Should I respectfully decline or just get over myself?
November 5, 2011 9:33 PM   Subscribe

An old friend recently came to me with a job offer. It's to design a few dozen graphics illustrating business concepts that will be put on flashcards. I have no formal graphic design experience -- I've never taken classes or courses -- but I'm talented enough and am fairly well-versed in digital painting. In all respects (money included!) this sounds like a really cool job for me, but I'm worried I won't be able to deliver. Should I take it anyway?

Basically, my whole problem boils down to one thing:

I am a flake. (There, I said it!)

I have a known history of committing to things, letting extreme perfectionism and anxiety get in the way, and subsequently backing out. All the projects I've been involved in so far have been informal things with friends, but they've all fizzled out in one way or another. That's why I was so touched that my friend thought of me for this.

If I take the job, I feel like there'll be a chance (not necessarily big, but still there) that I'll flake out again. If I were still intending on becoming a professional artist as my friend last heard (we haven't talked in quite a while), I would've jumped at the opportunity.

My past and potential future guilt feel like they're eating me alive, and now I just don't know what to do. What do you think, MeFites?

Posted anonymously because my web handle is the same.. everywhere.
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Take the job. Ask you friend if they can give you some guidance, or a production schedule. Maybe that you want a hard deadline for the first one, then discussion and refining, then five more on another deadline, then more discussion and refining, then the other couple dozen once you have a handle on the format/stlye.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:37 PM on November 5, 2011

Take the job. It sounds like you have the skills to do the work. Obviously your friend thinks so, or they wouldn't have asked you.

Also maybe spend a little time down at the beach. You've got a history of getting anxious and of ducking-out on projects. This is an unhealthy pattern. Re-examine the reasons why your earlier projects fizzled. Figure out where the problems begin, so you can nip them in the bud this time around.

Good luck!
posted by rabbitfufu at 10:49 PM on November 5, 2011

As you do more stuff, your flaky:non-flakey ratio will improve, and eventually, presto - you are no longer a flake. You'll only realize it after it's happened. But if you stop doing stuff because you're a flake, you'll stay a flake forever.
posted by tempythethird at 8:39 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Think about what will keep you from flaking. Let your friend know that you haven't done exactly this kind of project before and you want to be sure to keep in close contact to ensure things are coming along they way they want.

Frequent in-person meetings where you show your friend what you have so far?
Frequent deadlines to email samples?
Set a pattern of being in touch frequently, to keep this on your front-burner and keep your expectations/perfectionism in check (remember, you're making a 90% good product that will be finished on time. 90%.).
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:20 AM on November 6, 2011

Set yourself some hard limits. You're only allowed four colors, for instance, and no shading or hatching or blending. I do this in my comics and it is incredibly useful for keeping myself from going overboard.

Get in the habit of hitting the 'view at actual size' hotkey on a regular basis. It's super easy to get lost in the details if you don't do this. Especially for an Illustrator addict like myself. Don't work more than maybe twice up.

Give yourself deadlines. When I was doing a Tarot deck I ended up with a gallery show for it; this meant I ended up having to finish a card every three days, on average.

Perfectionism is a ruiner. I watched an entire TV production sink into the mire because of it. (Word to the wise: when an episode of your cartoon has gone into animation, you do NOT pull it back to square one because you can make it better. Because you've already spent all your budget of time and money on it, and you'll just have to crap out a horrible compromise version of the now-brilliant boards you redid.)

And: Will these be fun to paint? Will you enjoy working on these, even if there was no fear of failing to deliver?
posted by egypturnash at 2:34 AM on November 7, 2011

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