Freelance Designer: Artist or Businessman?

Sometimes walking the line between business-man-capitalist and artist gets tough.

This morning I was awoken by bad news. It seems that a logo I created (but not invoiced yet) had been ‘tweaked’ by another designer at the request of the CEO for whom it was created. My mind immediately went into crisis mode as I felt I’d suffered a great injustice.

A little background: The logo was designed to be part of the same corporate entity as another business, but also to stand alone. It was referential without being confused for the same company; even included a subliminal element as allusion to the company’s process. All-in-all I was actually proud of this design.


As a creative, I don’t like for my work to be messed with by anyone else. I don’t always create ‘babies’ but when I do I want to raise them and bringing in another designer robs me of that. I often feel as though these projects are a collaboration and changes can be talked through to make sure they’re for the best. If this had been the case I’d have strongly advised against the change as it negated the subliminal element and made the design completely horizontal in nature (and therefore difficult in most situations).

Thinking Rationally

Maybe I’ve taken a bit too much ownership of this piece. It’s entirely possible that I reacted from pride in my initial response. That’s not a good reaction from either the artist or the businessman.

When I presented this scenario to the twitterverse, I got a couple of responses. This one appealed to the capitalist in me:

It seems that, as a business professional, the trend is to deliver the work that makes the client happy. I don’t normally have any problem with this. Some clients simply won’t be persuaded from their original vision no matter how amazing I think the concept is.

That’s an extremely valid point. I’m not the one starting a new company, building from the ground up… not this time, anyway. Maybe what I like doesn’t matter. I’m not even a consumer for this product, so the rational, business-oriented side of me screams “GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT AND GET PAID!

The artist in me retorts, in a seemingly more logical tone, “This is great work. It accomplishes everything that a brand identity should and was approved last week. If they want to mess it up, we’ll just take it away from them and keep it safe.

Keep Questioning

If no one ever uses the design, though, what’s the point? It will have been creation for creation’s sake. Both the artist and the capitalist can agree that this is not a solution. Art is made to be experienced and no business lasts long that doesn’t sell its wares.

Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive. Perhaps I should simply move the mouse and click however I’m instructed. There has to be a comfortable place between capitalist and artist. If I don’t protect the integrity of my designs as an artist, then what kind of business could I possibly run?

I’m certainly not the first to raise the question and I doubt I’ll be the last. One of my followers was helpful enough to point that out:

For now, I suppose I should chill. Perhaps with a nice bowl of soup…

Afterthought: This post is in no way intended to speak ill of anyone. The situation (as frustrating as it was) merely made me step back an look at where the line is between artist & businessman.


Memories in Lieu of Media Credentials

I was just sharing this experience with a friend who’s attending the launch of STS-135 because he was unable to return for 134. It might be helpful for anyone attending this launch to have an idea of what’s going to happen. Of course, no two launches are exactly alike.

I remember launch day…

Sunrise at Kennedy Space Center with Launch 39A.

There was a low ceiling that day and we were all pretty nervous.

I arrived on site about 3:30a and set up my tripods and chair along the rope to the far right of the clock. I was early enough to have my pick and I found a spot with a great, clear view between some trees down range.

Shuttle Endeavour in the predawn darkness.

Endeavour was beautiful in the pre-dawn hours. Illuminated by those amazing lights that seemed to shine into the heavens. We all just kind of wandered around the site until the astrovan started rolling.

We ran out to the street and waved. The van stopped (instead of pulling into the VAB lot) and the flight director and others got out. When the door opened the light inside was on and we could see astronauts in the windows waving back at us. Just then one of them leaned over and we could see him waving through the open door. That was truly amazing.

Shuttle Endeavour at sunrise.

The next couple of hours were spent in a briefing about STORRM and nervous anticipation. The last few minutes dragged on forever as I was behind the clock and had no idea if we were on schedule until everyone started counting back from 10.


Smoke started rising from launch pad 39A and people started cheering. Then a glow lit up the smoke and Endeavour began to rise. It seemed to take forever for her to clear the tower, but then she really took off and hit the clouds just seconds later. The cloud ceiling glowed eerily with the reflection of the rockets and then just enveloped the shuttle and went dark.

Photo by Trey Ratcliff -

That’s when the sound hit. It’s assaulting and not at all what I expected. It crackled and rumbled not like an explosion, but like a campfire. The ground shook and I cried while people all around me cheered. It was truly an amazing experience. Afterward we listened to the ascent over the speakers and a guy next to me had an iPad with NASATV going. They made it to orbit and someone tweeted that a man who had waved to us earlier in the morning was now in space. I was awed once again.

I saw a local Jax news team doing a standup in front of the clock so I walked over to thank them for being the only station to come cover it in person. They threw a mic on me and interviewed me briefly and I was on the news thrice that day. Then we sat just tweeting, blogging, processing pictures and listening to the talking heads do their live shots.

I knew it was time to go, but no one wanted to leave. We all knew that it would really be over once we drove out of the gate.

I snapped a picture of the VAB in my rearview as I drove away and wondered if I’d ever have another opportunity to be on property. I stopped and used day 2 of my visitor’s center pass to pick up some souvenirs for myself and my godson (who is 5) and then began the long drive back to Jax.

I still haven’t started editing the video that I shot that day, but I certainly have watched it a couple of times. I show everyone I meet the video that I took with my phone strapped to the camera tripod.

I wish I was going back to the press area for the final launch, but I’m happy that a whole new set of enthusiasts are getting an opportunity to witness what I did… a true marvel of human ingenuity and drive. Discovery and exploration in their truest forms.

NASATweetup STS-135

In a stunning move that goes against the very fiber of my being I’m going to resist the urge to register for the final shuttle launch tweetup.

That’s right, I’m stepping aside to give some other lucky space enthusiast a chance.  I had my turn, went back to witness the early morning launch, and haven’t shut up about it since.  It’s the right thing to do.

I sincerely urge you all to register for the final shuttle launch tweetup.  It truly was a life-altering experience for me.  The NASA Tweetup experience awakened in me a passion I had long since forgotten.  It was like being a kid again.

The excitement of space exploration and science came pouring back into my brain as if a dam had burst!  Over the course of the 3 days I spent at Kennedy Space Center I remembered the thrill of discovery.  I have a hard time expressing just how grateful I am, but a friend said it very well:

This is true for all of us, I think.  It’s hard to not be inspired when face to face with greatness.  To me, NASA has always embodied the American spirit of adventure.  These are some of the smartest men and women on the planet, coming together for the common goal of discovery.  It’s what we’ve been about since first setting foot on this soil!

In short, register now!  If you’re chosen, find a way to be there!

L+1: Adjusting to Gravity

Just one day past the launch of STS-134 and I’m back at work.

Settling back into the old routine.

Dealing with the same frustrations and joys of my former life.

Learning how to be a civilian once again…

This was my view yesterday morning:

Now I sit at my desk with eyes fixed on the computer screen.  I’ve watched this video a dozen times on my phone today.  It never gets old.

Dreaming of glory…

I began following Bob Jacobs on twitter this past Sunday.  He is the Deputy Associate Administrator for Communication at NASA.  He’s won an Emmy for crying out loud, but oddly enough he didn’t say a word during our encounter.

He and his boss climbed aboard our bus before we left for Pad 39A to greet us and thank us for returning to Kennedy Space Center.  Like any good employee, he deferred to his boss (who happens to be the Associate Administrator for the Office of Communications, so he knows a thing or 2 about speaking as well) and we only learned he was a tweep as an aside.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to add him to the ‘Following’ list right there on that bus, but I didn’t look at his profile until later.

A sense of Serenity

As I sat in the car last night accompanying my wife to dinner I was strolling through my new tweeps.  I came across Mr. Jacobs in the list and wondered how I might present myself online were I in his position with one of the coolest agencies on the planet.

I swiped through to his twitter bio and read the most amazingly appropriate Firefly quote I’ve ever seen used: “Got me a boat load of terribly strange folk making my life a little more interesting than I generally like.

I was absolutely struck at the lighthearted (and yet absolutely on target) nature of it.  This sentence revealed a corporate mentality that I wanted to be a part of.  When he was mentioned on twitter earlier today I shared that sentiment:

and was met with a hopeful reply:

The launch is over and the tweetup is done, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less passionate about space exploration.  It’s a normal reaction to become uneasy when becoming reacquainted with atmosphere and gravity…!/mikeyarbrough/status/70490532371107840

RSS: Not just for subscribing anymore

The Rotating Service Structure (RSS) at Launch Pad 39A was retracted at midday today.

I was there. 600 yards away from Shuttle Endeavour. Furiously snapping photos and letting the HD video roll.

I started with a stop motion experiment, but quickly changed my mind and went to a standard shot. I’ll work on creating a sped up version in the near future, but for now you’ll have to settle for stills.

Upon arrival the RSS was still in the closed and locked position.

It wasn’t too long before things started happening and before you knew it, I was taking another self-portrait with arms raised!

All said It was an amazing experience even though there wasn’t much action. When all goes well there isn’t much to notice aside from the giant wall spinning off the shuttle.

Off for now, but there will be much more amazing-ness tomorrow! Hoping for an uneventful night and an extremely early morning.

168 Hours

One week.

One week ago I drove up to the Tweetup parking lot across the street from the Vehicle Assmebly Building at NASA and it officially began.  The excitement… the passion… the people.

Seven days.

They weren’t kidding when they said that attending a NASATweetup would change your life.  I feel a bit like the narrator from Fight Club.  “After a night in fight club, everything in the real world gets the volume turned down.”  Nothing back in the real world seems to be as interesting as what we saw at Kennedy Space Center.  I, personally, am hoping that this sensation doesn’t last because I’m having a difficule time adjusting.

So many incredible experiences and amazing information were crammed into just a couple of days that it seems I may have been overwhelmed.  A tweep said it best:

Since then I’ve had some difficulty carrying on a normal conversation.  ‘Civilian’ life seems hard to adjust back into.  Perhaps in part because my journey isn’t over yet.

I’ll be back when Endeavour lifts off, but until then I’ll continue to struggle through everyday matters.  Sorting back through photos and videos a little at a time as I try to make the memories last until my return.

On a side note: I promise to continue the blogging of my experience as a whole.  Editing video seems to be taking longer than expected now that I’m working again.

L-1 #NASATweetup, pt 1

Where do I even begin?

Day one of the actual Tweetup started early with breakfast at Grills, a local establishment on the waterfront.  Invited to share a meal with fellow Space Camp alumni and newly appointed Space Camp CEO, Dr. Barnhart.  It was a great informational time with the conversation centering around the issue of regaining the public’s interest.  It was interesting to hear the opinions of such a cross-section of space enthusiasts, including @AstronautAbby.

Dr. Barnhart discusses Space Camp & space exploration with alumni.

Abbigail Harrison and I.

From there it was off to Kennedy Space Center for the official start of the #NASATweetup!  Driving through Gate 2 was like a dream.  There were 4 of us in the truck and as I drove past the guard I couldn’t help but have goosebumps.  We drove right up to the VAB and parked across the street.  It was surreal.  I used to think that working for the Jacksonville Jaguars had given me an interesting office, but this was something altogether new!  Of course we started snapping our shutters before we even got out of the parking lot!

The VAB looms larger than life.

Walking up to the Tweetup Tent it seemed like the first day of school.  We were all excited and full of anticipation!

Snapping a few more photos before making it inside, we all wanted the legendary shot in front of the Countdown Clock.  I discovered that it’s also a foursquare location, so I checked in there just to show off!

Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking...

I’d like to say that I’m planning to upload the video of each talk that we got, but I can’t promise that’s going to happen anytime soon.  I’ll simply say that we were greeted by Stephanie Schierholz (@NASATweeteup) and John Yembrick (@NASA) before being treated to some of the most amazing speakers I’ve ever heard.

We first had a demonstration of the Extravehicular Mobility Unit and Mark III spacesuits.  These are  the most technologically advanced pieces of clothing that I’ve ever seen!  Spacewalks for STS-134 will last 6.5-7 hours each, so these suits have to be made to go the distance.  Even the gloves consist of 3 layers!

The suit that would leave Barney Stinson speachless.

After the demo, it was a short break for lunch as we were running a little behind.  Most of us took the opportunity to be escorted to the NASA Cafeteria.  That’s right, it’s a Foursquare location, too!

The second half of Day 1 is to come! Stay tuned…