Darren writes, “Would love to hear your take on what makes a senior finished artist and their place in the design chain. I know a number (myself included) of senior finished artists with exceptional layout, typographical and branding design skills out there who often don't know how to market themselves to best effect because we don't fit into a convenient category for recruiters. However large agencies and boutique design shops really value having them in their studio as they get so much value from their ability to work in both realms of graphic design and high end finished art.
I wonder if you have any thoughts on how we cut through the clutter of titles that have sprung up in the last 2 years? Also most seniors in this industry or in the 35 to 45 year old bracket which is a whole different barrel of monkeys and issues for maintaining a career in our industry.”
Darren actually poses some great questions which have clearly come from his observations over the past few years.
My thoughts are along these lines; when you start to do design work / requirements, then you are beginning to step outside of the job title that you've been hired under. This isn't a bad thing; in fact, it's awesome and necessary for career development. Without these opportunities, we tend to find that our jobs become stale and we don't develop skills to take us to the next level.
When the GFC hit in 2008, we saw many companies reduce their headcount and, as things started to pick back up, they combined elements of job briefs to help get the resources they needed without needing to bring on multiple people. Over the years, I've been asked to find some unusual combinations, including things like a Finished Artist / Proofreader or a Graphic Designer / Account Manager.
As confusing as it is, we should look at the benefits that have come from this; an increase in skill development and an ability to make our work a little more diverse. Yes, it does mean that it is harder to 'label' our titles however I think it is sometimes more straight forward to keep the official job title and then to ensure you've listed the additional skills you've developed over that time.
Some recruiters may struggle as this is 'not fitting into the clearly labeled categories' however most nowadays are going to be smarter than that. They might ask what title you most relate to and then follow it up with what other titles you feel could be applicable. You could effectively say you're a Senior Finished Artist AND a Midweight Graphic Designer, based on what experience you may have.
Maintaining a career is going to be a challenge for everyone regardless of industry. In my experience, graphic designers often go on to become more client related where as finished artists tend to go on to more production or studio management related roles. This is, of course, a vast generalisation but it is a trend that I have noticed over time. Some, however, leave the industry altogether; some of my former best freelancers are now police officers, fitness instructors and lawyers! Ultimately, it is about being able to have a vision as to where you would like to go and not relying solely on fate to take you there.
Of course, if you have any thoughts, questions or simply would like to get in touch with me and offer up a topic for the next Ask Lawrence, you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find me and connect with me on LinkedIn. You can check out more jobs by going to our website or you can search for them on Twitter via #CRJOBS.
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