design freelancing life tips & tricks

Gibbs’ Rules For Freelancers– rule #9

If, like me, you are a fan of NCIS, then no doubt you are aware that there is a set of rules (50, to be precise, although as of January 2010, we have only been given less than half, and not in any particular order) that Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs lives by. Periodically they’re mentioned or referenced, and, thanks to the wonders of the internet, folks far more obsessive and anal-retentive about these things than I have collected them. Well, it occurred to me one night that some of these “rules” can be adapted and applied to the lives and work of designers, and freelancers in particular. In the spirit of the show, I will also discuss these from time to time in a random manner.

Without further ado, the first installment of what I’d like to call “Gibbs’ Rules For Freelancers.”

Gibbs' rules for design

Rule #9. Never go anywhere without a knife (from episode 1.13, “One Shot, One Kill”)

A knife, in this case, may not be necessary (although a lot of folks, myself included, occasionally carry a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman-type tool). However, designers– and freelancers in particular– would do well to carry a USB flash drive.
It’s simple, really. There may be times when you’re working on-site and have to take files with you. Maybe you go to an initial meeting with a potential new client and end up picking up some business before leaving their office. They want you to take their logo, maybe some documents you’ll need as part of the brief. Having a flash drive with you would certainly make things easier. There wouldn’t be the need to have anything emailed (which, considering the recent rash of issues some designers and bloggers have experienced, could be a hazard). There would be less of a need to commit another password to memory because files need to be FTP’d. The client wouldn’t have to burn a disk for you to take.

You could also look at it as “being green”. You wouldn’t necessarily need to burn disks to take files to a local printer or copy center. Just dupe them to your thumb drive and have them copy it off to their machines.

My flash drives

Personally, I have 3 that I’ve picked up over the last 5 years– a 256MB that I rarely use, and my two workhorses: A 1GB and a 2GB drive– and I rarely leave the house to go anywhere without at least one of these. On them I carry PDFs of my resumé and a one-sheet of work samples.

These days flash drives have become so inexpensive that it’s almost silly for designers or other creative professionals to not have one. If you have one and haven’t really put them to use, maybe it’s time to reconsider. If you don’t have one, you’d do well to invest in one.

art daily365 life randomness

Create Something Every Day (#daily365)– Jan 27

Today’s #daily365 is a bit late, but that’s just because I started it really late (I’ve always felt it’s my civic duty to listen to the State of the Union). I set out with a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but while watching an old NCIS episode on cable (which is, BTW, one of my favorite shows) I was inspired by “the rules” (if you’re a fan of the show, then you know their importance) and decided to run with that. Oh, and in the same way Gibbs’ “rules” have been presented, I also chose to lay them out out of order.


We all need rules to live by... ©2010 rafael armstrong
art daily365 life randomness

Design Something Every Day (#daily365)– Jan 25

Another day where, no matter how much I racked my brain, nothing wanted to crystallize itself. Sure, I could have lied about it and used one of the random pieces I have done that are floating in my HD and be done with it. But, in the end I’d be cheating myself of the long-term benefits of the challenge.

So, when I resolved not to warm up and serve leftovers and instead cook something every night, even if it was bologna on hand*, this came together.

©2010 rafael armstrong

I think it sums up where my mind is at the moment…

*For the record, “bologna on hand” was an expression I heard Scott Ian (from Anthrax) use to describe how broke the band members were when they started out. The visual has stuck with me for years.

art daily365 life randomness

Design Something Every Day (#daily365)– Jan 20

Today’s #daily365: The backstory

I had high hopes for dinner tonight. I was cooking tuff that I’ve made countless times: pork chops, rice & beans (I’m Puerto Rican.  Rice & beans– or arroz con habichuelas— are a must from time to time). The beans came out fine (we’re off to a good start!). Then, as I was checking a text message, the chops got slightly over-charred on one side (no major worries). And the rice, which I (thought) had added more than enough water, ended up dry and salty (greeeeaat).

Today’s DSED is a visual representation of how I felt with dinner tonight.

undewhelmed-- ©2010 rafael armstrong

A burger and a shake later on isn’t something that’s entirely out of the picture.

As always, your feedback is much appreciated.

branding life

Branding advice from a grade-schooler

A quick anecdote of something that happened a week or so ago…

True story– I had to do some banking at Chase about a week ago, and because it was in the afternoon, I took my 6 year-old with me, rather than wait until the morning to go. Now, whenever we visit the bank, the tellers will give her a lollipop– usually red. This time, however, she got a blue something-or-the-other flavor. We completed out transaction and went on our way. When we got in the car, she commented that she liked the blue better than the red. I aked her why, and she replied that “the blue matches the bank better.” I asked her why she thought the blue “matched” better, and she replied that “the color of the bank is blue, so the blue lollipop matches better.”

And with that one sentence, my first-grader showed a keener understanding of branding than some business-owners out there.

life randomness

Happy freelancer, cheesy young’un

I just finished reading today’s post on Freelance Review titled “How happy freelancers beat the home office blues” (a link to the post is here), and it reminded me of something I jotted down a long while back. Here it is, in all its unabashed cheesery.

BTW– Bear in mind that it was written back in Sept of ’96 (when I was just 22 years old), so please, be gentle.

Ten Different Ways to Spruce Up Your Day!

  1. Say hello (or extend a smile) to a complete stranger.
  2. Pet a dog or a cat.
  3. Whistle.
  4. Smile. They cost nothing, but boy, are they worth a lot. (see #1)
  5. Stop for a minute and look at the sky. Pick out shapes and characters in the clouds.
  6. Buy something nice for yourself– even if it’s just buying a piece of gum.
  7. Remind yourself that there are people in the world worse off than you.
  8. Take off your shoes and wiggle your toes.
  9. Nap.
  10. Remember: If everything seems to be going wrong, things can only get better.