How I Ended Up Traveling The U.S. Getting Paid To Draw, Write & Teach: Part 7

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Part 7. So good I had to quit

After 15 times teaching the same class, I figured out how to make it interesting to me. I stopped just explaining layers, and instead would design a business card based off of student suggestions. Instead of randomly showing how to select, I gathered images that escalated the difficulty in a fun way. A rubber ducky. A water tower. A statue. Hair blowing in the wind. Etc.

I spent two hours each night tweaking it.

On Monday, for instance, a student asked about file sizes so on Tuesday I gave the answer with a diagram that helped people visualize it.

People’s eyes glazed over on Tuesday when I talked about color correction so on Wednesday I demonstrated the theory by showing them how to change the color of a shirt in a photograph.

I could see blank stares on Thursday when I talked about color spill so I just cut that section out on Friday. The class started improving.


 Sometimes the classes were more spontaneous than others. For instance, during week 5 when I was talking about selection, one guy asked, “Jeremy - could you put the duck’s head on the statue’s body?”

“Could I?” I said, “Yes. Of course. But should I? No. Absolutely not. That’s a horrible idea. That’s so far from what anyone would call art….just thinking about that causes me physical pain - what a terrible idea.” Then I stared at him and shook my head.

“Will you?” he asked.

“Well, because you asked-” Then I spent half an hour going through the exact steps needed to create that picture, while still covering the topics that needed covering.

The same thing happened with beauty retouching. At first I shot to make various faces as beautiful as possible, but then I started having fun showing the class how they could use the same techniques to turn a person into a hideous monster.

I reduced the class down to nothing but applicable example after applicable example. No one cared about a demonstration of the latest tool if they didn’t know how to apply it to their own lives. I saw that. I knew exactly what worked.

But I started to get bored again after the 40th time. This job wasn’t making me the artist I wanted to become. It was making me a teacher.

Worse than that, the company slowly started taking things away. They took away the room’s coffee, started booking us in different hotels from where we were teaching, went from physical mail to email (that one I understood), and other small changes of the sort.

They sent out a contract to get all their trainers to take a pay cut ‘due to the economy.’ It was the final straw. I didn’t sign it, and didn’t hear from them until four months later when I got a form email, firing me. It was time, and I was glad it was over. You can only teach the same class so many times before it drives you mad.

It was time to start my own business.

Next Week: Part 8. Trying (Failing) to Start Up my Own Business

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