Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Art Biz & Hiring

When first started AvantGarb (we're a custom, mascot making company),  I was the only employee. I did everything, designed, made the mascots, shipped them, did the marketing ---everything.

Quickly, I realized I was going to have to hire people. Just as employees have a learning curve at a new job, I had a learning curve as a boss. I'm still learning.

Hiring people is a puzzle. In a an arty biz like mine, creative decisions and problem solving are constant. Intuitive, improvisational communication is the lifeblood of the business.

We make mascots, which are like costumes and also like really, really big props. There is a huge amount of something I call, "non-specific engineering" that goes into them. We're engineering with foam, zippers and quick release buckles. It's a type of construction that requires whims of imagination and flights of fancy. 

Those with the most experience may not be the best ones for the job. 

Yup, it's true. We can teach someone to sew ---after all, sewing machines are really just power tools, and power tools are fun! It's hard to teach someone to take courageous, creative leaps
 - creative leaps and courage are so much harder than learning to sew.

When I started hiring people, I was interested in experience in making costumes and education. My hiring requirements have evolved over time. Education is nice, but I also want to know that there is something behind the education---like the habit of work. 
I hire from a wide range of sources. Currently we have some puppet/performance art people, theater prop people, a philosophy major who really understands interior, mascot structures, a cosplay person, a fashion person ---who always wears great clothes, a 2D artist who has a real knack for mascot shoes and accessories (in mascotdom, tails are accessories) and a former bartender who is totally charming on the phone and online, and understands quickbooks and social media.

It is a magical group. I look forward to working with them every day