something cool to sell at shows. He says Stickers! I say Scratch and Sniff stickers! He thinks I’m a genius.
7. Laid out a literature sheet for a client I was just introduced to the night before. By day’s end, they have a finished product.
8. Tweaked someone’s existing logo. Created a new logo.
9. Drove around Westlake, North Olmsted, Fairview Park and Lakewood and considered visiting each shop that looks like it had their logo done by the owner’s High School nephew and re-doing it for them free of charge. As a designer, seeing no design or thought put into a logo gets under my skin. Must learn to control that.
10. I wrote and edited the copy for a small project I’m working on. Hard to believe this is how I started my career in advertising.
11. Helped a client send out her own e-mail marketing campaign. She found it “empowering”.
12. Worked on pencil sketches for a new book project. The stories are dark, but funny. I’m drawing princesses throwing up, a fountain of teeth pouring form a kids mouth, sewer rats and tombstones.
13. Finished the box art for a playing card game I designed. It’s a fun game about medical malpractice.
14. Met with a client about a new website design. I’m excited because this is unlike anything else I’m working on at the time. It’s for a church and it presents an interesting challenge. Be creative but reverent. I’m thrilled by the possibility.
15. Met with a client who needs literature for a guy in Kansas who helps people write their memoirs. We talk about having him on as a guest of my podcast.
16. Daydreamed ways to make software for theatres sexy and interesting.
17. Worked on the sitemap for the church website. It’s a vital step, like the blueprint for a house. I do this for every website I work on.
18. Helped a start-up fitness instructor continue building her brand.
19. Traded e-mails with a writer in San Francisco who I’m trying to collaborate with on a possible webcomic or graphic novel idea I have. I have no expectations for this project and am purely doing it for the fun of it. Sometimes you just have to do projects like that.
20. Had a conversation with another Burgeoning Internet rock star. This time a duo. They need art for a series of shows in San Francisco and LA. Can you draw robots, they ask. Robots in the style of subversive cartoonist R. Crumb? Pfft, Give me a challenge.
21. Sat down (finally!) and sketched out four new FlipFaces. Inked. Scanned. Into Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and e-mailed back to the respective customers. Elapsed time: One hour.
22. Considered pulling together a cover album of songs for some internet friends of mine.
23. Realized that I have no experience putting together a cover album. Called a podcasting friend in Colorado who is putting together his own cover album. He agrees to shepard me through the process. I chat with him while I walk the dog.
24. See proofs of the stickers that I created for my Rockstar client. They were supposed to smell like banana. They smell like vanilla. I send him the bad news and await his reply.
25. Copies of my books arrive. I instantly started selling them online.
26. Designed the promotional flyers, invitation and reply card for an upcoming fundraiser.
27. Met with a guy whose company designs unique stuffed animals. He has designed a series of bunnies that he calls “Slasher Bunnies” based on iconic horror movie characters. He shows me the prototype at my dining room table. I hand him a bag of gummi brains and test tubes. We start to sell them the next week.
28. My Rockstar client gets back to me about the stickers. “So, they don’t smell like banana, huh?” he says. I tell him maybe we can say they smell like cake. He considers it.
29. For a brief moment, I think it would be fun to someday be in a piefight.
30. Rockstar client calls me back and says maybe we can tell people the stickers smell like “Delicious!” I think we’re close to solving this problem.
31. Drew a Voideux as one of my Monsters By Mail. For those who don’t know a voideux is one of a race of beings made of dimensional darkness with powerful glowing eyes that stare into your soul. Piece of cake.
32. Speaking of cake, I wonder how the scratch and sniff stickers are selling in Chicago. That’s where my Rockstar client is playing this weekend.
33. An email arrives from a gentleman who has seen my art and wants me to design his tattoo sleeve. He wants classic movie monsters coming to life in a graveyard. Sounds like fun. And painful.
34. Drew a creature named The ArachNerd for Monster By Mail. Part nerd. Part Spider. Sometimes I love having the internet as a client.
35. Rockstar client calls me to tell me he has a new job for me. It involves drawing him coming out of a portal and meeting a monkey beefeater and a zombie leprechaun. I think he’s joking. He’s not.
36. Answered an angry e-mail from a guy who wants me to draw 13 separate characters and was annoyed with quote he got from me. I told him this stuff takes time. Then I get into the whole argument of what value is creativity? He doesn’t get it. I don’t plan on hearing back from him again.
37. Zombie leprechaun and Monkey beefeater are sketched and approved. Art is sent to a printer in the UK.
38. Drew a friends cat and tortoise as battling Japanese monsters. Drew their other cat as a small Japanese boy from a Godzilla movie. Once again, gotta love the internet.
39. Laurie LeMay calls me and tells me I need to be bumped up in the speaker rotation. I instantly start panicking.
40. Consider calling my Rockstar friends to write a song for my presentation. This is what they gave me.
41. Wrote this list for my 10 minute presentation instead.
42. Got dressed up to give my presentation. Instead of wearing pajamas. For a change.
And that, my friends, is what I do for a living.