Update That Resume

I was listening to a radio program this morning about the complexity of the employment market and how that continues to evolve during this depressed economy, and also how it is further complicated by the ongoing shift toward a service economy here in the US. Employers have been ratcheting up the requirements for jobseekers because, with a surplus of applicants for every position, they can ask for the moon and maybe get it. There is even a name for it now – “Super Candidate Syndrome”. The problem is that as they continue to pile proficiency and experience requirements onto a single job description they eventually reach critical mass – the point where no human could do the job as described. (And if there was such a candidate, what’s the chance they are unemployed?).

What I found interesting – particularly from an art licensing standpoint – is what skills and attributes they (and also savvy employers) think will be necessary for success in the future – many are quite the opposite of the old standards. Foremost is a “proven adaptability”, meaning the ability to adapt to and respond quickly to changes, both inside the company and outside in the marketplace. Others are: “hybrid skills”, meaning a combination of skills derived from a variety of sources and experiences; the ability to transcend multiple viewpoints; self motivation and self discipline so you can work without direct supervision; the ability to plan and maintain a “long term horizon” type of focus. And most surprising – multiple careers can now be a good thing on your resume because that will teach you much of the above.

Sound familiar? Could be a job description for an art licensing position, if there ever was such a thing. Think about the licensees or agencies as your employer, and your portfolio and presentations as your resume. They too are looking for “super candidates” in this market – thousands of artists from Indianapolis to India or Boston to Bejing can draw another snowman or jack-o-lantern, so what is going to make yours connect?

Get to work!

Every year about this time we always look at each other and ask “Where did all the business go?” – and then remember that about now it always slows down. The flood eases somewhat, most of the fires are out and we can take a breath, look around the office and wonder what actually ended up at the bottom of those piles on our desks.

In other words – time to buckle down and get to work on next year.

It took us a few years to understand the rhythm of our market. January through July is busy with the various shows and our clients’ sourcing schedules. The late summer months are all about follow up, contracts, art changes and last minute projects. As we head into fall, many of our clients are busy putting their new releases to bed, traveling to overseas factories and finishing up final production details so their new product lines are ready for the January introductions. Since as designers much of our work is done at the front end, we can now turn to some of our own “big picture” work – assessing what we learned this year, what we have versus what we need to have, and what has to be done so we can be ready for that second week of January…when it all starts again.

For an artist, the trick is to use this time wisely. It’s an opportunity to fill in the holes in your portfolio, finish that collection or start a new one (perhaps several?), maybe do some research. Get in the habit of scheduling some studio time to synch with the ebb and flow of the market and you will have a much easier time keeping up once it’s off and running.

New article and product

The question often comes up about what agents look for in an artist (even in our own offices…), I have a new article published on the subject on Kate Harper’s Greeting Card Designer blog – you can read it here. 
Also, Ronnie has some great new My Friend Ronnie product now out at Macy’s, you can see a bit more about it on her My Friend Ronnie blog here. 
Let me know what you think.

I read an interesting article published in the NY Times about the declining market for children’s books. (You can read it here). One would expect that the troubled economy has had an effect on the demand, which it has, and my guess would have been the technology shift as the other big culprit – however they call out a third factor that I hadn’t really considered.

We have always alternated between being amused and horrified by that driving need so many parents feel to make sure their children are going to be above average and hugely successful, but I had not made the connection between that and the decline of picture books. Seems that they are being perceived as too simple and not challenging enough for little Ivy League bound offspring – you know, let’s get them going on War and Peace as soon as they can manage to hang on to it. Assuming of course there is time between ballet, lacrosse, music lessons, French, creative writing and math camp. Man it’s tough being a 4 year old nowadays.

I just hope that in 20 years the article will not be about the lack of creativity shown by 24 year old Harvard graduates…

You’ll have to call me….

We had dinner last night with some good friends who also happen to be in the industry, and eventually talk turned to how people (artists in particular) are using blogs and social media in their careers. After a few war stories and the trading back and forth of a few favorite blogs to follow – nothing was really decided about the best way for an artist to make use of the various tools now available.

I was, however, happy to find at least one kindred soul in the group who, like me, does not feel the need to live their life in public on Facebook….

It did remind me of some rather shocking statistics that I read in some recent marketing book about the daily bombardment of media in today’s world:
Every day the average person is subjected to over 200 TV commercials, several to several hundred print ads, non-stop advertising on the street, bus, radio, highway and even in public bathrooms, several to one hundred or more emails, and then all the added noise from Twitter, Facebook, blogfeeds, texts, phones and internet advertising….
The result is what they call the “wallpaper effect” where most of it gets tuned out by the brain as a survival mechanism.

I think this is the potential trap of social media, particularly for those who think they are using it for their business but are doing so without any sort of filter on what they say or how often they say it. We monitor a couple of Twitter feeds just to be (regularly!) amazed by what and who they will tweet about – and we know some of their customers are reading them too. I am far from a digital Luddite but I don’t believe that it is necessary to know every detail and movement of every person I come in contact with, nor do I feel the need to tell them the same about me.

I guess I am just not interested in being part of the wallpaper.