Now Hiring in Chicago! Office Administrator / Workshop Assistant

Now Hiring

CLOSED: As of September 10th, 2015, I am no longer accepting applications. A TON of people applied, so thank you! Am in the process of emails and interviews now, but no longer looking for any further applications for this position. Cool!

I need some pretty substantial administrative and shipping help at my Chicago workshop. I’m primarily an illustrator, but as my company has grown more successful selling artwork, the customer service and shipping needs have skyrocketed.

I’ve hired one great assistant before, and they’ve stayed with us for an entire year, but now the company needs a lot more help than the 10 hrs per week we had assigned them, so this post is a search for somebody who has 25 hours a week available to work. By this time next year it could become a full-time, permanent position. But until then, we’re looking for a flat 25 hours per week (at least through January). Hours could change mid next year, or possibly develop into a full-time position in 12 months or so. It’s a small company with wild ups and downs, but it’s super fun, and we’re selling more prints now than ever! So come on board.

Fringe Focus PAX

The Fringe Focus workshop is CURRENTLY in Logan Square. But we’re aiming to move to Lakeview at some point in the next year, so being located near either neighborhood is ideal. Fringe Focus is an art studio, production center, office, and woodshop. Fringe Focus designs (and sells) screen prints, posters, and laser engraved housewares via There are occasionally gallery shows or fairs as well. We just did Renegade Craft Fair and PAX Prime in Seattle. (Helping with shows or prep work is part of the gig, once in a while)

Fringe Focus Desk

I am looking for an entry level part-time office administrator / workshop assistant. Honestly the title can be whatever, the work changes month-to-month anyway. I produce new work every month, and you’d be assisting me in producing art and housewares for customers all over the world.

This means cutting wood, gluing projects together, staining / finishing, and operating a wide variety of small power tools (table saw, drill press, hand tools). It means responding to a wide variety of customer emails as quickly as possible. And it means working with our pretty killer custom shipping software to mail art to people’s homes, pretty much every day. And ideally we’ll have some free time to invent new projects, make the shop more efficient, and do some marketing.

It’s very much a job for a generalist, or somebody who would like a good look at what it’s like to run a small company by themselves.

Did I mention there is a laser cutter? We’re gonna burn things.

Fringe Focus Inc. is a successful independent art studio. It’s not huge, but it’s a successful machine and requires great care. The workshop is the design and illustration office, the production studio, and the fulfillment center (all in one). The office administrator / workshop assistant would primarily be working in the shipping / packaging station, and at the computer making sure all customers get their art smoothly.

You’ll also learn quite a bit about running a small business, and working for yourself. Fringe Focus Inc. has no clients, and nobody to answer to. There are no conference rooms, no phone calls, and no exact schedule (we’re flexible, but there are windows each day we need somebody at the office for sure). If you’re very detail oriented and can follow instructions, you’ll be able to learn how to operate every machine in the woodshop (including the laser cutter).

So this is 40% admin and customer service job, 40% shipping labor, and 20% totally random stuff we’ll basically just make up as we go along.

Production tasks will vary, but may include:

  • Cutting wood and other materials.
  • Staining / Finishing / Painting.
  • Operating a laser cutter.
  • Gluing or fastening projects together.
  • Drilling… holes… into stuff.
  • (Production tasks will be repetitive, we may make thousands of one item)

Shipping tasks are daily, and include:

  • Filling boxes with packing material and artwork.
  • Packing tubes with rolled posters.
  • Printing and applying shipping labels.
  • Mailing postcards and small items.
  • Usually need to ship under 10 packages a day, but around once a month we get a wave of 200+ packages at a time.

Organizational / Efficiency Tasks:

  • Keeping workbenches organized
  • Cleaning & vacuuming dust
  • Printing detailed labels / instructions for various tools & machines
  • Building jigs to make boring tasks easier for both of us
  • Building workshop furniture, like shelves, racks, and tables (to be used as infrastructure here)
  • Going on quick runs to the hardware store or art store for supplies.

Customer Service Tasks:

  • Remembering tiny details about tons of different orders every week
  • Customers are 98% happy. 2% are not. Be able to deal with that 2%
  • Writing very quick / swift emails that get the job done

Skills & Qualifications:

Shop Skills:

Many skills you’ll learn here! But if you have experience, that’s cool too.
  • Operating wood shop power tools.
  • Operating a laser cutter.
  • Operating laser cutter software & and design software.
  • Wood finishing techniques
  • Using a spray booth.
  • Building furniture.
  • Fulfilling online orders.
  • Efficiently packing boxes, tubes, etc.

Necessary Skills and Traits:

  • Be awesome. And kind. And calm. And super nice to customers, and medium-nice to me.
  • Having ‘an eye’. That means being detail oriented and having taste.
  • Can follow strict instructions exactly.
  • Are always hunting for a more efficient / faster way to complete a task.
  • Focused, responsible, and awake when operating power tools.
  • Have better handwriting than me.
  • Enjoy, appreciate, or practice the visual arts (in any capacity).
  • You’re confident, intelligent, and curious.
  • You like to make things with your hands.
  • You’re cool with repetitive tasks. (Packing 200 boxes, sanding 400 coasters, etc.)


  • Carbon based. From earth. Still living. (No robots, or floating heads in jars).
  • Graduated High School (mandatory).
  • Graduated College is optional, if you’re currently a student that is fantastic as well.
  • Can operate most Google apps, spreadsheets, etc.
  • Familiar with Photoshop or Illustrator (any skill level is fine).
  • Familiar with basic hand tools (drill, hammer, hand saws, etc.).
  • I would say familiar with social media, but that’s pretty much a given.
  • You live in Chicago. (Lakeview, Logan Square, or somewhere in between is ideal)
  • You’re available between the hours of 12pm-5pm every weekday. (Can be slightly flexible there)

To Apply:

As of Sep 10th 2015, I am no longer accepting applications for this position. Plenty of applicants already, and interviews are underway. Thank you for your time, and stay tuned in months/years to come for other positions at Fringe Focus!

Write an interesting (non-boring) email with the subject “Fringe Focus Office Assistant” to rob <at> fringefocus <dot> com

If you have artwork, or pictures of previous hobbies, send those as well. Show me stuff!

This is a an entry level paid part-time job. You need to be available every weekday in the afternoons due to package pickups and deliveries. Ideal hours are 12pm-5pm Monday to Friday, but we can be flexible for the right person. This could be ideal for someone that already has another part-time job, or if you have a school schedule.

I will make a decision at some point in September 2015, and an ideal start date is at some point in September 2015.

No phone calls. Ever. Ever. Ever.

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