Archive for September, 2015

Real Gratification

September 22, 2015

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I enjoyed my time in my previous job.  It was humbling to know that what one could produce with the mind through creative problem solving and a bit of technical know-how, was worthy of a team, and as a paid service for T-shirt designs.  What topped it all off and made it even better for me, was when we started specializing in taking in design requests for campaigns/fund raisers.  It was a completely new challenge compared to just designing shirts for random events like Barbecues, Bachelorette parties, Reunions, etc.

We started taking in designs that had even deeper sentimental values to the customers that were requesting them.  The various requests touched on the entire spectrum of life, from new-borns to memorials.  Knowing the sensitivity of the design context, being the guinea pig of the project, I had to take a different approach to my execution and nervously make sure that I portray the subjects the best way I possibly can and do them justice as an illustration.  Although I was aware that the designs didn’t determine whether or not people would support a meaningful cause, I still wanted to make it compelling enough to have a memorable visual aid to help encourage the support.  As a result, aside from the campaigns being successful, the feedback I’ve received throughout these illustrations have been both humbling, amazing, and have been absolutely the most gratifying part of doing my job.  From what I can recall, customers have thanked me directly, have been brought to tears, and some even had the illustrations tattooed on them.

My previous job’s site was known to post live, unedited feedback, based on customer surveys from their orders.  I remember in one of our company wide meetings, our CEO mentioned that feedback like “My experience was great!” didn’t quite cut it anymore for him.  He wanted to hear feedback something along the lines of “These shirts have been life changing…” and he wanted to know that our services touched customers where it really counts.

Little did he know that because of the campaigns, our small team of 6 has been receiving that exact type of feedback directly in our own personal inboxes for quite a while before he mentioned it.  Sometimes as direct phone calls.  Never captured to be posted or shared anywhere.  Only to be seen and heard by the us, the artists.  We had the opportunity to respond directly, to let them know that there’s a real human being on the other end who really cares about their cause, to have a conversation, to hear them passionately tell their stories, from the beginning to end, and really build that special type of relationship with the customer, where the work we do day in and day out touches them where it matters the most, not their pockets.

The piece above is something I’ve been wanting to do ever since we started doing campaigns.  This isn’t all of them, but I’ve been able to find as much of them as I could.  I wanted to do it as a mural, to show the amount of people that are truly appreciative and emotionally affected by our work.  It’s a collection of important memories for these people.  Various stories, from tragic to triumphant and life to death. We just never got around to do it, some people thought it was creepy.  So instead, it’s now a personal piece for me to remember my time there and what my accomplishments and my role with them was really all about.

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Fresh Frames: TOAST

September 22, 2015

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September 9, 2015

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Friday was winding down in our Richmond office when Carrie asked me to take her photo before we headed out for the Labor Day Weekend. She thought to catch me while I was in town since she missed the session last week. I said “Of course!” It was about 4:45pm, I was slowly wrapping up, but I didn’t hesitate. So I grabbed my cam and set up lighting as she went to prep herself. We shot for a few minutes, reviewing as we went. She said “I wish I woulda straightened my hair!” I told her to take her time and I’d stay as long as she wanted until she’s happy. She said it was ok, so we proceeded and took a few more shots “for the road”.  As we scrolled through the pics, she said “Aww, I like that one!” I said “Yea? Ok, IMG_6226” and wrote it in my moleskine. I told her I’d send her the best 2 with her fave 6226 for her to choose from on Tuesday. She jokingly requested that I photoshop her face so it doesn’t look too shiny. I said that she looked great and said “Don’t worry, I got you!” She said she couldn’t wait to see them, then thanked me, smiled, and went on her way as we both bid adieu for the 3-day wknd.

Those were the last moments I’d spend with Carrie.

That very next morning she was fatally struck by a car while cycling in Hanover. I received the tragic news the next day from my close friend Chun, and I could not believe it. I felt sick to my stomach. Her photos were the last recorded photos on my camera that week.

This is IMG_6226. Carrie’s fave. What was meant to be just an updated headshot has become her most recent and final photo ever captured, for us to memorialize her, as an Impact Maker, as a daughter, a sister, a colleague, as my friend, as an overall amazing and inspiring person. I felt terrible the rest of the weekend. But then felt that it was only right that I shared it with her family and colleagues during a remembrance circle Tuesday morning. It was accepted with much gratitude and love despite the tragic turn of its intended use. Although it’s extremely difficult, with much support, I’ve been encouraged to take these moments as a privilege to honor Carrie Wortham’s legacy.

She will be missed.

Out with the old…

September 9, 2015

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It’s about time I recycle this old blogsite FKA “hiphopanonymo.us”.  I’ll be using this space mainly to document some of my new work, and other random posts similar to my previous posts.  Just not necessarily entirely revolving around the hip-hop culture.  Stay tuned if you’re interested.

-B