Things have flipped to the other side of the moon… at least in the landscape for “creatives”. Specialization used to be the standard. Having multiple skills seemed to be looked down upon. Back in my motion graphics (only) days, multi-skilled meant for me doing 6 job functions while the After Effects “expert” only did one and had a noticeable difference in salary. My “expert” status in AE didn’t stop them from utilizing my other skills at lesser pay. Now days, this same company has shed most of its specialized staff in place of freelance generalists.
3 years back or so I regularly saw classifieds for the equivalent of “Multi-skilled Sucker: Must know Photoshop, After Effects, Maya, Cinema 4DXL, Motion Builder, Flash w/ Actionscript 3.0, Dreamweaver, Flame, Combustion, Cold Fusion, Final Cut Pro, Finger Puppetry, Navigate space/time folds… 12/hr* Must have software & lap top.” These ads were from smaller pimps *errr * ah I mean companies. Now I’m seeing the equivalent from legit companies at about 10 bucks more an hour.
So many things now seem to be a buyer’s market. Photos, music, opinions are at such a point of saturation that it bleeds over into the professional sphere. A given the 20 year shift of power to where the bean counters have been the ultimate authority of budget, look, and sound in many creative fields it would be logical to assume with the way finances have shaken globally that you can be treated like an undocumented-strawberry picker if you allow yourself to be. Consider that there are a lot of graduates who have been looking a couple of years for their 1st sniff of a real gig and you see the difficulties and necessity of differentiation.
Differentiation, targeting, etc. are specialization of your image: not inherently your skill set. Weird.
I want to work but not for less. What do I do?
- Targeting: Matching companies that advertise in styles within the range of my strengths.
- Getting lean: Organizing so when opportunities arise, the strike forward is already prepared.
- Promo materials: I’m a tree killer and not a fan of the virtual reach so I’m dropping bcards like my cell drops calls and making specialized collateral and html email.
- Package deals: 4 sets of definitive options for a potential client so they can match their needs
- Ancillary efforts: art direction, set building, media production, exhibitions, etc.
- Sharpen whiskers so that when the economy keeps kicking me in the face it might get a little scratched up for its efforts.