Experiences both bitter and sweet
Trish Phng Keng Boon
Illustration & Visual Media
This term has been overall a DPS with a lot of experience. There has been good developments as well as upsets in my studies so far.
A more bitter subject is something that I would like to talk about first. This regards a commission that I had with a client for the past months of October and November. I was contacted by them requesting me to make a series of prints for their baby daughter, which I had happily agreed to do as this was my first paid commission. I had met up with one of the clients and we discussed about the image I was to make and the cost of my illustrations. Because they were a new family, raising a young baby and in the process of moving country, I decided to set my hourly wage at the London national minimum wage, and telling the client that I would be punching in the hours that was set in the contract to meet the pricing range, and we all agreed.
Developing the images for the clients, I found that it was a slow process, I was given the briefs and requests but I communication was slow, even when I was sending updates through direct messaging. I would send them updates on the sketches and ask for their opinion on, only to wait at most two weeks before they would answer, this made my progression very slow. With the benefit of hindsight, maybe I should have kept working and sending more version to update them, but I really did feel a bit lost as I did not want to send them images that did not have my complete effort, and I was also busy with other works such as my internship with ISCA.
Whenever I do get feedback from the clients, I would do my best and make the changes that they desired such as their babies features being more cartoonish or that they did not want much detail in the background, and I always sent them the updates once I did them. However, as much as I tried I was not making work that they had liked very much, as I discovered. Because they were in the process of moving, so I understood that the prints were not on their top priorities at the moment, and it came to no surprise that they decided to discontinue the commission. They had apologised and thanked me for my efforts, and told me that they would proceed to pay me with whatever time I had put in, which I had calculated was in total 9 hours. I had told them the price and gave them my invoice. However, they sent me an email telling me that they feel that I had only worked 4.5 hours and paid me that amount. I have emailed them back asking for them to elaborate more on their reasons and gave them my reasons for why I think their payment was unfair, as well as a follow up email on whether they have received my previous email, but I have not heard from them since.I am contemplating on taking this case to the university but I am not sure how involved the DPS course can get, as well as whether or not I should just leave this alone. I say this because the clients were contacts from friends and I am worried about how this could affected, and these clients are raising a baby, and this could cause difficulty for them to deal with this and raise a small child, but am I being too soft? Being pushed around by a client who refused to pay me fairly? I should go to the course tutors and discuss this further with them.
The rest of my DPS experience, fortunately, is better. My experience as a screen printing technician in the International School of Creative Arts (ISCA) has been challenging and at times fun. I am learning a lot about what a tutor has to provide for students, and I was amazed at how much tutors have to do on a daily basis and very humbled at how committed they have to be to each and every student. I began to see the other side of things and how much they prepare for a class, or a workshop and learn from them how to provide the proper support for each student.
Another thing that awed me about tutors was the patients that they had for the students, which, I learnt, was something that I have yet to develop for myself. One of the more challenging things I found teaching students screen printing was my patients with them. At times when students do not follow my instructions properly, such as leaving ink to dry on the mesh and not cleaning us the space after, I found myself getting annoyed very quickly and snapped at them, especially when some talk back to me trying to justify the mistake. I was advised by other tutors to be more patients with them and to try and control my emotions when it comes to dealing with students. Being angry and arguing with students isn’t going to help the cleaning-up situation and it would show students what gets me angry, and this could allow more mischievous students to provoke that. The tutors did sympathise with me, but I do understand their perspective on it and I am learning to control my emotions/anger.
Though ISCA has been a great experience, I am feeling a little lacking creatively in my field of practice and I do want to make things more for myself or in my style. As I find students forgetting parts of the process from time to time, I suggested with the head tutor about making an instructional poster that is more in my style. This is a good side project for me because it is both for the benefit of the staff and students as well as for me exercising m creative practice. Apart from that, I am eager to sign up for an upcoming open call for ELCAF and I am in the process of making work for the application. I want to do this as a way to get some printmaking work out for myself, and this would also help build my portfolio for future applications.
So far, my DPS has had its’ positives and its’ negatives, but I want to be able to give my fullest commitment to this course and there is still so much that I want out of this year, I have other ideas and I want to be able to get it all out before the academic year has passed. With all that I have learnt in these past months, I will be more driven and more determined to make as much work for myself as well as for ISCA and future clients. I want this to be a creatively successful year for me.
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