I wrote this a couple weeks ago, but I’m just getting around to posting it now.
My body hurts. It’s a reminder of how far removed I am from manual labor, that three days of standing at a big art table, cutting large pieces of paper and assembling them into shopping bags (or more accurately, wallpapering printouts of a new design over blank pre-made bags) at a fast pace can be so taxing on the body.
I’ll describe the process to you:
- The bags are approximately 18×18 with side panels. I built it in Illustrator and sent it to the big printer. The print comes out. (That’s the easiest part).
- I have to send the print through the Xyron adhesive roller machine so it’s sticky on the back. This is a two-person job, too, otherwise the print will get stuck in the rollers and then I’ve wasted a print. And then we have to make sure the rollers are situated correctly before we can try again. The machine is old and delicate and can smell your fear.
- After we get a print successfully through the adhesive rollers, the next step is to trim the pieces down for assembly. Which comes with all the potential X-Acto knife disasters you can imagine. But we’re professionals. We made it through three days with no wounds.
- Then it’s time to peel the backing paper from the pieces and smooth onto the blank bag one at a time, being careful to avoid air bubbles and creases and making sure everything is aligned and straight. This is harder than it sounds, which is why two people need to do it.
- Trim any excess paper from the sides if necessary.
- Oh, I forgot to mention, we have to take the handles off the blank bags before we paste the new design onto them. Then after the new pieces are pasted down, we can re-attach the handles. It’s a pain in the ass, but it makes nicer-looking bags if we do it that way.
- Repeat as necessary until 36 bags are done.
We don’t really do each bag in that order though. First we would run about 10 prints through the adhesive rollers, then cut out all the pieces and then start assembling, and repeat the process when the next batch of prints was ready. It went a little faster that way.
Part of the exhaustion is mental, I know. Being confronted with the task of making 36 shopping bags in 3 work days is daunting when you don’t do it every day. At least I didn’t have to do it by myself. Theoretically you COULD do it by yourself, but then you’d fuck up a lot and have to re-do a lot of bags. And there was not a lot of time in built into the schedule for fucking up.
I spent about 8 hours doing that on Thursday, and 13 hours on Friday, so we were able to finish by noon on Monday. My feet and lower back hurt from standing, my shoulders hurt from hunching over the table cutting precise edges. My hands also hurt from gripping the knife and holding paper down. I can’t wait for my chiropractor appointment next week. I wanted to take a bath in Vicodin last night. Vicodin bath bombs seem like a really good idea. Is anyone working on that? If you have access to a good R&D lab and you want to investigate that idea, please have at it. Email me and I’ll let you know where to send me a check after you make a billion dollars from it.
Anyway, combining mental stress and trying to work fast at a task that I am rusty at (at best), for long hours and you might as well just spend an hour pummeling me with your fists and the end result would be about the same.
I know, you’ve been asking yourself the whole time, “Why are you making fake shopping bags anyway? That’s insane!” Yes it is. Our biggest client requested them for a commercial shoot. All I have to say is, I better see a commercial with a WALL of fucking shopping bags. Or 36 people dancing around with shopping bags. Because I really don’t want to find out this pain and effort was all for nothing.
Ultimately I suppose it IS for nothing, because it’s just advertising and that’s about as worthless an occupation as you can get. And don’t think I don’t think about that every minute I’m working on this shit. WHY AM I DOING THIS? Why is anyone doing this?
Which then leads me down the path of wondering what I’m supposed to be doing instead. I’ve been wondering about that for years and I still can’t figure it out.
If you know me and you think I have marketable skills for some other more worthwhile, legal task I could get paid for, please get in touch.