Sunday, May 23, 2010

Being Inspired + Getting Paid For It

As far as part-time jobs go, especially for designer-types, one couldn't do much better than to work for Target. Armed with a Dave Ramsey game plan, I've taken on a few extra hours a week in part-time work at Target in an effort to unearth myself from a small mound of debt. Once I began a little over a month ago, I was delighted to discover a few extra benefits to my professional career and personal life that I could never have anticipated:

1) Reconnecting with society: for me, the only undesirable part of being a designer is being chained to a chair with a face in a computer screen for hours on end daily. A nice benefit of working retail is to be interacting with people on a large scale and working along side/getting to know new co-workers. Compared to headache clients as a designer, customers (guests, in Target speak) are a walk-in-the-park to deal with, even when you get the occasional crabby/cranky one. It's helped me to get back into the art of communicating with people. As much as we don't want to hear it, design is a service-industry (though a little more specialized; and hopefully one in which we are seen as experts) and knowing how to interact with the customer is a necessary ability.

2) Exercise: instead of throwing money at a gym membership, I'm just working 2-3 days a week for a few hours being up and about walking around the store. I should get a pedometer to see how many steps I take in a shift. Plus, I'm getting paid for it:)

3) Mind-numbingly easy work w/instant gratification: sometimes, it's tough to work on projects that are critical thinking intensive for long periods of time -- 3-6 months (or up to 3 years, if you're unlucky). It's nice to know what you're doing and to have time to think on random things while doing a mundane task. Additionally, I'm a list-maker, task-oriented person and I worked in retail before (Walmart) for 6 years through high school and college. When I got into the design field, I often missed the satisfaction of looking back across activities of a workday and seeing progress. Many design projects do not provide that daily feedback (the result of a day's work is not in direct portion to the amount of time/effort put into it) that you get from seeing a department go from total chaos when you arrive to clean, neat and orderly by the end of a shift.

4) Design inspiration: lastly, the reason to work for Target as opposed to any number of other retail outlets/positions, is being surrounded by good design and constantly inspired by new patterns or color combos. Liberty is a new edition to the Target line and their prints are always fascinating. I've been taking pics of great colors and pattern with my phone during my shift and have even been able to discover a few new visual solutions to the design problems that roll around in my head on any given day. I also helped a guest :) yesterday to color coordinate a skimpy tank-top with a short-sleeve shirt of complimentary color and level of famine detail. Who would have thought that I'd be applying what I do professionally to this type of work?

Below is a sampling of mobile pics from my Target inspiration file... expect to see some paisley swirls, intricate Indian graphics and organic flourishes making their way into On The Vine's identity work:) 

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