Creativity is the cure for unemployment. This summer, despite being a relatively successful z-list commercial model and actor in Montreal, Quebec, I hit the Sahara desert of dry spells. Needing to make rent, I accepted a position as a part-time cleaning lady for my building’s superintendent and cleaned vacant apartments, stinky stairwells, and dusty, dirty garages. My new role was not the brightest hour of my professional life; catwalks, callbacks and cash, industrial cleaning was not. In between mopping, shoveling, and hauling ashes from old fireplaces like a bedraggled Cinderella, I applied to as many gigs on Craigslist as I could, hoping to find something paying more than my $12-an-hour grueling summer job.
After slogging through countless posts on Craigslist, I thought, “What is the minimum that I would want to be paid for my services? What amount would I be content to leave my house for?” The answer: $10,000. Then I checked out my empty fridge, pile of unpaid bills, and settled for $100. I also thought that the amount was approachable for most potential employers, and, with my understanding of the bargain economics of Craigslist, it felt like the right amount to charge for my services of actor/model/cleaning lady/desk monkey/no, I’m not a prostitute, k, thanks, bye.
As I already self-produced and hosted a web series, “Fashion Ambush,” my new media producer brain quickly morphed my idea into a grassroots web project. Why not turn my quest for $100 gigs into an inspirational journey? Why not try to complete 100 jobs for $100? I’d be able to raise awareness about the creativity, energy, and persistence it takes to make ends meet as a typical unfunded artist. I’d shatter myths about the modeling and acting industry, and I’d get to push the boundaries of my creative talents. I also knew I was not the only underemployed, skilled worker who was forced into using all that she has to find employment in our challenging economy.
After a gourmet lunch of mac and cheese, on Saturday, September 12, 2009, I set up a website, and within two hours of posting my first ad, I was hired by Brent Barrett of SocialMediaMontreal.com to film a client of his and be interviewed for his blog. I knew I was on to something very exciting and potentially very big. God bless the internet, my B.A. in English, Windows’s Movie Maker, and the affordability of hand-held digital cameras!
I’m now over a fifth of the way through my project, and the jobs just keep getting better. Proof: this article is Job 22. I’m also off to Chicago in the New Year to dress up as a superhero in a custom Lycra costume, likely in a One Hundred Jobs superhero costume, for a designer/photographer who found me on YouTube.
Getting jobs has evolved into a domino effect as I expand my professional network. At first, I obtained my jobs through a mixture of offering my services for $100 on Craigslist, Model Mayhem, and Kijiji, and applying for job postings anywhere I could online. However, as I go along, employers and employees from my completed jobs suggest me to their friends, pass on the word about my project, or hire me again for different services at much higher rates than my $100 introductory offer. I also have started to pitch jobs to employers I think could use my services, like I did for LeisureRules.ca, where I’ll be designing a custom treasure hunt in Toronto for $100.
My job experiences thus far have ranged from amazing and touching, like when I was paid to hand-deliver a mango cheesecake from Montreal to Toronto as a present from a guy to his closest girl friend, to incomprehensibly crappy, when I worked for a marketing company as a Blackberry Mascot. During my mascot job, the costume was broken, damaged, and impossible to see or walk in. The costume kept hitting me repeatedly on the thigh and the face. Job 9 was Crap Job #1, the only job thus far to earn such a distinction.
One Hundred Jobs has changed my life: professionally, artistically and personally. It started as a strategy to generate revenue, but has evolved into a rewarding full-time job that makes use of all of my artistic skills. It has given me courage and passion to follow through on many of my artistic and professional goals: I am earning my stripes as a new media producer, getting an invaluable opportunity to build my craft, reputation, and fan base as an actor, model, and host, and I’m writing a book. If you feel like your employment situation is undesirable, lagging, or non-existent, I invite you to start your own 100 jobs journey. I firmly believe that the only way to incite change in your life is by doing, and, in my case, by completing 100 jobs.
Visit Aimee Davison’s project: One Hundred Jobs.