Mission Street Grant

So Mission Street Grant asked me 5 questions and I thought I’d share my answers to them.
Tell us about your business and what makes it unique. Please provide a general description of your product, customers, competitive landscape, and overall performance.
I am an artist. I do graphic art (like logos and business cards), illustration, sculpture, clothing graphics, and scale model building. I have a lot of time-in-grade as a production artist, digital pre-press technician (critical color, layout, imposition), and professional scale model builder. Most, if not all, of my clients are creative people themselves: fine art photographers, jewelers, glass artists, and authors. I’m not the only person doing what I do, but my background in art (including photography) and critical color set me apart.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Describe both your greatest achievements and biggest challenges.
I started my own company for two reasons: I’m introverted, and the digital pre-press industry underwent massive reductions in the early part of the century, as basic image editing software got better and better and budgets got tighter. In the Denver Metro, we went from seven independent shops to one. For a while I was an employee of one of my former contract clients, but I discovered I was happier working on my own. Limited to what I can do by the cost of the vertical-market software I’d like to have, I’ve been doing 2-dimensional work for my gradually growing client base.

My largest challenge is my introversion. I need someone who actually enjoys marketing my product to others, so I can focus on the part I love – making the art.

My greatest achievement is seeing my work outside my studio, whether it be a bike jersey, a piece of art in someone’s home, or a logo I’ve designed.

How is your business involved with the community you serve? Examples include: giving back to the community, sourcing locally, and/or contributing to economic development via hiring.
As time permits, I volunteer both my time and my skills to specific non-profits or educational groups in the metro area. I’ve worked as a volunteer with Rebuilding Together and Project C.U.R.E. I’ve volunteered my skills to The International Plastic Modeling Society (IPMS), and one of its local chapters, the IPMS/CoMMiES (Colorado Modeling Militia Enjoying Sci-Fi).

I’d like to grow the business to the point that I can afford to rent work-space outside the home, and perhaps take on a part-time marketer and/or another artist.

What would a $150,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds? Please be as specific as possible.
This would mean a massive expansion in my businesses abilities and products. A more powerful computer would enable faster renderings and larger files; $$17k. Form•Z solids modeling software; $10k. A fine laser engraver/cutter would enable cutting services and enhance design abilities; $10k. A 3D printer for rapid prototyping and the generation of smaller final models; $30k. A large format printer like the Epson SureColor T7270D, would enable me to fill my own creative needs & the needs of others who need one-off large format prints; $7k. And then the time. Time to learn. Time to grok. Priceless.

What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term growth plans for the business? How will this grant contribute to your plan?
In the short term I’d just like to be able to continue doing what I’m doing. As I’m able to afford it I’ll expand in one direction or another. A bit here, a bit there. It’s slow and often times frustrating as bills seem to hit right when I’ve got the cash for expansion.

In the long term, I’d like to add to my skills by acquiring new tools and offering those services to clients, new & current. I’ve got people who’d like to get short run parts made, individual prints, modeling dies or vacuum forming bucks.

Belief

Everyone, even atheists, have a belief structure. I was taught to stretch my beliefs to check on how strong they are. This may be why I’m about as close to being an atheist as possible w/o actually being one. It also my explain my love of speculative fiction as it stretches the mind to wrap around new concepts.

Imagine, if you will, that Jesus as known in the Bible existed. That he really was a historical figure and that while some of his exploits may have been… embellished over the years he did exists as written in the Bible. How would that change your belief structure? Better? Worse? No impact what so ever?

Ok, now imagine that the while Jesus did exist, much of what happens in the New Testament was by multiple people whose acts ended up being attributed to Jesus. Again, how would this affect your belief structure.

And lastly, what if everything in the New Testament, and old for that matter, is fictional. Written to keep the populace in line and explain the unexplainable. That you had irreparable truth that the words contained with the Bible were, in fact, fiction. How would your believe structure stand up to such knowledge?

My belief structure is above all flexible. Some might say this means I never stand for anything. I prefer to think I stand for it all. I understand some peoples need for an exterior framework to help hang their beliefs and morals. I understand people who have no need and are highly moral in their own way.

This exercise is also about figuring out what your belief structure is. If you don’t know what it’s made of or rely too much on that external framework it’ll never survive a serious hit. It may not go down immediately but eventually it’ll crash and take you with it. Shoring it up with more external platitudes and support doesn’t help the underlying weak structure, it just keeps the bad design up longer.

R

 

An open letter to authors…

I’m a reader. I read a lot. I’m talking books per month not a book a year. The only 2 people I know that read more than me are a friend of ours and my wife. She reads like some people breathe.

But I don’t read just fiction. I have a diverse group of interests which brings me to this open letter to authors. It bugs the crap out of me when an authors wanders off and gets things wrong. Not plots bits, or character flaws but the little things like firearms that work wrong or that “blank” does or doesn’t exists when I know it does.

Unless of course you get it SO wrong that it become funny, like the work of Mack Malloney’s ‘Wingman’ series where everything wrong gets explained away because the lead character is an aeronautical genius.

Guns, cars, aircraft, tanks, architecture, vehicles of almost any sort, mechanical things of near any kind all interest me. So read about them, largely because on my budget driving a 2014 KTM X-Bow GT will just never happen. I’d be more than happy to answer questions, research requests, etc. Need a compact heavy hitting revolver? I’d suggest the Ruger SP-101 or Taurus 605B2 in .357 magnum. Or how about a truck that can do the quarter mile in under 10 seconds and is street legal and a diesel? Or how about a Panhard VBL? Great little scout car, perfect for the morning commutes.

Or, if worse comes to worse, I’ve got 20 years in the graphic design and pre-press world. I can toss about words like ‘ligatures’, ’em-dash’, ‘imposition’ with knowledge and aplomb.

Let me know what you need, I’ll see what I can do to help out.

NANOWRIMO

So this will track my word count for NANOWRIMO. That means I need to write some 1,667 words a day in the month of November.

Should be interesting.

Largely due to my dyslexia and difficulties writing/getting thoughts on paper. Or in this case on the puter.

It breaks down to about 208 words per hour if you’re wondering. So far I have 60 in this post.

208 is a looooong way off.

A little scared.

Not even really sure about what to write about. Thought about writing something about Tom Clancy’s death being connect to world events and the hunt to expose his killers but really not sure if I’m up for that. Then there is always the want to pad your word count by no longer using contractions and filling things with superfluous and extraneous adjectives and descriptors. @ 208 words an hour I’d need my typing speed to be 3.4 words a minute. I think that I can mange. The rest is just blathering on for 8 hours or more. Less if I can just fill things up writing a train of consciousness kind of thing. It would help if I could type & spell. @ least I’m not one-fingering the board. I can use more than a single digit, but my technique is far from what Mavis would have liked. Hey look I’m up past 210.

So I’ll quit now. I just wanted to see if I could even type to that volume.