Why do you read this blog? To get information, right? To get answers to your questions?
Let me just make this clear: I do not make my living off blogging, not here and not at my own blog. I make my living as a designer and illustrator and my blogging is a culmination of my wanting to help people, meet other industry folks, display my work, rant to people who have shared the experience and can empathize, and engage myself and others in interesting conversations. I’m not going insult you by trying to lie and tell you that all my motives are completely altruistic. Even people who donate millions of dollars to charities do it for the resulting tax break and the warm fuzzy feeling of do-good-ing. I gain a lot of benefits too–the top one being some of the amazing people I’ve met that I never would have otherwise.
So what’s my point? My point is that sharing my experience with you is not my job. I’m not obligated to do it. But under the right circumstances, I enjoy it immensely.
One of my favorite things to do is have coffee with a colleague and have some great conversation. Yesterday was awesome–three hours, great fellow designer, some snark Oscar fashion talk, some industry griping, some troubleshooting and offering advice (both ways), some good coffee, and plans to carpool to the LA Textile Show together next month.
So approach me–I do want to get to know you. And if I can, I want to help you too, but trust me, everyone has boundaries and expectations of professional behavior. You can only win by being respectful–in all things.
Your first email needs to be professional. After we’ve established a relationship, sure, bypass that final grammar check, but I’m not the only who won’t take you seriously if you email me like ur on im omg can u help me???? how cum no 1 will hire me??? No way in a million years will I refer you to any of my industry contacts. r u kidding me???? Go buy a vowel and a clue.
You are in no position to be demanding. Would you ever approach a fabric guy and say, “Ok, tell me everything I need to know about all your fabrics. No, I’m not going to buy any, I’m just trying to pry all the information out of you to start my own business.” Count the milliseconds before the fabric guy would toss you out the front door. Email me on my recommendations on books and let’s have a conversation–tell me what you have, what you like, what you don’t like, and be specific. “I’m trying to learn more about dyeing silks, and book X didn’t give me what I was looking for. What would you recommend?” Do not ask me to regurgitate all the information I have from having read all those books. Book reports are for lit majors.
Check your sense of entitlement at the door. You are not entitled to me sitting for five hours typing out all the knowledge I have in my head, especially if you ask me to “do it really soon cuz i’m totally on a deadline”. You know what I don’t understand? How being polite and professional became old-fashioned. There’s a line between bold and rude–don’t cross it.
Note: Just because I respond to you with a link from a older blog post of mine does not mean I’m brushing you off. It ONLY means I’ve already written about it and I’m directing you to information I don’t want to retype.
Yes, I’ll probably come across as a crankypants in this post, but I don’t care. If you think this post is nasty, you’re in the wrong business. I write this with your best interest in mind. You want to succeed as a designer? An entrepeneur? You absolutely need to be polite and professional, especially when soliciting free help. You’d be amazed at the doors you can open for yourself just learning to introduce yourself properly. First of all, I’ll be more inclined to give you a more in-depth answer to your questions and I’m easier (in that regard) than a lot of industry professionals I know.