Terri Appreciation Week: Hufflepuffs, They Get The Job Done

by Ariela

Happy Passover to all of you celebrating out there!

The last full week of April, that would be this week, is Administrative Professionals Week in the United States of America. ‘Round hereabouts, that means it’s Terri Appreciation Week.

It’s very easy to see what I do—I put pen to paper and make pretty art—but it’s much harder to see what Terri does.

Hufflepuffs, they get the job done. Chibi Terri smirks with her arms crossed, wearing a Hufflepuff House scarf and says “Darn right we do.”

Hufflepuffs, they get the job done.
Chibi Terri smirks with her arms crossed, wearing a Hufflepuff House scarf and says “Darn right we do.”

Terri is a Hufflepuff. She is hardworking and extremely loyal. (She is also an American badger, so don’t effing mess with her or her loved ones. She will defend her own with sharp teeth and claws. Seriously, why do Brits think of badgers as cute and bucolic? They’re scary.)

A short, non-comprehensive list of things that Terri does around here:

  • Looks for art shows for us to send our art to

  • Investigates other venues for selling our art (mostly our Judaica)

  • Fills out paperwork (So. Much. Paperwork.)

  • Itemizes every single, solitary expense the business had

  • Writes most of our product release blog posts

  • Handles most of our product release social media

  • Comes up with ideas for art

  • Blogs

  • Manages the business schedule

  • Monitors my workload and keeps me from overcommitting and burning myself out

  • Deals with customer inquiries

  • Deals with wholesale inquiries

Terri is more than just a “manager.” She’s an agent, an editor, a manager, and an assistant all rolled into one. Geek Calligraphy is not my business, it’s ours. We founded it together. She’s my business partner. And before she was any of that, she was—and continues to be—my best friend.

There are very few awards for administrative professionals, in part because what they do is very rarely visible to anyone outside their respective businesses. (Also in part because we live in a society that devalues support work, whether administrative or emotional, but we’re here to celebrate Terri, not protest the sexism and Capitalist values in our social order.) Part of the way that we change that is by publicly talking about what they do.

Terri is awesome, her work is valuable, and she deserves to have more than a week celebrating her accomplishments.

Chibi Terri holds out her Hufflepuff scarf and muses, “*sigh* These are really not my colors.”

Chibi Terri holds out her Hufflepuff scarf and muses, “*sigh* These are really not my colors.”

Chibi Terri holds a sign saying “Will Wrangle on a Contract Basis.”

Chibi Terri holds a sign saying “Will Wrangle on a Contract Basis.”

Does what Terri does for Geek Calligraphy sound helpful? Do you wish you had someone to do some of that for you? You can!

Terri also takes clients on a freelance basis.

Some things Terri can do for you:

  • Invoicing

  • Yelling at People Who Need Yelling At

  • General Unsticking

  • Social Media Plan

Visit her website: ArtistWrangling.com

Get Your Own Terri

by Ariela

Basically since day one of Geek Calligraphy, I have been telling friends how grateful I am to have Terri as my partner, because without the things she does, this would be a much more difficult undertaking. I have also been telling my professional creative friends forever that they should get a Terri of their own. Well, now you can!

Chibi Terri holds a sign saying "Will Wrangle on a Contract Basis."

Chibi Terri holds a sign saying "Will Wrangle on a Contract Basis."

Terri is now taking on wranglees on a contract basis.

What can Terri do for you?

  • Invoicing – Do you forget to invoice your clients on a timely basis because you are so caught up in the creative work of your project? Terri can send your invoices to your clients, or remind you to do it.
  • Yelling at people – Are your clients late in paying their invoices? Did someone use your art without permission but the prospect of sending a DMCA takedown notice makes you want to hide under a blanket? Has your confidence in your prices deserted you, leading you to work below market price? Terri can speak sternly to people on your behalf and enforce your professional boundaries.
  • Unsticking – Do you have a magnificent new project that you cannot wait to start but you are unsure where to begin? Does the magnitude of stuff that you need to get done paralyze you to the point you cannot do any of it? Terri can be a source of outside accountability to keep you on track. She can also help you break things into manageable bites and figure out which ones to start with.
  • Social Media - If you need social media for Professional Business-y Reasons but it is overwhelming and stealing brain from your creative work, Terri can help.
  • Work with you for short or long periods of time – If you need help with one specific thing, Terri can work with you for that long. If you need ongoing help, she can do that, too.
  • Other things - This is not an all-inclusive list. If you need help with something not on here, ask her!

What Terri will not do for you:

  • Be your business or creative partner – She’s mine, I found her first!
  • Work below market rate – Terri is providing an important service and will be compensated accordingly. It would be hypocritical for her to offer to help you get paid what you’re worth, then accept less for her.
  • Work without a contract – Contracts are there for the protection of both parties. Even a short engagement needs a contract.

While Terri's personal website is ArtistWrangling.com, and artists are her specialty, she does work with non-artist clients.

What are you waiting for? Get your own Terri!

Schedule Note

Image shows a grumpy chibi version of Terri tapping her foot, and staring at calendar largely blocked out by holidays. She is saying "Sensible design, my left foot."

Image shows a grumpy chibi version of Terri tapping her foot, and staring at calendar largely blocked out by holidays. She is saying "Sensible design, my left foot."

By Terri

Your friendly neighborhood artist/calligrapher and her wrangler will be taking the entire month of October off. That solar month is overly stuffed with the fall Jewish holidays. As both of us are observant of the restrictions that these holidays bring with them, that makes it difficult to keep to our usual blogging and product release schedule, let alone any commissions that might come in.

So while you may see Tweets and the occasional Facebook post when we feel something needs to be shared, this blog is going to be quiet. While we will be taking orders for prints and greeting cards, they may be slower to ship than usual. We probably* will not be taking ketubah orders for the entire month. There will be no new products released in October. We hope you find the month enjoyable.

See y'all in November!


*Obviously emergency ketubah situations do arise and we will make our best effort (with applicable rush charges) to meet your needs in that case.

What is it that I really do?

By Terri

My job title in this business is Manager, specifically Business Manager/Artist Wrangler. My personal business cards read "Knitting Instructor & Artist Wrangler*" But that's an incredibly vague term that conjures up images of Ariela in a Lasso of Truth and doesn't really describe what I do or how I learned how to do it.

I began working at The Judaica House in early 2006. Early on I was tasked with re-inventorying many of the special order items that they carry, such as personalized benchers** (yes, that's pronounced like the thing you sit on followed by the sound you use when you can't find a word), yarmulkes for imprinting and personalized ketubot from various artists (among them, Ariela's former employers). Over several years of employment, I developed relationships with some of the artists we carried and learned a whole lot about how the business works. The personalization form you fill out if you order a ketubah from us? It's a hybrid of the form I used to use at work and the one the Caspis use. My initial proofreading skills came from doing the final check on any ketubah before it went to the customer. And boy did I have to chase down a lot of rabbis. Why? Because before we would send the personalization information to any artist, that information needed to be verified by the wedding officiant.*** That led to me ranting to Ariela during May of 2009:

clearly, it must be wedding season

either that or Rabbi season, because all I seem to be doing is hunting them

Some time later, the following sketch arrived in the mail:

The giant kippah *really* makes this sketch. If you look carefully, you can see where Elmer used to be wearing a black hat.

The giant kippah *really* makes this sketch. If you look carefully, you can see where Elmer used to be wearing a black hat.

[Image shows a pencil sketch of Elmer Fudd on the phone, wearing a kippah, holding forms. Text declares "Be vewwy vewwy QUIET. We'we hunting WABBIS...."]

So I amassed a set of incredibly specialized skills over the course of my employment (proofreading, how to get what you want from an artist without making them cranky, dogged persistence in tracking down officiants). I learned what sorts of designs appeal to the standard Jewish consumer vs. the geeky ones. And most importantly, I developed a deep and close friendship with an artist who wanted to start a calligraphy business. 

I stopped working full time at The Judaica House in 2010. By then, Ariela was living in New York City and was steadily taking commissions for ketubot.**** I was her on-tap proofreader for these (I even did one over email), and we began to banter back and forth about Ariela quitting her day job. It was all pipe dreams, even in 2012 when we established that I would be the business manager. It wasn't until 2013 that I actually started doing Business Manager type things (mostly attempting to adjust unreasonable expectations from clients - something I still do). 

But, you insist, none of this answers the question in the blog post title! So what is it that I do?

I proofread texts when possible (not being local to Ariela makes it trickier), answer wholesale inquiries, rein in Ariela's runaway impulses, respond to certain types of client inquiries, come up with product lines, track down phone numbers for licensing departments,***** make sure Ariela meets her deadlines, write many of our product release blog posts, serve as a sounding board, and generally act as the first line of defense for anything that keeps Ariela from being able to Do Art. I smile and nod at calligraphy details, keep our products within scope (and just slightly subversive), act as a font of completely useless knowledge, track down frames at thrift stores, make sure Ariela doesn't take on too much, tweet and share things on Facebook that are relevant to the business, and write long rants on our blog when fandom needs a good swift kick in the pants. Since that doesn't fit on a business card, you get Artist Wrangler instead.





*Unfortunately they went to print before I could get "professional killjoy" added to them

**Small prayerbooks or laminated cards containing the Grace After Meals and other assorted pre and post meal prayers for the Sabbath and Holidays. 

***We ask for your officiant's contact information for this very reason (also, if we have any questions we can avoid asking you them during what is a busy and stressful time for you).

****Our friends did persist in getting married.

*****It's amazing how much easier it is to contact the people in charge of Star Wars licenses now that Disney owns Lucasfilm. 

We Interrupt This Broadcast

By Terri

To inform you that things are going to look a little different around here. When we launched, it was with a new product release every other week. Ariela had a bunch of greeting cards on deck, and the other products on our schedule didn't seem too much. 

Fast forward a few months. We've added 2 professional oaths, several greeting cards and a ketubah to our product line. Ariela has stopped talking to me about how magical and wonderful art is.* She went to WisCon, and ran up against a project she really wanted to have ready in time. So it was time to have a reality check. Slowing down was in order.

As friends who are business partners, sometimes there is a push-pull that you have to walk very carefully. When your best friend is creative and driven, sometimes you have to talk her down from the ledge. It's easier with me - when I get startitis, I end up with several more in-progress projects, but I'm not tearing my hair out, nor is knitting making me unhappy. When Ariela has an attack of "Be Productive," it can end up with too many things on her plate at one time. So we're clearing the plate some.

Starting this month, we'll be ratcheting down to one product release a month.** This should hopefully give Ariela room to do her scribal practice, the occasional commission, Geek Calligraphy products AND her day job. If that works successfully, we'll stick with it. If it doesn't, we'll revisit it in a few months. 



*That sounds fluffy and silly, but when Ariela is happy with her art, she is talkative about it.

**With the right to add a simple second product if I think Ariela can cope