Why the Hell is Editorial Making Design Decisions? Part 2.
This is a great article about New York based artist Deekay Kwon over at The Verge which you can see here, TheVerge - Deekay Kwon Article.
At the beginning of the article it's stated that Deekay Kwon was a student at The School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York but had to drop out due to financial circumstances. He made his circumstances work for him working as a freelance artist with many big clients on his resume. This struck close to home for me for a couple of reasons.
I'm an alum from University of the Arts in the Animation/Film department. When I was student there, the majority of the animation staff were horribly behind the times to the extent that computer animation wasn't even taken seriously. One instructor, Lowell, actually said in one of my animation studio classes that computer animation is a fad that wouldn't last because traditional animation techniques wouldn't work with computers. Ironic, is it not considering the times and what's been produced over the last 20 years or so using computers for animation?
The other problem was our equipment was horribly outdated. While other schools were allowing digital transfers and output of their animations, UArts forced its students to only output to film using 16mm bolex (single shot, frame by frame transfers) and this huge 8 or 9 foot camera device, the name of it escapes me, that took up its own room was also used to transfer animation drawings to film. Single shot, frame by frame. It was ridiculous. The department head, Sheila outright rejected digital transfers in their entirety. So, while other schools such as SVA in New York were working with Premiere, Photoshop, AfterEffects on Macs and PCs, UArts was still transferring animations clumsily to film with no option to edit or output digitally. It's the equivalent of forcing students to use horse and buggy while everyone else is driving modern cars. There is a part of me that truly regrets ever attending UArts for animation as it proved to be a horrible decision. So I understand the positive side of Deekay actually not finishing college even though he attended a better school than University of the Arts. There is also much to be said about the accumulated debt that comes with a college degree.
I know it couldn't have been easy for Deekay Kwon to make a go of it as a freelance artist in New York, but he did and congrats to him. Some don't have the drive or dedication to stay the course and others are affected as life ultimately demands other avenues. But for those that work freelance in any capacity, similar to dealing with inadequate teaching staff, there are times when working with difficult clients can test the patience of the best of us. Sometimes, a client will have a very inflated view of their own creativity. This causes a number of problems throughout the creative process but one key problem that many creatives can relate to is when a client requests something that clearly can not work in their project but they insist on it after it's explained why the idea is bad. When the artist follows the instructions of the client and the product looks like total shit, the client blames the artist as if they didn't follow instructions or simply aren't good enough to make the bad idea work. Even if the client loves the terrible product, the artist knows that the final is bad which creates the dilemma of "how can I add this to my portfolio? It's shit."
As mentioned in a previous post, there was a time I interviewed with a firm that needed a graphic designer/illustrator to create web content. I received a job offer but ultimately rejected it for two key reasons.
1) the company didn't have an art director and I was told that they felt they didn't need one. That's a huge red flag for me that points back to the previous example. Nothing good comes from a creative corporate environment when non-artists with inflated views of their own creativity are in positions to make design decisions. If this is not believed, then look no further than the firm's work. It's always ironic when a firm lists requirements for a creative candidate or a high level of skill that their own corporate work doesn't demonstrate.
2) the company didn't want to pay a fair rate. This is a constant problem for creatives. Companies undervalue artists all the time and look for ways to manipulate the situation to pay them as little as possible with no benefits while still getting the maximum of their talent. This particular firm was no different. A customer asking a firm to perform the duties of three different companies for one flat under market rate would be met with scorn and rejected. But firms have absolutely no problem asking artists to perform the creative duties of three different positions for one low salary and in some cases, expect the work to be done in less than 20 hours a week. It's nonsense.
Artists dedicate many hours and many years developing their craft. It's a fascinating thing to meet someone that has the ability to create. But this ability also tends to cause a lot of envy, a lot of apprehension and a lot of jealousy in some people. It causes some people to undervalue, belittle, diminish or disregard in an effort to deal with the guilt of their own shortcomings. Such as creative directors that aren't good at their job turning away talent for fear of being exposed as a hack or corporate suits that believe that a creative director's job doesn't require any specific knowledge or training taking on the mantle to uplift him/herself while belittling real creative directors. (For an example of the chaos an unqualified/unfit hire causes, look no further than the Trump administration, starting with Trump himself).
Think about it, the average artist is going to create whether they're getting paid to do it or not. The passion for the craft drives us, compels us to create. The passion for the craft for many artists goes beyond money even though we need it to survive just like anyone else. It's that passion that is also misunderstood. In an age where laziness and mediocrity are held as virtues, having dedication to a craft can easily be viewed as a sin.