If you look at my signature, you'll notice that I do not cite myself as a "freelance" herald anymore. Effective immediately, I am stepping back from my work in this field.
I will honor all existing agreements with current clients, fear not. And I will be glad to answer any heraldic questions I can. I still look forward to helping at consulting tables, talking arms and names, and even doing functional blazoning and illustrative work for people.
By no means am I washing my hands of heraldry, voice or book.
However, my previous modus operandi of spearheading a person's heraldic situation and tracking it through "the system" to the final decision is officially coming to its conclusion today. As I said before, I will honor my existing agreements, and see it to that the people to whom I promised results get those results. No mater my current situation, I am still bound by those agreements.
I'm sure some of you think you know the story behind this, but rest assured, you don't, at least not all of it. This decision is many-faceted, and born more of internal reasons than external, but trust me, there is no lack of outside influences either.
Part of the reason I am blogging this is to highlight some of the things I have learned, and to reiterate how important it is for any herald to take this things to heart.
1. This is your client.
It doesn't matter who you are, or what you do, for the moment that someone is talking to you about heraldry, every word out of your mouth speaks to your credibility. Be honest both with them and yourself. Be resource both for them and for you. And keep your promises.
2. Use all resources at your disposal
Today more than ever, an individual with an internet connection through his smartphone has the ability to get as much done faster with minimal training than some heraldic consulting tables of a decade before. If you want to do heraldry, you would be well advised to subscribe t resources like Facebook's 'SCA Herald's Chat' page, 'Baby Heralds of the SCA', and any of your local kingdom groups in any social media setting. Other resources include Yehuda’s heraldy chart, Parker's heraldry, Mistholme, and of course OSCAR. These are but a few of the readily available online and electronic resources that anyone, officer or freelancer, can have at their disposal. If you din't have these, or have access to them, in my opinion, you are shorting yourself some critical tools.
Nothing has taught me more about this fact that my first six months of work in book heraldry. A good herald lives or dies on the strength of his connections with others. First for education, but then also for verification, reinforcement, and feedback. Don't ever underestimate the social aspect either, there is something just unbelievably therapeutic about being able to bitch with someone about something both heraldic and annoying and having someone there who can absolutely understand your frustration. And lastly, your friends are the shoulders you can call on to carry the load when you can not. You can turn to others and say "My car broke down, my pet died, there is a leaking pipe under my sink, and the bills are due... can someone please help these three people so that they don't have to wait another month for their submissions paperwork?" As heralds, we are a team, and if you forget that, you forget a resource that is there and wants to help you, trust me, for all our faults, I've never asked for help at a heralds point and not gotten at least three offers.
I write these things because they are important to me. But also, I am fully aware that I am probably the loudest (and least tactful at times) advocate for some of them. Circumstances being what they are currently, I will probably not be in a position to soapbox on the subject like I used to. I'm sure this will do wonders for the average noise volume on the net (ie, things might actually be quiet for a change), but I didn't want there to be any confusion about how strongly I still believe in these.
And finally, just before those most removed from me think the worst, the changes I speak of are not the product of any ill deed, coercion or outside pressure. The truth be told at the core, I am still striving to do what I feel is important, but at the moment, there is just a little transition involved.
Believe me, my adventure as herald is far from over, and in fact, I'm rather looking forward to the next chapter.
His Lordship Ivo Blackhawk
Minister of Arts and Sciences, and Marshal for Archery
within the Province of Mooneschadowe,
Companion to the Order of the Star of Merrit
within the Kingdom of Ansteorra
"Long Live the King!"