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All Good Things...End When i Want Them To

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            It’s a bittersweet end to the whole experience. I will miss the bizarre stories and interesting people I got to meet on a daily basis. Originally nervous, I wasn’t sure what to expect when coming in, but I think I ended up right where I was supposed to be. With a less than ideal social experience at Catlin, I loved being in an environment where I felt comfortable. I found people like me, not racially, but personality wise. I finally exhaled; Of all places, I didn’t expect to find peace in a tattoo shop, but being around creative, art-loving, unique people gave me a sense of home.
            My mentor traveled to San Francisco this week for work and family, but the other guys in the shop found plenty for me to do. We had a guest artist from San Francisco come in Monday. He was Black, so it was nice to be able to talk to someone of color in a racial (and gender) dominated profession. I think he specialized in neck tattoos because that is all he had booked for that day. He had worked with Dan in California and came to pay Portland a visit to temporarily escape the fast-paced California life. I heard some interesting stories from him as well. It was also fun to hear the differences between Portland and San Francisco through a tattoo artist lens. For example, many women in Portland have neck and face tattoos than he expected. He also saw the word “VEGAN” tattooed a lot on people (face, head, arms, etc.). Having a fresh face in the tattoo shop is always entertaining.
            Hugging Dan Monday afternoon as our semi-final goodbye really hit both of us that the project was ending. Neither of us expected it to go as well as it had and I think we both liked having me in the shop, each for our different reasons of course. Not wanting the experience to end, I secured myself a part-time internship for the summer so that I can finish up Jerry’s box of designs. I’m excited to be able to continue working there and learning more about tattoos, hearing stories, and figuring out how I can wiggle my way into the business. Talking to Dan, who has many connections, there is a possibility of working in a tattoo shop in San Jose when I leave for college. I’ve got to somehow find a way to learn how to use a tattoo gun so I can put the smiley face on the back of that guy’s head!
            I answered the phone for the first time this week! Movin’ on up! It was nerve racking. I’ll just let Mali or Nick who work the front counter handle that. I am also working on a consultation design. Hopefully I’ll finish it before the presentation Thursday. Dan gave me a concept and references for a lady’s tattoo he will be inking this month. When I’m finished we’ll go over it together and see how well I did. It’s all good practice for me later. It will help me when designing some of my family/friends tattoos.
            Not looking forward to being back on campus, but I can proudly say I have completed senior year and successfully finished senior projects. Go me!
 

Comments

Peace in the Tattoo Shop

Hi Kassi -- Thank you for the wrap-up entry. You received glowing reviews from the guys at the shop, so I know they felt the same way you did about the "fit" of this project. It's wonderful that you have found a passion that you would like to continue to pursue in some form later on. I'm also glad to hear that you got a few different perspectives on the industry and got a lens on how the industry intersects with regional culture, with race, with gender, and with diet (!). I'll be interested to hear about your continued explorations of this art form. Thank you for making this such a successful project. Congratulations -- Brett

First Couple of Days at Alta

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I sigh every morning when I see these. I have to walk up three flights of stairs to get to my third floor office. It's hard I tell you, coming from a flat country; I'm locked in a costant battle with stairs.

Anyway, My first day at Alta began at 10:30 on Monday. When I arrived I met with Matt Berkow, my mentor, to talk a bit about what I would be doing during my stay at Alta. I will be conducting research for him about different types of bike share programs and compile information into a database to use to inform feasability studies in future. After our little talk he asked me what my schedual would look like. Feeling him hand me the reins, I was tempted to say 10:30 to 14:00 twice a week, but I saw the light and decided I would come in at 9:00 and leave at 15:00 everyday. With my routine decided upon, I dove into my work. I have a desk all to myself because there is someone who is "not coming back". Everybody says that when they see me sitting at his desk, but they never say why. It is a little disconcerting to tell you the truth.

After a couple of hours Matt invited me to a staff meeting where he introduced me to everyone. I felt privilaged to be at a meeting where the ongoings of a company were being discussed right in front of me, with no attempt to mask up any issues to save face. Later in my research I would find out that Alta is a leading Bike share consultancy, being involved in some of the largest bikeshare programes in America, and the rest of the world, as far away as Melbourne and London. All of this was being discussed right in front of me. It was not how I had invisioned a staff meeting of a company with such an influence either. They were deadly serious about their work when adressing issues raised by a lady who was clearly the boss, but this seriousness was often disrupted by jokes and the meeting was not all business. My favorite moment during the meeting was when one guy announced that this would be his last staff meeting (fon't get me wrong, O am not malevolent or anything, it is what happened afterwards that I found amusing). Matt then also announced that he would be leaving. You should have seen their faces! The boss lady was livid. I could se why, Matt Is the head planner and Alta was really buisy that week. Of course he meant that he would only be leaving for a couple of days to attend workshops. After the meeting it was back to humdrum of daily work.

After a while, Matt came back to relieve me and we went for a walk. We went down to a shop where he usually buys lunch. It was great, they sell five dollar burgers! After marvelling at the cheap food we walked back and got back to work. I finnished my assignment and went to bid him farewell. In a way, with all this research, I feel like the girl with the dragon tattoo, although I imagine she was probably slightly more tech savy than I am.

The next day was, well, how can I put it? Uneventful, mundane, monotonous? It was very long and repetitive. It was back to the world of reason. I felt like Bartleby the Scrivener. I did research the whole day and the one time that I got a different task it was to take photos of pieces of paper from a comment box for The Boss Lady. The questionnaires never ended! There was a silver lining though. Before i went home I went to check in with my boss's number two. He took a look at what I had done and said that I had done a great job. With my future in mind, I asked him for a raise, because, well, you know, you need to take advantage of the few moments when your boss is in a good mood.Of course he just laughed but I know he was contemplating it.

Armed with the knowledge that I was on the verge of a raise, I came in on Wednesday with a different mindset. I started my spreadsheet, and despite the lack of information online, I got pretty far. I was constantly on guard though. When I had come in that morning I would feel the glares that people were giving me. Both my bosses were not in and I was at the mercy of the rest of them. They were going to swamp me with petty photocopy errands. I didn't want to be the coffee boy. Actually I'm sure after one cup they would know to stay clear. I am not much of a coffee drinker and wouldn't know the first thing about making a good cup. Surprisingly though, I reached the end of the day with not a singe disturbance, other than an introduction from a guy who had been on holiday for a few weeks. It had been a productive  day and I was beginning to settle in.

I think that my first half a week at Alta has planned out pretty well. Get it? Because Alta does Planning and Desing? Anyway, on a more serious note, I have used skills I learnt in English and History to do research, and have learnt more about bikesharing here than I have ever before. It is actually quite a big deal, and is taking over American cities, for the better. Bike sharing has great benefits like reducing traffic, obesity and pollution. There have even been studies that have shown that bike sharing (or at least the excercise involved with it) improves peoples moods and makes them happier. About 50% of people in one study said that they have felt happier since they started using bike share programs. The great thing is that Portland will have its own bike share program soon thanks to Alta. Another important thing to note is that bike sharing is different from bike rental in that it is supposed to be another form of public transport, and not a personal means of getting around. People pay money through a machine at any bike rack, hop on a bike and, when they are done, drop it off at any other rack for others to use. I am lust about ready to start my own bike share consultancy...  

Comments

Dumela, Rra!

Great to read your first post, Mpho. I appreciate the your sense of humor! I know it can be hard to keep a sense of humor after hours of data entry. It sounds like you are learning some stuff too, which is good to hear. Anything new planned for this week? Keep it rolling!