Friday 10 September 2021

Rich T's...Tips and thoughts for creatives

Friends, colleagues, family and LinkedIn connections ask for advice for their offspring and themselves.

Often I am contacted after my BECTU sessions by all ages, and asked for advice and career guidance, or educational paths and direction.

Always CVs and Folios are always happy to help.

I have mentored professionally and met some wonderful people, and even was a mentor at Abbey Road's first ever 48 hr Hackathon!!!

That was incredible.

Every time, I get a new sense of perspective and learn a little more.

Mentor someone today.


If transitioning from a Trades person to an Artisan, or and Artist to the God head...either way.

Just do it.

Do not let others lack of understanding stop you.

Be the dancing star.


We all have enquiries and clients that call in the first instance and you have a chat, check availability etc and off they go...they have a good think, and think, ooh, I must ring back and ask some more questions/get clarity.

They call a second time and dig a bit deeper.

Your turn to take control, I state clearly at this point, once the project is outlined, my day rate, day length, expenses and terms (7 days FYI). Then I say, very politely, when you call back again (3rd time) I will presume I am onboard and invoice for day 1.

In real life, this works out great and converts to live projects most of the time.

Clarity and honesty count.

Use it!


Stop making no sense Rich!

No but, honest, it does.

Very often people look at my projects and state, "I don't understand what links them all together"?

My wide skill sets, abilities and experience does confuse people, I get that, always have.

But, look at it like this; If everyone understood what I did, then I would literally be doing nothing special and certainly not much I could charge for.

And I do do special.

Make sure it is that 5% you talk to, or, even better, that seek you out.

To do that you need to start competing with no one but yourself.

It has nothing to do with arrogance, but a lot to do with self belief and self determination.

Be the awesome. Be discovered. Be.



Are you NUTS?

Where will that get me...?

Well, even though research says blaggers get ahead more in life, I prefer the honest approach!

Be polite and kind but be very, very strong.

When you say NO, mean it.

Be sure that when people test your resolve they learn it sticks.

Never let them mistake politeness for weakness.


Sometimes a client will say..."can you just quote this, and this and..."

NO! Say no and tell them, define what you actually need, or pay me for my time to do this as part of the project development, I am not here to waste my time on your indecision.

Be strong.

DO NOT let people waste your time, unless they are paying for it!

You know what your weekly or daily overheads are (you should), and you know 2 good crew and you cost X amount a week. That's your core cost on a proper build.

Rough out 1 week, 2 weeks plus logistics costs and materials and processes and do a quick blocking out first.

This will scare off the none serious and check the resolve of the more serious! 


An extension of the 95%...

Do not fear being an artisan, doing awesomeness. OWN IT!

Be you, the stick of rock through and through.

Let them understand you and your work. 

Let them follow you to your destination.

Let them be.


Eventually you will collect a small tribe of great clients that love and trust you.

This is crucial.

Client relations should not be a constant bun fight, only occasionally :-) 

Eventually they will come to you and just ask you to sort their issue or project and even the budget may not get mentioned.

That's great.

Special and great.

Aim for it.


It is how you handle others reflects how they think and handle you.

Learn to set boundaries, check they are followed.

Anyone that is not onboard your train of thought...lost them at the next stop!

It should be a form of warm collaboration. Not attrition, learn to tell the difference.

Keep sorting your clients, projects and associations until things align.




Let me explain; IF you are doing amazing work, being innovative and super shiny special...then don't expect many people to relate to it.

Why would they?

This includes potential clients and collaborators.

It is important to clarify this to them and explain you will be taking them along on this next journey of discovery, to new lands (and additional expenses) and stunning vistas.

They have to, and must TRUST you to do this.

No discussion.

Not all clients are equal.


Why would anyone suggest you fire the people paying your bills?

Actually, it's more specific than that, fire the one's that are NOT paying your bills.

The ones that are rude, or tricky, slow payers and time wasters. 

The one's that ring for a chat to discuss a new idea far too often, and never commit.

These people are costing you money, not helping you earn it.

Learn the important distinction between a client that wants you and your service and just a client. 

Very important to work out the difference.

Vital for your survival, in fact.

When you start to do this, you are then left with amazing clients, there is LOVE in the room and things are so much...better!


I say this a lot, and people look at me funny.

It means that no matter how high concept your idea, your art, unless the idea can go from that to a thing or executable reality (artifice, a thing created) then it may not work.

The finest of artists do not need to be Engineers. But it is best if they have an understanding of physical realities and processes and time, a useful dimension too.

In my experience and understanding this drives their creativity to new heights, encouraging conceptual leaps and innovation.

The finest of Artists throughout history have, generally exhibited technical bravura. 

Michelangelo and his studio created stunning artistic and technical sculptures.

The Dutch masters knew how to create and mix their paints and pigments.

The genius that was Josiah Wedgwood spent years perfecting his technical understanding of through colour body ceramics before being able to even start replicating the Portland vase...

Talking big about this idea and that idea sounds great, but what is the end result?

Ideas can be powerful and create movements and philosophy, of course...but art is a thing to be shared.

Make it something.


My projects are often incredibly rushed, time tight or have other issues that mean I cannot afford to wait for normal delivery or transit options.

When I quote for such, I ALWAYS allow a lot more for couriers, fast delivery and the like and this can add considerably to even a small element or build, and do outline this to my clients.

Having to run around grabbing supplies, parts and talent locally rinses time available (and can of course be delegated) but that time and effort needs covering in the budget costing.

Equally, when creating amazing things and delicate items, it is easy to forget that a crate and support structures can sometimes be half the entire project, timewise and indeed a lot in cost too.

Further, as items are expedited and shipped via containers for example, good understanding of safe loading, soft protection (carpet strips, blankets and the like) and the difference between a forked load and handball option are vital.

Having once had a special build cook in its shipping container as it was trailered across a hot desert...asking questions like where and when will this item travel can unblock problems early on and affect the cost and approach to creating it.

There is always so much to consider and losing a beautiful thing to poor handling or packaging is a tragedy, easily prevented with planning and foresight.


Lots of people state they are artists or conceptualists...but what do they actually mean?

Understanding what each role covers, or might include is useful.

I often have conversations where a person is full of ideas, myriad thoughts and suggestions, but, they can mean little without the experience or understanding to back them up.

However it is important to not assume everyone must know everything to have a valid idea. This would limit #creativity.

Conceptualists, like many fine artists will, occasionally throw their hands up in the air when asked how something might be achieved. That's OK, as it is other peoples job or role to interpret and make good these ideas.

Mine, for example (I call myself an #experiential #technologist).

Technical solutions often terrify people (apart from coders...) but being able to make answers accessible and warm edged is key.

For example, I had a phone call this morning perfectly fitting this scenario for a super client and project, and have them often.

It's a lovely professional intersection to work in, clarifying complex things for exciting projects!


Wednesday 2 September 2020

BECTU Bitesize ZOOM session note PDFs:

I have been having an enjoyable and interesting time during COVID lockdown hosting Zoom sessions for BECTU.

I made crib/note sheets for the attendees and these are shared below.

Hopefully they are useful source/syllabus material for anyone that needs them:

BECTU Bitesize  Professional Skills 101 The Freelance Framework

BECTU Bitesize Special Effects 101 Introduction to Special Effects, Including Film & Experiential

BECTU Bitesize Special Effects 102 Miniatures_Models in Film & TV

BECTU Bitesize Special Effects 201 Coordinating the Magic

With an updated and additional talk to assist those looking for work in new careers or transitioning after the COVID19 job crisis in the creative/freelance industries.

BECTU Bitesize / Professional Skills: 'From FTC to_Freelance...'

A further updated "Freelance Framework" presentation focusing on handling clients from first contact, discussing budgets and ensuring one gets paid, among other things: