Friday, April 30, 2010

The Freelance World

by Muid Latif, Edited by Angelia Ong

Many magazines or online portals encourage young, creative individuals to go freelance. According to these publications and others, freelancing is considered as the latest creative career trend, but they fail to enlighten us about the challenges that we would have to go through in order to survive, especially during the current global economic turmoil.

What they do teach us are merely short term advice and knowledge-sharing. They persuade creative individuals (such as designers, photographers, film-makers, etc) that with a killer portfolio or certain skill sets, you can win awards to get recognized, and expand your clientele beyond belief. Unfortunately, not all have these kinds of privileges due to lack of motivation, moral support and a comfortable environment that surrounds them.

However, they don’t share the harsh reality of what a freelancer have to go through. It is never mentioned what you can do when a client refuses to hire you for superficial reasons, such as ethnicity, political agendas and so. It would be beneficial if these articles would talk about how your business will change once you’ve reached a certain age or parenthood comes a-calling.

As a matter of fact, many freelancers are not equipped with basic knowledge about long term business survival. Just ‘looking good for clients’ is stressed upon, as opposed to ensuring that you also have a solid foundation. The industry does not arm us with knowledge on the following: protecting ourselves, both from legal and copyright standpoints, how to protect our creative work, ensuring payment is on time and our work doesn’t get stolen before payment is made, how to manage projects using a proper management system, how to organize our accounts, managing our taxes and most importantly, how to develop client relationships to gain repeat business. Some would expect to be spoon-feed when you can explore and learn many things from the web and through readings.

With all that is happening in the world today, how can we ensure a promising future? What if a natural disaster strikes us without a sign? Your life is pretty much ‘doomed’ when your workstation washed by a flood or earthquake. How much of your “assets” would you have lost? Do you think that the client would care to acknowledge and understand the situation that you are currently facing? Absolutely not.

What are the measures that can be taken to ensure the security of our work and in turn ensure our future remains less chaotic. That is why we need to take the above perspectives seriously. We need to care about things that evolve around us and we cannot allow ignorance to destroy our very own careers.

As of today, many freelancers who step into this creative industry are mostly fresh graduates who have had zero experience in this industry and the only thing going for them now is talent and skills. Those two attributes are not enough to ensure that a professional and pleasant attitude will be provided by them towards a client. This may have an adverse effect as then people may become reluctant to hire freelancers or small scale design business.

All they lack is guidance and mentor support. Colleges or art schools do not teach their students about fostering good relationships, about discipline, about working ethics, about how to write documents such as project briefs, contact reports, or following up with clients feedback and requests, and most importantly, they have no clue how to quote an appropriate figure for their efforts and work. That is why a lot of freelancers these days does not have decent time management and are always swamped with projects and this only hampers the growth of the creative industry.

For example, we have art directors or designers who have permanent jobs in an agency, yet still go out to do freelance while there are freelancers who are struggling to compete. Sometimes this greed forces these freelancers to lower their prices, just to compete against those who already have a fully paid day job. Sadly, some freelancers dropped their creative rates so much so to design a logo for just $50 dollars or $300 for a website, or worse still do things for free. This is killing the market. Clients would go for the cheaper alternative or failing which, badger you over your professional rates, based on their “market research”.

Is this how a healthy creative industry is supposed to work? What about the SME (Small Medium Enterprise) companies out there? They also have to find ways to financially support their project managers, copywriters, designers, programmers, accountants and others. Should we allow ourselves to affect the balance of the creative economy?


Monday, April 26, 2010

As We Borrow This Body from Heaven

My years of being a designer had definitely destroyed my biological clock. As a result, most of us, including myself had became unstable; emotionally and health.

Conditionally we are aging slowly and unconditionally, our passion still runs in our blood stream that allow us to do more stuff than we ever expected. We are frequently experiencing insomnia and our mind keep distributing ideas and creativity more than just a normal person due to our excellent gift of visualizing things through our mind.

This ability, to this day I would say it's rather impressive and each day i began to felt thankful and grateful that God allow me to use this body that I borrowed from Heaven.

Long ago I had talked about "Creative Breakdown", but now, i'm not sure if i'm experiencing the same thing this time of the day. I cannot define why in mind I wanted to do many things but my body just keep lagging.

So tell me, does our age makes our creativity drain out or we are just in denial of not to perform due to our unorganized time and efficiency?

What's A Daily Life of Mine?

Make toast in the morning, make up bed, shower, laundry, wash dishes, send kids, watch news/TV, read magazine and off to work. At night, I will normally spend time to engage contacts through social networking to release some stress and later resume back work. I will normally sleep in the office if i'm too lazy. But I don't even know if the word lazy ever existed in my dictionary because it seems a lot of tasks keeps consuming my time and energy that I won't be able to focus entirely at work.

For now, I have:
  • Judging for CUTOUT Magazine Cover Design Competition & Talk at Dasein Art College
  • Finish Atilia's Indah Album Art Cover & Perintis Website
  • Send Taman Tamadun Islam revise updates to GreenMelon
  • My lyrical dance performance for World Dance Day at MAPKL, Solaris Dutamas on the 30th
  • Kuala Lumpur Design Week on 1st week of May,
  • Digital Malaya Project Showcase & Talk at Petronas Gallery on 22nd May
  • Solo/Group Exhibition in Penang Art Museum June 2010

There's so many things I left out, so much things to do, even in this very stage I'm looking for creative interns to work with us at Digital Nusantara. *Sigh*. I don't even know if I do have a Personal Assistant (PA) when I did remember hiring one under my company. Am I just too unfocused to do anything? Or I just have to stop, retired without money (only depend on EPF retirement) or I work in a different corporate environment. God knows.

Some 'refreshment' impromptu dance video for my upcoming public performance at MAP KL, Solaris Dutamas this 30th April in conjunction of World Dance Day!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Engagement of Mutuality Through Toleration

Drama, don't we all love drama in relationship? Everyone loves to show affection to one another during the short month relationship.

Then we start to show our true colors. There's arguments, question trust & doubts, why there's lack of attention, how it takes two to tango and etcetera. Because of these short-temper tantrum, we forget about being grateful and appreciate for the past things that both did to make relationship works. We expect things to much that we disvalue our ethics and our principe to believe in love without expectation, thus, everything falls apart and we start pointing fingers without blaming ourselves first.

I see all around me and most of them inspired me through their commitment. I myself cannot commit to such responsibility because I have a curse for it. The things I've done in the past, I have to admit it's been horrifying and each time I look back and evaluate, i felt embarrassed and ashamed of myself for being to obnoxious and paranoid, hence I am the one who actually broke my trust; to trust myself and let it flow the way it is, mainly because I am desperate to disallow myself to be confined with solitary. But I learn that I should scrap my habit of impressing a person to much about my ability and capability, because at the end of the day, when a person really like you, they will like you entirely for who you are, without you having to go and make yourself appeal and constantly crave for attention that you are a worthy person. Sometimes you are making yourself transparent and let others felt uncomfortable by your personality. It make you look dumb (yes I was talking about me too you know, haha).

But I like to change. I like to experiment myself, not in Lindsay Lohan way! If a person that i'm involved with can't change, I have to change. I have to find ways so that others will be inspired.

If not things wont work out, eventually it will end up in a horrible breakup. We don't want that do we? We don't want to be hated. We want to be loved and admired before and after. I learn that when we impressed a person that we like or when we started a relationship, it should be beautiful at the end.

But like I said, since most of us love drama, we love to brag or tell people that we've gone through hell. It's embarrassing the first thing when we fell in love, 'we cross ocean for you' and when we broke up 'let the shark consume your evil heart'. (I'm reminding myself as I've been through this situation before).

Then I met my best friend Vic. We had a long discussion about life, love and relationship and I would agree with her about forgiving and forget. We all heard about 'Forgive But Not Forgotten'. That 'wise quote' actually shouldn't be used because it shape ourselves to set a little hatred and revenge.

So one night, I had my prayer and I made my doa to God that I forgive everyone who had hurt me and had damaged my emotion to love. Believe me, after that prayers, my heart became lighter and i stop thinking about some past of mine that is so painful. It seems to go away.

I even had a chat with my long online friend who had become close friend, Rizal, about my personality expressed through social networking. Most of feedback I received; How furious I am, how negative I was when I put my status message. I do realize that it made me such vulnerable person and somehow kept repeating over and over again. But I am glad that I am aware of it and felt that I want to change. At least i'm not in denial! LOL Well, in a way I'm glad to have some friends who are honest to help spot my weakness so I am more self conscious and will make myself improve to become a better person.

Life can be so simple if you make it simple. I hope I can achieve that from time to time. God willing :-)

Have a nice day to all and everyone. Peace be upon you.

Here's something beautiful from Alanis Morissette's 'Hand In My Pocket'

I'm broke but I'm happy
I'm poor but I'm kind
I'm short but I'm healthy, yeah
I'm high but I'm grounded
I'm sane but I'm overwhelmed
I'm lost but I'm hopeful baby

What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be fine fine fine
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five

I feel drunk but I'm sober
I'm young and I'm underpaid
I'm tired but I'm working, yeah
I care but I'm restless
I'm here but I'm really gone
I'm wrong and I'm sorry baby

What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be quite alright
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is flicking a cigarette

And what it all comes down to
Is that I haven't got it all figured out just yet
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving the peace sign

I'm free but I'm focused
I'm green but I'm wise
I'm hard but I'm friendly baby
I'm sad but I'm laughing
I'm brave but I'm chickenshit
I'm sick but I'm pretty baby

And what it all boils down to
Is that no one's really got it figured out just yet
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is playing the piano

And what it all comes down to my friends
Is that everything's just fine fine fine
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is hailing a taxi cab