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  1. #1
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    Need advice on a job situation (changed)

    Hello all,

    Please bear with me. Since last Fall of 2009, I had a job in social services and the case was resolved after a couple years for working with a client. At least, it allowed me to pay the bills and slowly turn my life around after going homeless three years ago. I'm now living in a small college town but want to move back up closer to the big city.

    However, I was'nt working for months between that Fall of 2009 until Summer of 2010 when I finally got lucky and got a part time job as an in house graphic designer. Long story short, the new owner bought out the business which is a print shop run by the previous guy. The previous owner was at the process of retiring and relocating to the southwest. The shop is about a few minutes away from my apartment and is in a busy location but not easily seen due to the way positioned facing away from the intersection.

    The new owner bought the business around March of 2009 and he's no true art director and had some experience in the print business in the past (or so he says). Basically, it was just him and the lady who does production/assembly work.

    The print shop does mostly what Kinkos usually offer but focused on local customers and businesses. Someone overheard him in a local radio interview that he was looking for an in-house graphic designer after being featured as a new owner. I was informed about it and decided to go for it because I needed to get my foot in the door doing some production and design work. And because I knew the new owner previously, he was familiar with me.

    EDIT: I knew the owner when he was working for the Chamber of Commerce throwing local gathering/parties to promote events and bring in entreprenuers and businesses. He no longer works for them and is now the owner of this print shop.

    He hired me in the summer of 2010 and I've been working for him since then as we mostly use InDesign CS2 to layout the templates for newsletters, brochures, business cards and what not. I work in mornings only til 12 or 1pm from Monday to Friday. The great thing about this job is that we are not open on weekends and holidays. So much better than working at Starbucks Coffee, I must say. It is the only print shop in the town and the nearest Kinkos is 35 miles up north along with Minuteman Press as well.

    Although, there's only three of us and his budget is somewhat limited. The system he inherited from the previous owner is a Dual PowerMac G4 (2002 model) with mirror drives running on OS X 10.3 using an old school 17 inch Apple LCD from 1999 (I believe). The Mac is hooked up with two Xerox press machines (or copiers if you will) which one does color and the other grayscale in mass volumes.

    It has Adobe CS2, Pagemaker and a few other applications. Pretty old school, if you ask me. Since that summer, he has been talking about upgrading to a new Mac, OS and Adobe CS5 because there were font incompatibility issues between the old Mac and Xerox press machines time to time. We output them mostly on PDF format.

    It's a nice little job that gets me out of the house and then back home to do my other work in my studio, or at the coffeeshop with my iPad via Sketchbook Pro, DropBox, etc. The job pays the bills and supports my fencing activities (weapons, uniform, and so on). It does'nt have any perks or benefits, unfortunately.

    I've been trying to gain some experience to do in-house design work and I appreciate him giving me the opportunity. He's a real nice boss. But I often question his wisdom in not having upgraded to a new Mac early in the game when he should have. It's been six months since I got hired and he's been talking about upgrading.

    Nothing happened so far. Maybe he will get the new system by Christmas or New Year's. Who knows? But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if he is being a cheapskate by not upgrading and sticking with it or using the upgrade story to keep me around like a 'carrot on a stick'. He was advised to get an iMac and Adobe CS5 as per the recommendation from a friend of his.

    Even though, I'm enjoying the other freelance gig from home, I'm getting a little bored with the print shop job because it does'nt offer any "excitement" and that I have nothing in common with the production lady (who's almost 60) and the owner who's an Elvis and Yankee fanatic. They're nice folks, though.

    And I'm wondering if having experience in the print shop is limited to just doing InDesign templating and doing paper collating by hand in huge stacks (he would sit at his laptop, eat lunch while I do that). Sometimes when the Xerox machine does'nt work, he hires a certified technician to repair or do a diagnostics check to get it back running in shape.

    Even more interesting is that he had old files from customer projects/accounts dating more than 5 to 10 years ago and I'm thinking "Destroy them. Keep those that are 5 years or more recent.".

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I know that there's an adage of "Don't quit your day job" to artists/illustrators, however, I'm growing a bit more tempted to walk out of that job if he does'nt grow a pair of balls to get the new Mac and get it updated soon.

    Have any of you worked in a small print shop that an owner would be so afraid to upgrade and be left out in the cold competition-wise? I've a feeling that he should have, upon buying out the print business from the previous guy, ditched the old computer, extract the files and transfer them to a new computer, and rebuild everything from scratch.

    Any thoughts?

    EDIT: I want to add in that he drives out to the local college's production/design department to print out plate separations because he uses an ABDICK scanner and DStat print machine to create plates to drop off at the college. He outsources those guys to do actual prints since they have the press machine and not us. Second, he does sometimes sub contracts the college department since they do specialized cutting/scoring that he can't even do.

    When he drives out to the college, I'm usually left alone in the shop for about an hour til he returns and he mostly deals with the customer service aspects of the business, I just focus on the work. After all, since I'm hard of hearing, I wonder if that is also a danger if someone discovers that a deaf person working alone in a print shop could be a security loophole.
    Last edited by Pilgrim1099; December 12th, 2010 at 09:35 PM. Reason: added information


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  3. #2
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    By the way, I'm not trying to sound selfish about wanting the print shop owner to upgrade to a new Mac but realistically, it is something I think he should have done.

    I know this topic may not relate to illustration or concept art, but I do some of it on the side at home, struggling still. Although, I'm just trying to understand if this is commonplace with people working in small print shops that use obsolete PCs or Macs to run the press and if it's a red flag that owners or management take forever to upgrade.

    I'm just contemplating resigning from the job if by Jan 2011, he does not upgrade to the new system like he's talked about for many months. It's a nice little job but does'nt offer much in creative freedom. And the production work is mostly done by the lady and the owner themselves. I don't see much professional growth there for me in terms of transferring that kind of experience to another design/production gig, say, in an apparel/merchandise design company, or another larger print shop.

    I just don't want to be stuck in this job when my goal is to move back up north closer to the big city. I have nothing against the new owner and think he's a real nice guy. I just happen to be marooned in this small town that is, for three years now, not the right fit for me :/. I never asked to move down to this town and was forced under circumstances to grab this available apartment out of necessity to get out of homelessness.

    It's as if I feel like Kevin Flynn living in a Safehouse, far away from TRON City like an exile :/.

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    ...are there features available in CS5/on an iMac that are essential to running the business? It sounds like you're doing fairly simple work, and while I'm not that familiar with InDesign, I know that while I have both Photoshop CS2 and CS4 on my computer, I will almost always use CS2, because I don't actually NEED most of the new features in CS4 and I don't like the newer layout.

    So, if you can do the work without a shiny new iMac, why does it matter? You mentioned font incompatibilities, but that doesn't sound like the sort of major crisis that would require upgrading to a $1200 computer and a few hundred dollars in software.

    I can't see him intentionally not upgrading just to keep you around. Maybe he just doesn't think it's that necessary to justify the expense? If you can do the work either way, I don't think it's terrible to keep the older computers.
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    I recently upgraded to CS5 from CS2, due to computer incompatibilities issues. Anything created in CS5 can pretty much be done in CS2, minus new 3D model features. I haven't installed CS5 Indesign yet. I kind wish I could go back to CS2 since CS5 crashes a lot.

    Your boss seems happy with the quality you produce and might feel there's no need for change or upgrade. He might be thinking if its not broke why fix it?. I don't think it's a good idea for the boss to egg on people or it will cause people to be resentful. I'm not sure if getting the upgrades would cure your job boredom other than a challenge or change of pace.

    Many companies can budget things funny...there's much worse.
    Last edited by Brian Luk; December 13th, 2010 at 04:01 AM.
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    i can not think of a single good reason why you would need CS 5 working in some small printshop.
    Some old computer, a monitor and Photoshop 8 or so would be more than sufficient for making fliers and business cards.
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    Yeah, if its not broke don't fix it is my adage for software. There's things you can do with later versions that might be cool, but unless its a drastic fundamental shift it might not be necessary.

    But if you're looking to grow out of this place.. I would suggest throwing together a portfolio of your print designs and shopping them around. Keep the job and be stable in the meantime until you find somewhere that you can be more creative. That sounds like what is really stifling you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim1099 View Post
    The great thing about this job is that we are not open on weekends and holidays.
    Maybe it's different over there but I've never heard of a shop that doesn't open at weekends. That's surely when the custom is. I suspect if the owner opened on weekends then he'd get far more trade and therefore more profit and upgrading the Mac would cease to be an issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pigeonkill View Post
    I recently upgraded to CS5 from CS2, due to computer incompatibilities issues. Anything created in CS5 can pretty much be done in CS2, minus new 3D model features. I haven't installed CS5 Indesign yet. I kind wish I could go back to CS2 since CS5 crashes a lot.

    Your boss seems happy with the quality you produce and might feel there's no need for change or upgrade. He might be thinking if its not broke why fix it?. I don't think it's a good idea for the boss to egg on people or it will cause people to be resentful. I'm not sure if getting the upgrades would cure your job boredom other than a challenge or change of pace.

    Many companies can budget things funny...there's much worse.
    pigeon kill,

    The reason he has the old computer is because he inherited it from the previous owner. It's a Power Mac Dual from 2002 running off on Mac OS 10.3 (not 10.4 or higher). The Xerox machine which is a 4290 model runs off on Adobe Postscript 3 (I think) and this machine has had font incompatiblity issues with the current computer. In the past, the old owner used Pagemaker and then switched to InDesign CS2.

    I know that small businesses budget things funny, but I get the feeling that if he held onto this old system too long, it could crash again more often. I did crash several times due to overload and running on multiple applications at once. He's using an old 17 inch LCD from Apple (1998 model I think) and I have had to squint or looking closely to see better. Realistically, in this kind of work, having a 20 inch or larger monitor makes things easier to move around elements and palettes, or to see larger page spreads.

    I'm just amazed he has'nt done that so far. He's a real nice guy but I often wonder about his logic.

    It was funny because he kept talking about getting an upgrade for months since I got hired and nothing's happened so far. I have an old PowerMac G4 (2002 model) at home but definitely plan to replace it with an Intel Mac Mini.

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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Frank View Post
    Yeah, if its not broke don't fix it is my adage for software. There's things you can do with later versions that might be cool, but unless its a drastic fundamental shift it might not be necessary.

    But if you're looking to grow out of this place.. I would suggest throwing together a portfolio of your print designs and shopping them around. Keep the job and be stable in the meantime until you find somewhere that you can be more creative. That sounds like what is really stifling you.
    Well, there's that other freelance gig I do at home for an old friend of mine writing a story and doing storyboards for a game project. It pays pretty good and far more than the print shop does. After all, I've known the guy for 25 plus years, despite the fact he lives in Canada.

    So, in a way, I do feel a bit stifled, but want to hold onto my position and wait until I have enough credentials and experience to move back up, and possibly grow out to other opportunities. I already know the CEO of a local design firm in VT (well, at least two of them and one of them has a daughter who fences in my local club).

    I'm just trying not to jump ship too soon because I want to wait and see what happens after New Year's. But to be honest, if I were the new owner of the print shop, getting a new computer would have been the first thing in my mind to update the files and drop the outdated customer accounts that are inactive. You'd be surprised how many floppy disks the previous owner has in one box and it's still sitting at the shop.

    I may have to teach my boss how to use DropBox instead of email to be more effective. I use it all the time with my iPad and retrieve it back on my other desktop.

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    I'd kill for a steady job like that that seems to trust me and isn't too taxing on me. You can work on your own stuff outside of work and not have to worry.

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    To be totally honest you don't need to upgrade for this kind of work. Frankly I doubt more than 10% of the people on this forum 'need' to upgrade-- professionals far more skilled than us are using Photoshop 8 on their CRT monitors without a problem. Besides CS2 to CS5 hasn't really been a total revolution or anything.
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    Offer to open up one day of the weekend and ask that a percentage of the additional profit be ploughed back into equipment and software, a percentage as a bonus for you. If you want it, make it happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sanya View Post
    To be totally honest you don't need to upgrade for this kind of work. Frankly I doubt more than 10% of the people on this forum 'need' to upgrade-- professionals far more skilled than us are using Photoshop 8 on their CRT monitors without a problem. Besides CS2 to CS5 hasn't really been a total revolution or anything.
    You're right. I don't need to. But that's all in the hands of the owner himself who bought this business from the previous person. He's been trying to upgrade for some time and I just talked to him earlier today and learned that he wanted to wait until he could get the space re-wired and then place the new system in a certain spot when re-arranging the workstations.

    However, I'm aware that anything CS3 or higher won't work on Mac OS 10.4 or older and I believe requires an Intel Mac. Especially CS5. The problem is that the owner's system is OS 10.3 running on CS2.

    Bear in mind, that this is the first time I've ever worked in-house at a print shop since I got hired six months ago. I'm just trying to get a better understanding if other people ever had experiences like this before.

    And also, I need to correct myself that he's using an Xerox 4590 press machine running on Adobe Postscript 3. He's had experiences where that machine crashed on him or that it would'nt communicate with the old system time to time.

    EDIT: Sanya, I see you're in Montreal. Not too far from my state. How's the creative scene up there? I have'nt a passport but was very curious about the city. But, of course, that's for another topic .
    Last edited by Pilgrim1099; December 13th, 2010 at 09:37 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Spot View Post
    Offer to open up one day of the weekend and ask that a percentage of the additional profit be ploughed back into equipment and software, a percentage as a bonus for you. If you want it, make it happen.
    lol. Actually he closes up the shop every weekend. I never answer the phones at the shop because I'm hard of hearing and leave the customer service to him since he deals with that aspect. After all, he's got the spotlight on him. Sometimes I would talk to customers if they walk in and need something.

    It's a nice thought to have something of that percentage of the profit to be focused on improving the infrastructure of the business.

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    He can just Upgrade to a better Pc if you feel the need. Cheaper In my opinion.

    The only reason You should upgrade to CS 5 is if you have tons of Ram a 64 bit OS and a decent Graphics card to take advantage of the new ant-aliasing features and what not.

    Tho CS5 speeds up the work flow quite a bit it doesn't seem to me that your in such a dire need for that.

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    Why so hell-bent on CS5? Get CS4, it's cheaper now that CS5 is out and it has most of the features in CS5, plus it's more stable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RyerOrdStar View Post
    Why so hell-bent on CS5? Get CS4, it's cheaper now that CS5 is out and it has most of the features in CS5, plus it's more stable.
    I don't own the print shop and am not buying the upgrades. Its the owner who's been thinking of upgrading. In a way, he would need to to keep up with the hardware changes. It's a problematic catch 22 because if he continues to keep the old Mac, he is stuck in a pre Intel Mac and cannot use CS4.

    To use CS4, you need an Intel Mac. Yes, we are a small print shop but some of the workload is huge sometimes, but not always. He's always looking for new efficient means to create faster productivity and stability. I'm also trying to figure out ways to improve on effectively layout multiple pages all at once by importing PDFs inti Indesign rather than clicking on each page template manually. I've dealt with client accounts that were a pain in the ass to do since they were books. Some were huge 300 page manuals from other companies or organizations.

    He doesn't know Photoshop as well as I do and is familiar with InDesign only crudely.

    I have the original CS on my PowerMac and it works fine. BUT, when the day comes I get a Mac Mini for my home studio, I will never be able to use CS on it since they are not compatible. I will rebuild my workstation from scratch once I upgrade for home office use.

    The local computer shop in Vermont only has CS5 and domt carry CS3 or CS4 anymore. He prefers to deal with them because they're cheaper to buy CS5 than directly from Adobe. ( shrugs shoulders)

    BUT, for the print shop, I feel getting a new hardware is important to improve on productivity and speed up the process. I dont see a Kinkos using an old Mac here and theyre using more recent systems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim1099 View Post
    I have the original CS on my PowerMac and it works fine. BUT, when the day comes I get a Mac Mini for my home studio, I will never be able to use CS on it since they are not compatible. I will rebuild my workstation from scratch once I upgrade for home office use.
    I don't know if this applies, but for what it's worth, I ran CS2 on my MacBook Pro for years, and it worked okay even though CS2 wasn't really supposed to be compatible with intel macs (it had some quirks, like sometimes having difficulty opening Photoshop, but worked well enough.) One of my designer friends runs CS3 on a brand new iMac, and that seems to work okay for him. So sometimes you can run this stuff on machines that are supposedly not 100% compatible.

    I don't know about the Mac Mini, though, so like I say this may not apply...

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    Well you can always run PS in Rosetta mode. But if he can't use CS4, how is he going to run CS5?

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    I don't know if this applies, but for what it's worth, I ran CS2 on my MacBook Pro for years, and it worked okay even though CS2 wasn't really supposed to be compatible with intel macs (it had some quirks, like sometimes having difficulty opening Photoshop, but worked well enough.) One of my designer friends runs CS3 on a brand new iMac, and that seems to work okay for him. So sometimes you can run this stuff on machines that are supposedly not 100% compatible.

    I don't know about the Mac Mini, though, so like I say this may not apply...
    Good points there. In my case, I think getting a Mac Mini is my best bet for home use since I need to be up to date with the latest OS. The print shop, however, will have to eventually get to that point. I can't find a copy of CS2, 3, or 4 since they are hard to find.

    I'm sure the Mac Mini might run CS1 but I doubt it will work because I've been told it's due to the Rosetta situation from Apple. I will probably buy one Adobe app at a time instead of the whole suite. But definitely Painter, Sketchbook Pro, Manga Studio and all that jazz isn't that difficult to acquire, though.

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    If it's just for printing and organizing what about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom? Take a look at it, if you haven't done that yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vari View Post
    If it's just for printing and organizing what about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom? Take a look at it, if you haven't done that yet.
    Vari,

    I've thought about Photoshop Express since it's cheaper to acquire for my future system. It may not do all that the full version does, but it's a fresh start before I move on to the bigger app. I may use that to complement my existing programs such as Sketchbook Pro, Painter, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim1099 View Post
    EDIT: Sanya, I see you're in Montreal. Not too far from my state. How's the creative scene up there? I have'nt a passport but was very curious about the city. But, of course, that's for another topic .
    Montreal is pretty awesome, not going to lie... and it's the best time and place to get a gig in gaming concept art.

    I assume "VT" stands for Vermont? I heard it's gorgeous out there-- if you're a camper, can you recommend any particularly awesome parks?
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    I think it's kind of insane to consider walking away from a steady art job because of computer upgrades. Of course you should be looking for your next opportunity as a designer, but wait until you find your next employer before you leave the place your at. It seems that your position is actually pretty good and convenient for you. There are tons of people (like me) that are working arduous non-art jobs and doing art on the side hoping to build a career. You're already in a decent spot, why would you walk away from it with nothing lined up because of such a mundane issue?

    Now if you're talking about searching for a new job, landing a new position, then leaving, yeah that makes a lot of sense and you might want to do that regardless if your boss upgrades his computers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickTrip View Post
    I think it's kind of insane to consider walking away from a steady art job because of computer upgrades. Of course you should be looking for your next opportunity as a designer, but wait until you find your next employer before you leave the place your at. It seems that your position is actually pretty good and convenient for you. There are tons of people (like me) that are working arduous non-art jobs and doing art on the side hoping to build a career. You're already in a decent spot, why would you walk away from it with nothing lined up because of such a mundane issue?

    Now if you're talking about searching for a new job, landing a new position, then leaving, yeah that makes a lot of sense and you might want to do that regardless if your boss upgrades his computers.
    Nick, it's a nice job and it's not something I'm going to jump ship immediately. The only time I would do that is if I find something else closer to the city I want to relocate to. But I can't rush this process until then. On the other hand, I'm doing some game writing for a friend of mine and this certainly helped pay the bills, although it's freelance and not full time .

    I'm kind of stuck in this small town, marooned like Khan in a way, and that's why I want to wait this out until the timing is right. Again, it's the first time I've had an in-house gig and there's only three of us. The lady does 98% of the production work, while me and the owner/boss deal with the design and customer service aspects. He does some production work as well.

    Just recently, the print shop's Mac froze twice yesterday because we were running at least three or four applications at once. It made no sense because he had about 1.5 GB of RAM installed (shrugs shoulders).

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    Quote Originally Posted by sanya View Post
    Montreal is pretty awesome, not going to lie... and it's the best time and place to get a gig in gaming concept art.

    I assume "VT" stands for Vermont? I heard it's gorgeous out there-- if you're a camper, can you recommend any particularly awesome parks?
    Sanya,

    I'm not surprised about Montreal because I know a few of them who lived in Burlington. Btw, yes, VT is Vermont. One guy from Montreal runs a gallery up there, although I don't think he's 'big time' yet but he might be. Someday, I would love to get a passport and check the place out.

    An old friend of mine, from way back in the 'hood from Cleveland we both grew up at, now lives in Toronto, working for a big name company (I prefer to keep it confidential but he knows some game and film designers) and we Skype almost daily over the gaming project instead of the phone, so that I can see what he's saying and while he projects a live shot of his working screen. He likes it in Canada, from what he says .

    So anyway, I'm not a camper myself but I know a lot of people who are in VT. There are some parks that you can chill out at such as Crown Point, Shelburne, some at Richmond, VT. There's a lot of parks here and there. I live in a pretty famous small college town which Robert Frost lived in and believe there are parks up in the mountains. Unless you're using an RV, then that's a different story and you would have to park it somewhere that is designated for camping RVs. So, if you want to be near the biggest city, Burlington is the place to be and I used to live there (and am trying to get back there) since there's a lot of creative energy compared to down here which is driving me up the wall daily.

    It's very beautiful here. Almost like being in Highlander or Lord of the Rings.

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