Ethos & How I Work

WORK HARD NAP OFTEN

The Army of Cats Mission Statement is easily summed up by the good old values of: work hard; treat people fairly; try to live and work sustainably.

I take pride in making the best work I can, for the best people I can. My ethos and approach adds value to what I do so here are a few things I’d like to share about how I work.

Where’s this army then?

For the most part Army of Cats is just me. I do all the fun stuff but also have to tidy up and make the coffee.

There are advantages to working as a sole independent, of course – there is only one point of communication; I am able to be flexible and make quicker decisions; and my overheads are low, so I can price myself competitively – but there are obviously some things which my lean manner of working doesn’t do quite as well.

 

Army of cats Creative Studio We Love Good ClientsWORKING HOURS – I’m just one guy and a healthy work/life balance is important in order for me to be able to produce my best work. I try to maintain loose office hours somewhere around 9:30 – 18:00 GMT, Monday to Friday.

I also tend to have more than one project on the go at any one time, so sometimes that ‘1 day of sketching time’ is actually stretched over a few days. I find real value in being able to switch gears or take breaks so I can work on things with fresh eyes.

Of course, there are times when a job takes priority or a deadline is tight. Believe me, I’m not adverse to putting in those overtime hours to get the work done – I just much prefer those times to be the exception not the norm. And hey that applies to you too! I like healthy clients. Stay hydrated and all that jazz.

 

COMMUNICATION & MEETINGS – Email is best for me. It keeps everything organised in one secure place. Some people like to send a Tweet, and follow it up with a Facebook message, and then text me to check I saw the Instagram comment they tagged me in… I’m really sorry, I just can’t keep up with all that. Email is just fine, cheers.

Sometimes an old fashioned telephone call is even better. Hearing another human’s voice! Great stuff. I am always happy to schedule a chat on the phone.

Meetings can be tricky. With most of my projects, even if I never have the pleasure of meeting the client face-to-face, the work has turned out just fine. Of course sometimes it’s nice to put a face to a name and shake a real hand – it can be great for in-depth discussion and smashing through a whole bunch of ideas.

If it’s a vital part of delivering the work, I’m okay with that. All I ask is some understanding is shown for the value of my time, and in some cases I may factor the cost of meetings into a project’s budget.

Calling for back-up

When a larger project requires more hands on deck I will sometimes partner with other, trusted freelance folk to deliver the work. For instance, I may sometimes outsource screenprinting jobs if it is more cost effective to do so. I’m hugely fortunate to have built up some solid working relationships with talented friends over the years.

And here’s a funny thing – if I’m offered work I don’t think I can deliver or which I’m not a good fit for then I like to be honest and let you know. Wherever possible I will always offer advice on the best way forward and even point you in the direction of other artists or designers.

Getting paid

QUOTES & RATES – The work involved in each project can vary wildly, so it can be tricky to provide a quote for a job without additional useful info: Exactly what needs creating, how it will be used, the timescales involved, and whether you have a rough budget in mind are all a great place to start.

People do like to have an idea of rough figures though, so, for the sake of openness: my day rate is £300 and my hourly rate is £40. These are pretty much bang on industry guidelines but these are still just ballpark figures. Only certain jobs are ‘by the hour’ and many projects are quoted ‘all in’.

It is usual for me to charge an initial fee up-front before I start work. I appreciate it can sometimes be daunting for folks who may not have worked with a designer before. Don’t worry! I’m friendly and experienced at walking people through the process, and I’m always on hand to answer any questions. Where appropriate, a project can also be broken up into smaller phases to make things easy to manage and provide opportunity for feedback.

LOW BUDGET & SPEC WORK –  I appreciate sometimes the idea is great but the budget is limited. Hey, I’ve been there too. I am always willing to try and come up with something cost-effective for you depending on the work involved and what it’s to be used for.

I also like to contribute towards not-for-profits and general good causes when I can, so if your project fits that sort of category, don’t be put off dropping me a line – it may well be something I can help you with.

I’m afraid I don’t participate in ‘spec work’, design competitions, or give away ideas and sketches for free. It’s pretty simple really – if you like my work, just hire me.

Due to my quirky love of being able to afford to pay my bills and eat food, I really love clients who just pay me on time without me having to chase. Clients who pay early accrue special, secret Favour Points. Late invoices get hit with fees.

Greenery

I try to run my day-to-day life and work as green and as sustainably as I can. My energy supplier uses renewable electricity and I reuse and recycle wherever possible. My screenprinted art is printed with water-based inks and wrapped in protective plastic bags that are 100% biodegradable.

Wherever possible, I also enjoy supporting fellow local and independent tradespeople. Sadly, big business is not always good business. I feel that supporting smaller businesses also helps support and sustain the local and wider economy.

THANKS FOR READING

If you’ve taken the time to read this page, then Thank You! It’s a lot of text but the thought and care I put into how I approach work is the same thought and care I put into the work itself. I pride myself on that.

Please feel free to take a quick nap now – you deserve it.