There’s friends you have that you have no idea how you became friends. It’s the proverbial “accidental pregnancy”. You don’t remember how you started talking but you also don’t remember a time when you were never talking. It’s just one of those things that happen, two souls that gravitate towards each other and collide. It’s like the big bang, a theory best explained to a creationist by not explaining.
We’re having beers, me and my big bang, and the conversation oscillates between music, musicians, the music industry and careers. The guy is a self taught graphics designer. Everything about his demeanor is laid back. There’s something about these artsy fellas from the hairstyle to the dress code. He has a way he sips on his beer; like he is trying to savor the different stalks of golden barley that went in to the beer. Beer itself is an art, or the process of brewing beer is an art, so it needs appreciation and the artist or brewer recognition. There’s some beers you drink and your whole life becomes an epiphany. Beers that invoke emotions deeper than Adele’s someone like you or hello. So I understand when he savors each sip and lets it settle on his tongue for a while before letting out a long sigh of satisfaction.
We’re talking about careers or the lack thereof.
“You write right?” He asks totally unaware of his question. He knows I write, I send him links once in a while.
I give him a look. It’s not mean, it’s not condescending. It’s just a look, my expression is asking saying “yes you know I write what do you want?” But I just smile and take a sip of my beer
“Yes I do.”
“You’re good. You should work in an agency.” He says
Working in an agency isn’t my end game I must admit. There’s something about working under someone that makes the whole thing un-fulfilling. In the beginning it’s fun and a great way to set your foundation but after a while you want to spread your wings and fly. You want to be your own brand and build on that. But working in an agency is part of the game and so I nod my head.
There’s something enticing about the way those guys walk around with work sheets and cigarettes in their shirt pockets. How every ten minutes they have a smoke break. I hear the ladies there are smoking – both literally and figuratively. The kind to wear short skirts and fleeced blouses. The ones that prepare for a meeting by taking taking a shot of whiskey, dabbing cologne and hopping into the drivers seat to battle the Nairobi traffic. They choose popular bars as the rendezvous and water up a client while getting down to business. The kind with well manicured nails, smooth complexions and expensive Brazilian hair. The kind to call your bull shit. The kind who call the likes of Caramel, Mercury and Dusit locals. Who wouldn’t want to work around that? Spend half a months salo on a night out and get sent packing into the workmate zone until you decide to hit on her friends that work in law firms and insurance companies.
“Yeah man. I should.”
“You writer guys have interesting concepts”
I liked how he bunched us writers as writer guys. It felt like some sort of secret society where we have a special handshake and swear an oath of secrecy when we join. The writers guild if you may. Like we meet in some secret location outside of town at a lonely building with only one light bulb in the middle of a huge hall. We come here to offer condolences to all the surviving grammar after uncouth teenagers and unsavory characters murdered some of it on social media, text messages and spoken word in the name of fitting in. We have a strategy to implement a NWO (new word order) and we’ll take out anyone in our way. On the Internet we have our secret agents known as Grammar Nazi’s who are brutal and execute their missions discretely despite public outcry.
“Us writer guys?” I ask
My eyes implore for an explanation.
“Yeah, si you know what I mean.”
“Let’s say I don’t…”
“But you do.”
“Okay, so what’s the point here with us writer guys?” I say pointing at me and my imaginary writer friends backing me up in the background.
“I told you concepts. We should work on one.”
My interest was piqued. I’ve never really worked with anyone when it came to writing. I’ve worked for people just never with them. So of course I was interested.
“How exactly? I’ve neve worked with you graphics guys” I retort
“We’re all artists right? You use words I use graphics. Why not use both?”
“You mean build a story around a graphic?”
“Yes or vice versa. I can build a graphic around a story.”
“Yeah and exposure for both of us.”
Then there was that word that any creative will tell you they hate, ‘exposure’. It’s a valueless currency. It doesn’t pay bills or buy beer. But ever so often it is thrown around. Cheap companies or companies with cheap marketing heads with a limited marketing budget promise you the world with this ‘exposure’. You bust your ass off pushing a brand or an event and all you get is an exposure that even on a CV is as worthless as your marital status. You can’t use it as a point of reference for future employment. The guys probably won’t even remember your name. Basically what they are saying is you’re talented, you should get paid but we just can’t. Sometimes I want to flip them off, give them a piece of my mind and make them eat my words for a week.
But this was different. I’d rather he used the word ‘build a portfolio’ but it still worked. So check him out, goes by the pseudonym Discava another beer and art lover.