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Removing A Word

A column article, Mission: Professional by: Steven Savage

I meet many people who want careers in comics (and any other geeky profession). They want to be a comic artist, or a comic writer, or ...well you get the idea.

And be it comics or anything else, one of the most valuable things I tell people is no matter what title you wish, take away the first word and they you know what you really are. You'll also know what you have to do.

Don't be a comic artist first. Be an artist.

Don't be a comic writer first. Be a writer.

You get the idea.

This applies to artistic pursuits, technical pursuits, everything else. I myself, often called a Technical Project Manager find I work best when I don't always think of the technical part. That part of my title comes after the fact of being bloody well organized.

If you want to write for comics you really want to be a writer. Same for artist, marketer, and anything else. Where you work is of secondary importance to being really good at what you want to do.

If you want your career in comics ...start thinking beyond them.

First, to be truly good at something you can't limit yourself or you can't grow. As an artist, you'll grow more if you do more than comics. As a writer, you'll do more if you write many things. Narrowing down too early on creative skills can narrow your opportunities to grow.

Secondly, to be brutally frank, not everyone does a specific "industry job" all the time or even full time. Many artists, writers, consultants, analysts, etc. work in many industries and often with many employers/clients at a time. Not limiting yourself extensively means you have more ways to make money - many writers make a living writing, well, anything.

Third, you may not like an industry after awhile - or for a time. Focusing on an industry too much can limit you - and if you change (or the industry does) you may find it awful hard to get out and move on.

Fourth, what your job is many change. The software a writer uses, the tools an artist uses, the techniques an advertiser uses have changed rapidly in the last decade. If you focus on being good at your profession, as opposed to one industry, you'll stay aware of these changes - and be able to adapt to them. For that matter, you might be able to cause them.

Fifth, you may find an outside perspective useful. If you've ever been on a job where you wanted to scream "don't you see what you're doing wrong," you understand the value of keeping a broad perspective. Many's the time I've been thankful for diverse experience because I could calmly and rationally tell someone "yeah, this is stupid."

Finally, and most importantly, focusing on your skills as a writer, artist, etc. gives you options. You can pick and choose work as needed since you're not narrowly focused. You meet many interesting people (and get many interesting opportunities). You can try new things as needed - or required by a tough economy.

Focusing on your skills before your industry is needed these days - both by you and potential employers and clients. So take a moment and ask if you need to drop a word or two from your profession of choice.

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