As a print designer I know too well the dire employment situation and the unrealistic expectations that potential employers often expect from candidates. Based on some of their posted expectations for filling a creative position, it seems as though our niche is destined to absorb some of the interactive or other market—those print designosaurs who don't seem Darwin-destined to be snuffed out by evolution. Or, maybe not.
It's my observation that those who seem to succeed dedicate themselves to a particular creative niche. For ex., I may decide to dedicate myself to becoming a top-notch movie poster designer, or illustrator, or logo designer, etc. In that way, instead of marking myself as a sort of jack of all trades to a general audience, I increase the probability of being recognized as a specialist in that field, particularly to those who run in those select circles. People within that industry will find it easier to recognize my unique skillset.
I recently had to once again re-ignite my business and am currently in the process of re-evaluating my own target market. At this stage of my game, I really don't desire to cast a "general" wide net by trying to be good at a little bit of everything, since I have rarely seen that it's been proven to land many "fish." Among the things I'm presently exploring are my creative strengths and how I can most productively apply them towards the success of my career, even in this drab economy.
I can drone on, but perhaps my ultimate advice is this. For those of you at a career crossroads, for those who have been forced by the economy or current circumstance to re-consider or reflect on their employment situation or goals, examine what your strengths are, and find a way to apply it to your market, either as an in-houser or an independent contractor. If your gridwork is sheer genius, consider applying for a magazine's design department. If you can retouch the pants off of images (quite literally), then consider an employer or client that revolves around fashion, photography or pre-press circles. If illustration's your thing, or if you can design a book cover like nobody's business, look towards book publications or hire an illustration agent. Have a flair for invitation design? Look towards non-profits or the wedding market.
I certainly am not aiming to bunk the pros of trying to expand your skill set, especially if you are so inclined. However there are other approaches for staying in the game, by looking inward and focusing your objectives instead.
All rights reserved.