Do Good Work, Get Along With People, and Be On Time

Some of us props people have been talking recently about what advice to give to new props people entering the field. You need to know more than just what machines and materials to use, or what stores to shop at. This snippet of a commencement address given by Neil Gaiman was very relevant:

People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

Gaiman’s quote reminds me of another saying I’ve heard; I don’t remember the exact words, so I’ll paraphrase: “If you’re nice, you don’t always have to be right. If you’re a jerk, you have to be right all the time.” In other words, if people hate you, as soon as you make one mistake, they’ll use that to stop working with you.

Hard skills like welding, molding and casting, and upholstery can be difficult to learn when you don’t have a teacher or the resources needed. But you can always work on the soft skills that will help you get jobs: getting along with a variety of people and hitting your deadlines.

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