Friday, December 12, 2008

From The Vault: Pepsi Dance - 2002

Six years ago this Saturday, I was laid off by my then-regular employer, for whom I was doing web design.

I had had a couple of freelance jobs going at the time, but I still needed (or felt I needed) a regular paycheck. It was relatively unexpected, so I drove him in a fog, wondering What The Hell I Was Going To Do.

So I came home, told some friends, and let myself think about it for a few hours. I called another friend, who was a very successful freelance artist, and told him I was thinking of just going freelance from then on. I didn't really want to try and find a new job, and knew I would zero to no enthusiasm for any job I could land. Not only did that seem like a nightmarish prospect, but it wasn't even very fair to any potential employer who I might be able to fool into hiring me.

"Go for it", he said.

So sitting in my chair that night, I had officially become a freelance artist. My life's dream had been achieved, albeit in a very weird, scary, and anti-climactic way.

That was six years ago--at the time, I told myself if I could do it for six months it'd be a "moral victory" and I'd be willing to try something else, knowing I'd done it. The fact that its been six years seems like a miracle to me.

To commemorate the anniversary, I went back through my records and tried to the first new piece I worked on after Going Freelance, but my memory is hazy and I don't exactly remember which piece it was.

But this one is from around that time, so it might be the first one. It was a job from an ad agency that had Pepsi as a client(!), and they were comping up some new can designs to show to them. One design they wanted was a "very hip" couple dancing, done in the Pepsi colors, to be potentially put on the can.

Of course I was very excited to get the job, because it was a huge client, and who knows? Maybe my work could end up on millions of cans of Pepsi, rotting kids' teeth from coast to coast.

But they needed it fast, something like overnight fast. So I stayed up reeeeeally late one night, trying to find the right two, "very hip" people that would look good dancing together. I finally found the two you see above, changed their clothes and hair a bit, and dressed them in Pepsi blue and red, ending up with what you see above.

I turned it in, and the ad agency really loved what I did--it was exactly what they were looking for. Huzzah!

Sadly, days then weeks passed, and I heard nothing back. From my experience, when someone needs something from you Right Now and then you hear nothing back for weeks, something bad has happened.

And I was right--the agency told me that at some point down the line, Pepsi canned (sorry) the whole idea of having illustrations on their cans, so there went the whole thing. I still got paid for the work I did, and I had a nice piece for my portfolio, but obviously I was disappointed. Having my work on a Pepsi can as my first post-firing freelance job would've been a huge morale builder.

But it was not to be. And I've managed to do okay since, so I guess I made the right decision back on Dec. 13, 2002.


Craig Zablo said...

That would have made a cool can design. On another note, I have to tell you I have respect for all freelancers. I couldn't do it -- even if I had the skills needed. I need a steady gig for sanity's sake. ; )

rob! said...


thanks for the compliments, and your repeated comments.

in terms of sanity's sake, yeah, there have been times when i thought i was going to lose my mind when freelancing :), but things seems to fall together just at the right time to keep me from being sent off to the rubber room.

before i went freelance, i knew that my penchant to worry about everything all the time was going to have to change when i went freelance, otherwise the worrying was going to kill me, either in the heart or the head.

luckily, i seemed to be able tamp all that down, and now here we are 6 years later!