Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Does Anyone Still Have A Real Job?

Are People always asking you to "friend" them on a million social media sites that promise you rewards of eternal life, love and great jobs? Someone got me to sign up for "Linked In" about 4 years ago and it has not ever gotten me any work. All the work I get is from people who are already familiar with my stuff and they call or email me directly. I think my job description is too simple: "I make cartoons".

Now and then I'll read other people's jobs descriptions on "Linked In". I think I can see why if you do something that's tangible you may not find the kind of jobs that are available today.


Here are some typical skills that people advertise today:


"Develop, prioritize and execute optimizations for partners"


We all could use more "optimizations" so it's a good thing someone is continually developing them for us. I wonder why they murder them after they prioritize them?


"Manage strategy and execution for social media marketing by establishing best practices, developing brand voice, and streamlining efforts and positioning with international teams to launch an internal social media dashboard product for aggregated quantitative analytics."


I think if you put anything to do with "social media" in your job description, you expect your potential bosses to throw their money at you. This description admits the person does not actually produce anything; he manages others who do the very important job of aggregating "quantitative analytics". Where do you keep your analytics? I store mine under the sink.


Here is some detail that explains much more clearly what the worker above does:


"Manage large-scale conversational marketing campaigns that bring together brands, content, and audiences. As a digital media publisher, we bring together leading online voices with major brands to host robust social media environments where value-driven conversation is key. Management of these efforts involves working with cross-functional stakeholders (authors, sales, product strategy, engineering, accounting, finance, client services, etc.) and strategic partners to manage programs from inception through execution."


Can you imagine bosses dumb enough to hire someone on the basis of all this mumbo-jumbo? It must happen because so many people have job descriptions like this and people in charge believe it's somehow useful to spend a lot of money on fake jobs, while sending the real jobs to India and Korea and China.


What ever happened to jobs that are obvious and functional? Like: "I fix cars". "I design toys". I manage a grocery store". "I rob 7-Elevens".


There are a lot of theories about why the world economy has broken down. Mine is that nobody wants to actually do anything real anymore. Everyone is a manager of some group of researchers in the world of branding, social media (add your own trendy buzz-word) or focus testing. Or they are consultants for businesses that they have never actually worked in.


I think when corporations get too big, they stop thinking about making products and instead fill 57 stories of their skyscrapers with managers, middle managers, experts and consultants, none of whom have ever made anything with their hands. - Certainly not the product that the corporation ultimately wants to sell - if they sell anything at all. There are huge corporations now that don't seem to produce anything - consulting firms, ad agencies, some of the well known internet giants...


Even in animation, we now have lots of job categories that for the life of me I can't figure out their purpose: Concept Artist, Storyboard Revisionist, Note-Givers, not to mention the armies of executive producers that fill up the opening credits of many cartoons. I get all kinds of crazy skills described in animation graduate resumes. It's never "I can animate" "I can clean up and inbetween" or "I can do background layout". It's always management jobs or directing and designing and concept art - basically starting at the top. Not many want to do the actual work on a job anymore. I guess the schools must encourage that; I don't really know.


Imagine how much more efficient and cost effective the world would be if people still made things and we eliminated all the experts and managers and consultants with vague job descriptions that stop things from getting made by people who actually know how to make them. And we could make things in the country again.



127 comments:

Hiland. said...

AND GET OFF MY LAWN!!!!

Vicky Jean-Louis said...

simply astonishing!! I believe you!

JohnK said...

That's right. Unless you wanna mow it for 5 bucks and earn your keep.

Will Finn said...

Whoo boy John, whatta topic. I wish we had time for a lunch sometime soon to kick this one around. I have a hunch it is all about corporatization versus simple, old-fashioned business. Here's my armchair 2 cents:

As best as i can understand it corporatization turns companies which make tangible goods and services to sell to the general public into de-facto private banks, which are storehouses of wealth for those in control of the corporation to gamble with. We've all seen it: every last physical and intellectual property in the company has to inventoried and evaluated, so that the aggregate values can be tallied into the projected wealth of the entity. (This requires round the clock employment of bean-counters!) The leaders in charge of doing this are not interested in the company for any other reason than it represents a store of wealth for them to gamble with on Wall Street. only one thing matters: extracting the maximum wealth from the company as quickly as humanly possible into the hands of the tiniest percentage of the corporate leaders through a system of private interactions that have nothing to do with the goals of the company originally. of course this often results in ruining the company in question and destroying its productivity (or at least its integrity) but the engineers of this process could care less. they've enriched themselves and that's all that matters. if the company does not go under, so much the better: those in charge double down on the next round and keep playing until there's nothing left. everybody says it's a broken system, but from what as far as I can tell, it's working perfectly for the people who designed it.

Andrés Sanhueza said...

Down here at design college, is always said that design is just "think" rather than produce. I may think it make sense, yet it always seemed somewhat snobbish to me because, if you can "think" but really don't know anything about how actually making stuff, you role as "designer" ends being the same as the "client", who only ask you for vague and often impossible duties and the actual technical designers have to figure the stuff.

Probably creating "iconic" stuff can't be taught, but being able to do at least "functional" stuff can. These basic skills are always frowned at college because they seems more associated with "art", which is seen like the antonymous of design as they are always seen like "personal" and "postmodernist" stuff rather than functional. :( I somewhat feel I wasted 4 years of study for the worse, yet I still have hope of start learning when I graduate.

Ptermclean Design said...

Great example: SONY. They just released the PS VITA and upper management doesn't know its full capabilities. Low and behold, to Sony's constant failures... they screwed up the release of this product as well.

I stick with the title of pixel pusher. I also keep it light and breezy, even my boss doesnt know what I do.

SparkyMK3 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JohnK said...

Hey Will

I think you are giving people too much credit for designing the system on purpose. Most of them just fall into their (fake) jobs.

I think most of the corporate executive types just move from company to company spending money but not generating any for the company itself.

The only way these companies stay in existence at all is because they are monopolies that don't allow competition from smaller leaner companies that actually make things.

We need trust busters.

2Dciple said...

Buzzwords, to make skill sets and job requirments seem more sophisticated than they really are, else people start to realize that anyone with half a brain could do these people's jobs.

As far as "concept" artists, I can see how it applies to film and video games, mediums whose final product is a completely different form of visual representation, but in animation, shouln't the animators be the artists?

Elana Pritchard said...

I think the only way to for people get anything of merit accomplished at the present time, is to forgo these corporations and work together independently. While everyone is distracted by foolishness, it leaves the door wide open for people with enough patience, humility, and willingness to work together to swoop in and do amazing things. However, from experience I can tell you these brave people are incredibly rare.
We must not be discouraged, we must look forward to the future, and we must again use technology for its original purpose, to benefit humanity, not substitute it.

Andy J. Latham said...

Wow what a great post John. I think you hit the nail on the head with the comment about noone wanting to work, shipping all that stuff overseas.

It's annoying for those of us who do want to work. I'm lucky enough to have an animation job, but I have to fight to be allowed to continue to do what I do. I don't want to be in charge of other people, I want to be good at animating.

Also, I don't know what it's like there in the US, but here in the UK every single boy and girl is pushed to go to university with the goal of being at the top of the pile - to be managing. Noone seems to realise that that idea can't possibly work!

Johnathan Mastron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeffreyJack said...

Numerical analysis of legume production methodologies in situational post-collection accumulation synthesis = Bean counter.

Severin said...

On the contrary, when I was in school I was told from the beginning that I'd begin as a clean-up artist and work my way up to the top, learning as I go. Because that's how my professors did it. Only after I started shopping around for jobs did I realize that none of that ground-level work even existed any more.

Seriously, I'd love nothing more than to reliably find cleanup work, especially something that offered the possibility of moving up to something better. Instead the best I can hope for are occasional, temporary freelance gigs.

Archie said...

My tutors told me on a couple of occasions never to refer to my work as cartoons as it wasn't descriptive enough to what i actually did. Which i dont think was true...all i did was draw cartoons.

JohnK said...

Even "bean counter" sounds like a real job to me.

I don't how anyone could possibly calculate beans today out of all the vague nondescript jobs that don't actually generate profits.

Perica and Toshke said...

I thought that it's happening only in my place but it has become a global syndrome.

teodor

Shawn Atkins said...

Well said sir. Well said.

Miles said...

jobs exist today - things are still being made here in this country, just at a very different rate in accordance with supply and demand. feast or famine is the time we are living in, and that's not going to come to an end any time soon. nor for that matter are men and women going to stop all the procreation and so long as that is true the world will still need babysitters (TVs), pizzas, salads, and clowns. the question is not whether or not the world holds any opportunity for the folks living in it, the question is how do those opportunities serve humanity - ALL of humanity. the ages of cartoon bigshots isn't over yet either - ask mike judge or matt and trey or seth ... the jobs that exist serve a greater purpose than honoring one's creative self - and Mr K i am NOT talking about you... there are PLENTY of door slamming runny nosed youths with amoral notions about how they'll gain and moreover what will be done with the means once they have acquired them. without adding to the value of online ad revenue there is next to no $ value in any job - if one creates a pilot for nothing that jives with the populous via youtube twitter tumblr mycorn iwerk facestore or linkerizer then they are the sweepstakes winner who nets all of that online ad revenue (like so many are doing with ads on their blogs) ... and then by making a pilot become a series they create a finite number domestic jobs - the skills market is in full swing. the key to an career - not just a job - is self improvement ... and that's a snap. i love your spitfire truth telling John - it's always a real pleasure to see what's on your mind here!

Undertow said...

You can be a very good artist and still not get work. I'm not saying that I'm a very good artist. i'm a ok artist. But you also have to work well with a team. You can say to to your self you can do it all but you need to show the team how to do it and don't Judge them if there get it wrong. I alway look at the good things of a young artist when there show there work. Then I would tell or show them how to be a better artist. If you put people down there will not care about you anymore and there will hate you for it.

Tom Ruegger said...

Beautiful post -- perfectly stated. At times, it seems like the whole business has been taken over by carpetbaggers.

Moro Rogers said...

The job of a concept artist is to do a bunch of really cool art that no one ever uses.

Pete Emslie said...

John, thanks so much for this post that really cuts through all the bullshit of online business networking. I've long been leery of Linked-in myself, as it has never led to any paying work for me either. Frankly, I'm so happy to read your blunt assessment of Linked-in that I have just now gone and closed down my account, thankful to be rid of it. Thanks again for not mincing words and telling it like it is!

crolyss said...

Until all this stuff with the fake economy finishes our kind are just gonna have to wait to be able to get the kind useful jobs we want again. The bubbles are still not over. Until they are, shoddiness is going to continue to be the norm. The banality of the 80s you talked about so often is just carrying through. Its more prevalent now because the technology exists to do 10 times the half assed work in a third of the time, regardless of what industry you apply that idea to. Everybody is scrambling before the collapse to accumulate as much wealth before it's too late, and so massive imbalances exist everywhere.

Yeah, those Wall Street bastards have a lot to answer for.

Anyone else wish it was 1935 again?

Unknown said...

There is a lot of data out there backing this essay up. Management makes way too much money and hands-on experience just isn't valued enough. The only way off the treadmill is to turn into a Trust-buster.

bergsten said...

Sadly, it's all quite simple -- we've simply legalized and institutionalized extortion.

Kurt Vonnegut was reputed to have given the following advice on how to become rich -- "find a lot of money changing hands and get in the middle."

All of these what-those-who-actually-produce-things would call non-productive elements in business are in fact "middlemen" and they all make a hell of a lot more money than those at the bottom of the pile driven to be creative.

And they have their hands on the spigots and aren't letting go.

And they are hiring more and more of themselves because they empire-build and have no metrics of how to be measured (if you hire somebody that is supposed to do something concrete and doesn't it reflects on you. If you hire somebody that just goes to meetings all day, you get promoted).

There is virtually no point in having a skill anymore unless it is quite unique or location-dependent (say, a plumber). There are plenty of humans around the world willing to work for a lot less than it costs us to live anywhere in the USA.

I'm really sorry, John, but we were suckered. We were told about the "better mousetrap." We were told that effort and results are their own reward and getting the meager, occasional, and fleeting "accomplishment high" we fell for it.

But the world has spit us out. We're too old -- experience and quality now count for nothing -- we've been trumped by cheapness, chiseling, and adequacy.

If some of us were lucky like you, we got our 15 minutes of fame. Other than being "nostalgia acts" our time has come and gone (and this is true of the generation or two younger than us too -- go ask Jhonen Vasquez what HE thinks of things).

What do we do? Beats the crap out of me -- I'm up for suggestions.

Boy, did you catch me on a bad day!

Trevor Thompson said...

Who'd have thought that the ending to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would one day come true? Other than Douglas Adams.

GuyCx said...

I love you, John. Simple as this.

DarkRoar said...

I work at a bank in IT and make these massive sets of data that some analysts use or something...

I think I almost do something. I report to 10 people indirectly. Most of these people sit around and chit-chat all day and then come and ask me for a status update at the end of the day.

If you try and accomplish a lot then these roadblocks come out of nowhere because (1) you'll make other people look bad and (2) management may have an extra page of work indirectly out of your work.

Most people are content with this and sit on the Internet 90% of the day or more. There's consultants working in my group and any time you walk by that area they are all on the Internet. Worse - if you ask them something they tell you to come back because they are busy (and they're on bestbuy.com looking for stuff to buy).

Every now and again you encounter someone who can both think for themself and doesn't mind doing some actual work and it's kind of mind-blowing; it just doesn't happen.

When I got out of University I started my own company and wrote little video games. I put tons of work into them and didn't make much money. Now I do a lot less work and make a lot more money. I think the thing I really get paid for is putting up with people - people are stressful; when I worked alone I didn't have that problem.

I don't know where I'm going with this, but the world is defintely a funny place.

encinocaveman said...

Jobs? who needs them! most jobs seem to be filler concepts rather than people doing actual work, like you point out.

the guy in this clip explains a way we can re-structure society to provide resources efficiently through technical and scientific means, he's mine blowing and i think you'll all enjoy =]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_btXktBTEi8

Thank you John K. for raising me on your cartoons, Happy New Year!

Alex Printz said...

a nation of managers who want to tell everyone else what to do, and don't actually want to learn how to do anything. 'My way or the highway' to those lower than you, and 'i'll kiss your ass if you pay me enough for a fancy car' to those above you.

We wonder why everything costs so damn much... you've gotta pay one guy to design it, one guy to gather the resources, one guy to actually make it, and nine guys to make sure they're all doing the right thing!


Even the art schools seem like this: teachers don't teach anything anymore but to have an ego about your work (regardless of if its good or not). Students don't want to learn skills, all they want is a 'style', and that will somehow get them to a point where they can tell a bunch of other people to make the actual work that looks like theirs.

David Germain said...

I have a linked in account that I hardly ever use. To me it just seems like a less attractive and more confusing version of Facebook that not as many people visit (maybe this was a Winkelvoss twins creation). I'll be staring an animation job on Monday and I'm pretty sure Linked In had nothing to do with it. (I'm thinking what might have done the trick for me was that I left a copy of my book Jesus Needs Help (in case you weren't sure of the title) in the main office as a "portfolio" of sorts. That's what I'm guessing anyway.)
I'm not sure what can be done to fix the animation industry. We're almost approaching the 50th anniversary of it becoming a soulless sausage factory. Less executives and more artists is definitely a good start, but how do we even begin to implement that?

Archie said...

Maybe all these starting jobs in the industry ive been looking for exsist but maybe they're just under a different name.

Ze [Zuplemento.com] said...

Kudos (from Venezuela),

Ze

mike fontanelli said...

You'll only get depressed reading that modern, ex-hippie crap. Suits and Snooki ruined the world.

There IS an antidote: TCM is honoring British cinematographer Jack Cardiff this month. (He did Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes, among others, back in the Golden Age of Everything.)

Back to the Fortress of Solitude, my sanity cocoon...

kurtwil said...

JK, I agree with you and Will about the current employment situation.

Additionally, during my long career arc I've seen companies go from mostly "staff/employee" to "contractor". "Staff/employee" meant you became part of the company, were expected to make a career with it, and were given opportunity to learn new skills/responsibilities. "Contractor" meant you get hired for a specific project ("Gollum Navel Jiggle Applicator"), did that job only, and get terminated once that job is done.
There's exceptions, of course. ;-)

In nutshell usually, an employee/staffer = asset, while a contractor = commodity.

BTW, remember Ralph Bakshi's story about hauling his desk from cel paint to Terrytoons' animation area, bugged directors for assignments, and animated! But he was an actual employee. A contractor wwould have a harder time pulling that trick off!

Elliot Cowan said...

G'day John.
How goes it?
You ask if schools encourage the kind of compartmentalised employment opportunities you discuss here.
I teach at several US Universities and can say from my experience that this isn't the case.

kurtwil said...

To add to Undertow's comments:

Those who want to survive in today's labor market should never, Never, NEVER, show anger while on the job!!!
All you'll do is frighten or piss off your co-workers and managers, and likely be demoted or shown the door.

Other than the top boss of the company (Steve Jobs, Ralph Bakshi, etc.) the days where employees can have Ralph Bakshi-type temper tantrums has passed!

Brick Layer said...

The official unemployment rate is said to be 9%. In actual fact it's anywhere from 15-22%. So yes, no one has a real job. And making pizza's with a college degree doesn't count. Hard working Americans and getting shafted this generation.

This conversation makes me want to go into every boardroom in America and DDT everyone present. Take up space? Take jobs away? Take this steel chair to the face.

Carol Wyatt said...

Concept art is the same as what used to be pre production, the few weeks before production starts where you get to try out a lot of different ideas and decide on the style from those ideas. Push the envelope. Usually a concept artist is on a project all the way through but may be called BG designer, color designer, or art director. Or all three but only gets paid as a painter.

C'mon John, you know this stuff.

Storyboard revisionist is storyboard cleanup.

I have no idea what a note giver is.

And, the executive producers that fill up the credits are usually the prime time writers who get nominated for Emmy's and every other award plus get residuals by being a producer, which artists like concept designers and storyboard revisionists will never see. Ever.

I have been working with some extremely hard working artists half my age over the last 3 years and they scare the crap out of me because they are so good.

As far as the crazy titles, I agree with you. But, people are climbing all over each other to get jobs nowadays. There isn't much lazy out there.

JohnK said...

"Concept artist" doesn't sound like a full time job to me. Nor does it sound like anything someone should be doing who just graduated. -but it's in almost everyone's job description now - as is "character designer".

As someone in the comments already noted, most studios never have any intention of actually using the ideas generated by concept artists in a production. They just do it because Walt did it (who also rarely used it). Then they go back to doing the same formula stuff they have been doing for decades.

I think it's done to fill up the "Art Of..." books that studios publish which pretend that the studios have a higher artistic goal than what they actually produce.

But then, most of the concept art is just copied from "Toot Whistle Plunk 'N' Boom", "Mars and Beyond" and a handful of other traditional animation development styles.

cwyatt said...

Oh boy...an argument!

I sure do love those concept art books that are put out after every film. And yes, UPA is great reference. There are some gorgeous titles sequences too.

Nothing in entertainment is full time work. There is never an end to the constant hitting the pavement and competing for work. Your job ends when the show/film ends. But it's still a job.
I'm a mom and what I do isn't considered a real job, and it's full time forever.

Can I get paid for that?

JohnK said...

A Mom is as real as a job gets. Much more tangible than the job descriptions in the post.

cwyatt said...

Detrimental on a resume though.

Thanks

flashfox said...

Its so true. They are mostly no more than glorified middlemen with a sense of entitlement. Their best skill is in bullsh*t and for that they expect higher salaries with hardly any contribution to society while cutting salaries for the skilled people that ultimately are responsible for producing the very things that assure them a paycheck.


*sigh* Our society is screwed.

Adam Gunn said...

Yep.

We should go back to an apprentice system.
That's how Painters use to do it - they took on apprentices who paid tuition to work for the artist and learn all about what a painter does and how to do it and how to make a living at it.

In general people should have to work there way from the bottom in any Industry so they know everything about it if they become managers.

Isaac said...

You're not wrong, but it's hard to argue with success, and a lot of these big, padded-out companies are successful. Like someone said in the comments, there's a lot of dead weight, but some employers are smart enough to get rid of it.

smackmonkey said...

DaekRoar said: "...people are stressful; when I worked alone I didn't have that problem."

Too Funny!

There are so many great comments here but they unfortunately reveal far to c|early the bleak landscape that is today's animation Industry (and the workplace in general). Unless things change dramatically I don't intend to ever work in the field again. Seriously. Maybe if things revert back to the small studio system I started in but that seems unlikely. Famous last words, I know.

As to Linkedin...
I've been asked to join a dozen times but when I realized that, if the artist wanting me to join was actually working in the first place, I'd probably get some work anyway so why bother.

jeffreyJack said...

Last week i went down to LA for Xmas. I took my kids for a random drive and we happened on Hyperion Avenue. I said "Hey, Walt Disney's old studio was around here. Lets find it". So we did.

I looked it up on my phone and we tracked it down and sitting there was Gershon's Supermarket and a large parking lot.

I closed my eyes and pictured the neighborhood in the 1930's. Animators hitting the local bar after work. Their weary faces, exhausted, fingers cramped from their daily output.

I thought about Disney, his mental energy and persuasive manner. The first Mickey cartoons. Snow White. A job creator. A dynamo. A regular guy.

Times are different- but humans are the same. No one in their 20's should be looking for someone to give them a job for the rest of their life.

Walt is a good example of the "do what you love" axiom. Real jobs are the ones that require you to be there and then go home and still be the same person. Or create your own job and bring others into the good thing you've made.

I believe this is as possible today as it ever was. You just have to choose right.

Leus said...

I'm a software developer. That is as abstract a job can be but still has some value.

However, I've been training myself as an artisan and jack of all trades for years now. When the system go down, I'll fit in the anarchist society quite well :-)

Morgue Anne said...

Wow, I make a similar comment almost everyday...i don't know what else to do besides shake my head at the lunacy...

Jorge Garrido said...

This might be your best post yet.

LinkedIN STINKS. It's a terrible site.

As for that matter, all social media is pretty much worthless except for maybe making things go viral, like a video, which is pretty frivolous.

The worst part of your video, John, is that I understood every single word of that business-ese from 5 years of business school. It's counterfeit language, used to mask meaning.

Business people love to say as little as possible in as many words as possible.

-Jorge Garrido

Nicolás Rivera said...

As an architecture student and self-taught artist, I'm completely touched by this post and the discussion it's unfolding in the comments. This is a very interesting topic that goes way beyond the cartoons and animation area, but it sure affects it particularly, and I'm grateful you addressed it.

Laylassong said...

I love the I rob seven elevens job, that was funny john! Is fluffer a real job?

Scott Cardona said...

I hope to be a "Note Giver" One day

Anyway all this talk about making stuff by hand

Im gonna go animate some bad ass shit

bergsten said...

The purpose of LinkedIn, in case anyone was in doubt, is SOLELY to give recruiters ("headhunters") a way to match job openings with people with (allegedly) appropriate skills (and thereby make a commission -- yet another form of "middlemen").

That's it. It's the equivalent of Zillow or the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in real estate.

bergsten said...

Many years ago, before ALL of you were born, an author (who shall go unnamed because the mere mention of her name causes any subsequent discussion to spiral down into religious and political arguments) wrote a novel which has very likely been misinterpreted by virtually everyone who has read it.

Except me, of course.

What it was really about was what would happen to the world if everyone who actually produced things just stopped. Or even better, moved away into their own communities and left the rest to go to hell.

Douglas Adams may well have stolen the idea for his "A, B, and C arks."

Wouldn't this be great fun if it actually happened? I, for one, am ready. Just email me the address and I'm off.

Isaak said...

One word.

Plastics

Also, what do you think of scenes in 90s Disney films that focus on the backdrops? They seem better drawn than the characters.

She-Thing said...

I agree with Will Finn. You should organize someday an artists reunion called something like "John's Coffee Chat (no WiFi or technology allowed)" and just chat and chat. What a big topic this is-- when you say


"Imagine how much more efficient and cost effective the world would be if people still made things and we eliminated all the experts and managers and consultants with vague job descriptions that stop things from getting made by people who actually know how to make them"

Many consultants--->make you doubt---->put you in a very specific and pointless condition---->have no idea of what you are doing even if it's correct

Specific job--means that--->you can work overseas/just round the corner without moving from your pc --meaning that---> you have more time to stay by the computer--meaning that--->you can consume more and more time "working" and staying in front of the screen consuming more and more pointless information.


Constantly I'm like "ZOMG, a Wally Wood blog" "ZOMG have you seen that Ernest Hemingway blog?" Weelll you have no idea of what I've seen about OScar Wilde while I was working" "You're an as,s haven't you read my Wilde post on Facebook?" "No, because I was busy reading about Wally Wood". There's quite a difference with reading a book and reading pointless information on the internet. When you read a book, you stop, you close it, and you analyze it. In a web you're reading an opinion of a person on Wilde but have no idea of who this guy is, what does he know, and where he comes from. What's worse, you concentrate more on that wandering and wasting your time in seeing HOW you're going to reply to that asshole who criticizes Wilde----
instead of saying to yourself, "this guy is an asshole", close the book, and bring it back to the library and just read another book.

And because we have ambiguous factual information we doubt if that person is wrong or is right and as a response to that, to us students who go back to school, create a conclusion by just paying attention to absolutely ALL the teacher is saying even if it's very basic or crap, because it's the only reliable source the student who is learning that he/she can take from. The student does not know what is convenient and what is not because of all the pointless information and ambiguety that has been consuimng all the time.
Obviously this is me also posting my two cents-- and if I'm overboard tell me, but that's more or less what I think it's happening to why there are ridiculous specific jobs (or at least, it's ONE of the reasons)


Even so, I'm more than glad that I don't have to pay a ticket from Spain to the USA to know what you think about the system, John. That's one of the things I mostly apreciate from the internet, because I can also see what you're saying on other people's opinions.

There has to be a way were it can be applied to the system the use of the computer as a tool, not as "something much more addictive than Coke, cigarettes and alcohol together"

stefiecakes said...

I used to work painting backgrounds for an animated full-movie production. The project died violently 'cause we had a little too many "managers" & very, very few hands-on, experimented people.

Where I live, "animation" studios don't even know the difference between animation and motion graphics!

JesseCuster5168 said...

Concept art's a legitimate position... the Lord of the Rings movies had a group of artists that designed how the world looked before they created the costumes and makeup and sets and shit. Everything else you said is right, and I'm unsure that concept art has much of a use in animation as opposed to other things, but still.

∞ Amy ∞ said...

Ha! Until I got to the part where you wrote "...'I design toys'...", I was just thinking, "Jeez. I design toys."

:)

Mitch Leeuwe said...

John, you should make a cartoon show for internet, phone's, tablets! And start an own mega corporation.

Roberto Severino said...

This is very depressing to read. I want to see some more happy cartoon drawings, but sadly, this is the harsh reality of our profession. Right on, John!

Viktor said...

As a young art student, I've thought a lot about getting into the video game-industry as an artist/ concept designer, as games and art are two of my greatest passions. Guess I'll reconsider, though...

zombieyeti said...

SEO marketing was created for the sole purpose of people wanting to take capitalize on peoples ignorance*, by people who want to feel superior to others ;)

*Ignorant people assumed to be people with better things to do than pour over the internet wasteland...

Frank said...

I'm working a made-up job, meaning I quit mine and started an indie game company with a friend over 2 years ago.

We've had rough financial times, but on the whole, it was the best move I've ever made.

Only a simple doubt haunts my mind when I realize I'm not putting anything on the side for my old days.

But the present is pretty awesome.

Raff said...

I manage large-scale conversational marketing campaigns that bring together brands, content, and audiences.

Whew! Allow me to translate:

I have grown to become a leader of men because my innate hunger for power and wealth has been the sole guide of my life decisions from the beginning. People give me what I demand because I have learned to disguise the truth without flinching and gain trust whether or not I deserve it. I can gamble without doubt. I can wreck havoc without remorse, only to build it all up again at someone else's expense. Woe to those who follow their guilt and wish to live humbly and please others, for they will serve me in the false hope that they will one day take my place. THIS SHALL NOT PASS. Their lot is not the women nor the gold nor the land, for lo, they have not the balls.

Let's see that on Linkedin.

David Nethery said...

This is a great observation , John. Ditto for me with Linked In, etc. -- no job offers have come from it . All my jobs have come through trusted colleagues who already know me and know my work.

Martin Juneau said...

Canada's in the East Coast (Where i live) have for months a drastic problem over the too overuse of English, as a nation when French is the primary language. It distract me when peoples who have not many knowledges of others languages than their main one goes on the Net and use random englishs words without actually knows if it's made sense. As a frenchmen like me, i learn more english by watch TV shows and chatting than i learned in class, but it's not enough to say when they force you to be talking in english (Like in Moron-treal City), it don't make happy when everyone does the same as i did by years of trainings and knowledges. You have to be familiar for years with this peoples if you want to be understanded by english peoples. And for years, we're doom to the multiculturalism. Why you think our own artists goes to the foreigns countries in show, than go back and say "F*** you" to the peoples they live in?

Back to the subject, the same happen to us. Our factories which was our source of hiring employees, producing local products and raise wags is sold to China and no one except the ex-employees denies to protest it.

Carmine said...

Well, I wish animation would actually be done in America again, then maybe there would be jobs.

My pov is that "young artists" or recent college graduates, looking for work in animation, have really stiff competition. A lot of people have personal problems at that period of life, aren't at the top of their game, or just plain don't have their shi% together, but still need a chance or a job to focus what skill they do have.

It seems only the most talented, or the people with their shi% together most, get the few jobs available. It seems easy to fall into a cycle of feeling "not good enough", and squandering any talent you do have. If all the animation jobs were still in this country there would be SO many jobs available at many different levels, and those of us who aren't starting out perfect, can actually have a chance to grow and focus. I don't know, maybe I'm just a little bitter...

smackmonkey said...

Raff said: "I have grown to become a leader of men because my innate hunger for power and wealth has been the sole guide of my life... they will serve me in the false hope that they will one day take my place. THIS SHALL NOT PASS. Their lot is not the women nor the gold nor the land, for lo, they have not the balls."

The Credo of the Mahogany Desk. Thanks for the translation.

Most of this ilk I have known are lesser men with Napoleonic complexes - or worse. These are the type of men who cower and whine and become supplicant to the least among their brethren when deprived of the trappings of elevated office. All the while they scheme and are desirous of dominion over others. Go fig.

ickybones said...

Thanks for the good read John. Very simple and makes me think.

Thiago Levy said...

I agree with Elana Pritchard. We just have to make the cartoons anyways. I was making cartoons for a company that went out o business here in Miami. There was so many o producers and managers the business went down. Now I work at a health food store as a manager, I get to work a ton! The freelance I get is shit, people have no idea of how much work it takes to make an animation. I spent countless months trying to get a job in animation, I tried everything from linkedin to smoke signals. I never got anything. Not even a "thank you" letter. It seems that there is no "REAL" animation jobs anywhere. I even applied to bullshit jobs with bullshit job descriptions. they ask for one million years of experience in feature and TV to get any job. I even tried free internship just so I could get in, but I would have to be in school for that.

That's why I decide to go independent. I make enough money to eat, shower,Jiu-jitsu and make my cartoons. That's all it matters! By the way, if by any chance, you come to Miami, stop by and have some juice made by my working hands! On the house!

http://www.appleadaymiami.com

SoleilSmile said...

It seems that industrialized countries are moving towards a management job market and all the labor is being shipped to the developing world. It's a really sad and unfortunate side effect of globalization.

Oh, and don't get me started on job descriptions. You have to have an MBA just to figure out what they mean.

TheZealot said...

So the production gets big, they hire all this middle management, middle management is accustomed to big money, production prices go up... and middle management ships it overseas. WHAT? Is this the scenario of how it happened??
Yeeeeaaahhhh - you're right Johnny K. Small productions is where its at. I draw my hat tipped to you.

kurtwil said...

Within the last 15 years, many USA "businesses" has moved from manufacturing products to manipulating information. The latter often takes multiple "skills" so it's a little harder to define an exact employment description. One can identify all the __jobs__ contained within an employment situation, though

At WETA tasks might be so specialized that a "Gollum Belly Button Jiggler" does exist. Working at a tiny studio may involve drawing, building computer paint equipment, running camera and FOROX stand, yard maintenance, hauling dead animals out from under the studio.

Also, the size of the company you work for often determines how many jobs/hats you get involved with and how durable employment is.

My most durable jobs were with the smaller start-ups as I could do other tasks when the main task stalled (the Aussie outfit I worked for had to stop animation due to quota limits, I helped support their advertising and system maintenance until production went back on line.

Also, the "lower" a job position is, the more specialized it is.
There are exceptions: Frank Zappa, though wanting artists that could play his difficult music, would often give artists multiple roles (Roy Estrada playing bass as well as acting as a Pope, etc.).

Actually JK, this suggests: should animation professionals be multi-talented, specialists, or a mixture of both? Perhaps the surplus of animators clouds all that?

Carmine said...

John, sir, a question for you...If Spumco were to start up again, or any American animation studio, how possible or impossible would it be for them to do ALL the animation in-house? Inbetweens and everything. Is it just a matter of budget and having to compete w/ people shipping stuff overseas? Is it that Americans can't do as good a job? What's stopping it from happening, from changing the current business model??

Does anyone know the studios who do their stuff all in-house? Disney and Pixar, I assume. Does Dreamworks and Fox??

Doctor Jones said...

I'm working in social media at the moment and I pump out flash designed "assets" for online social games.

The year before, I was working from home.
Though it didn't pay out as well as being at a studio, it was great being able to work from a home office...at your own pace without someone constantly looking over your back to make sure you're up to your ears in deadlines...it was honestly great and my health flourished.

What I'd like to know, is how come studios can't find a way to keep freelancers happy? There are some very available and talented artists willing to take on some work if these companies can find a way to --1... let them work from home ---2...utilize skype for telecommunications..and---3... Recognize that the more comfortable artists are, the better quality the work will be.

I think the answer lies in companies changing the way they do things instead of relying on trapping artists in the creative stranglehold of yesterday.

Though I'm lucky at the moment, I don't really feel inspired by how studios have proven to treat employees and artists. Free overtime is bullshit and it sucks that some of these places get away with breaking work standards. It's amazing what artists are actually working for when the overtime is thrown into the equation.

Slobiker (Craig Prior) said...

By any chance is this you? http://www.linkedin.com/pub/big-john-k/7/523/a56

Shawn Dickinson said...

I love it when John posts a rant on a subject, and there's always someone who thinks they're the most original person to ever respond with the "Get off my lawn" comment.

HemlockMan said...

Linked In is a worthless site. I joined it years ago because some of my pals wouldn't leave me alone about it. I have a regular laborer's job with the Federal Government, plus I sell short stories and novels. So I wasn't looking for a job. I reckon my pals just needed some more "links" to make them look good. Linked In is stupid and I don't know anyone who has gotten work there unless the job description was "Spread, lick, and suck".

Niki said...

Wow. I just finished my job resume, and the book that I read from said to make sure I present quantitative data on what
I did.

I've been studying animation drawing for 3 years, adobe illustrator for about 3 months. but most of my stuff was traditional hand drawn art and the like. I'm not gonna get a job from that! I need to make my resume more fantasical like these corporate fairies!!

تجار الدوحه said...

مدونه اكثر من رائعه
سبحان الله وبحمده سبحان الله العظيم
http://www.tjaraldoha.com/vb

Ryan G. said...

Im a "General Specialist"

Todd Lauzon said...

Wow...thats the best damn thing I've read in a while! Thanks!

ther1 said...

I'm in college and they're actually teaching me these buzzwords for my job. They still make very little sense.
Learning them by rote has so far proven less effective than simply reading Dilbert strips, looking at the joke definitions of the corporate phrases, and applying them. I'm serious, it's been more useful than the textbook. That says more about the kind of nonsense you're criticizing than the value of Dilbert itself.

kurtwil said...

Carmine asked a good question: Given that software can handle the most labor intensive/boring parts of classic animation, why is it so hard to set up a small production facility in the USA and make shows for Adult Swim, etc.?
Does the current instability of the business defy this? Or are overseas animators __that__ much better than domestic ones?

It's certainly possible to crowd a bunch of contractors (__temps!!!__) together into a room with computers, and organize them to make something (that's how most FX get done these days).

David Marcum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jorge! said...

John, I like to think I have a real job. I like to work in what I call Tangible Assets, all my work can be used, seen or interacted with. I am a front end web developer (I code most of what is seen on websites) But I also have to use some design sense, layout and composition skills, typography Etc. and all this goes to clients who are expecting shit that looks good and works/meets a purpose. I have always been amazed by people who are okay with making money with only conceptual skills like concept art, or creative directing or the super-vague "design". Designer of what?!

David Marcum said...

@Kurtwil
I'd say, If you let software handle the most labor intensive, you will get boring parts not classic animation!

Yep, that's what I would say.

Didierdrogba said...

Hi

I read this post 2 times. It is very useful.

Pls try to keep posting.

Let me show other source that may be good for community.

Source: Brand Strategist job description

Best regards
Jonathan.

Evham said...

I second Carmine's question. That's essentially what I'm curious about. How expensive/ feasible would it be to keep everything here in the states and make a small studio?

kurtwil said...

Software definitely helps with ink, paint, camera.

Software will produce whatever the artist tells it to. Use it in a limited, quick-kill cutout schlock mode like most FLASH artists do, and yup, you'll get that boring stuff flooding Cartoon Channel and other networks.

However, as JK and other leaders do with __their__ software, use it to assist (not __replace__)your drawing and animation, and you'll get nice results.

Milio said...

Working for live...

Paul Dini said...

Great post, John. Have you seen this site yet?

http://www.disneymeetings.com/

Rather than create jobs for US-produced 2D animation, Disney is selling their services in selling, um, meetings, I guess. Who needs cartoons when you can deal in products like "Team Building," "Brand Loyalty" and "Leadership Excellence?"

Thiago Levy said...

There is absolutely no reason to outsource cartoons. Cost is irrelevant. Realistically how much more expensive are we? The greedy corporate brains fails to understand how quality will make up for that cost difference. Every step in making a cartoon is a potential creative process and the animation step is the most important of all. It is where the acting takes place, and acting is what connects the audience to the characters. Hiring Tom Hanks won't save your shitty animation! What you see now is a snapping pose to pose with stock expressions and visuals that don't match the audio (acting). The solution that this assholes came up to mend the lack of visual gags and pretty much visual everything, was to hire a bunch of soap opera writers to write cartoons. Compare the new "Looneytoons" show with the originals. All they do is talk! I don't need cartoon characters to talk! Real people can talk, so why even bother with animating here or in Indonesia or anywhere. If all they do is talk. Family guy could be a radio show! Try just listen to the audio, its better than watching, and you can draw some real animation at the same time. The reality is the nobody is actually making cartoons anymore. There are attempts to cartoons, made by soap opera writers Cartoonist make cartoons.

If I offend any of you soup opera cartoon writers... good.

paul said...

Well John, are you thinking what I'm thinking? I think we should contact the Animator's Union and have them follow my agenda:

(1 Get cartoon networks and their in-house studios to disband runaway productions.

(2 make the television studios downsize their buisnesses so we could make room for the latest paperless animation technology like Toon Boom Harmony. The studios should be small like in the classic age(1930-1969).

I'll tell you about that later.

Trevor Guitar said...

Jobs are really hard to come by, 'concept artist' means, commission and then back out in the cold these days, unless you are ultra famous you would probably struggle to find constant work.

I don't know what to say.

Trevor Guitar said...

Jobs are really hard to come by, 'concept artist' means, commission and then back out in the cold these days, unless you are ultra famous you would probably struggle to find constant work.

I don't know what to say.

ca60gregory said...

I don't know if its true that nobody wants to do anything real anymore, I think the choice has been largely taken away. The west itself produces almost nothing, all the good solid middle class jobs of the past, animation or otherwise has been outsourced to extremely cheap labour and outright slaves overseas, Speaking for myself, I can not compete with someone who is able to work for $2 or less a week, not with living expenses the way they are.

kurtwil said...

David M, software's a tool. There are tons of "real jobs" based on writing software too.
Trick's to use the tool/job, not let the tool/job "use" you.

Chris Turnbull said...

I guess the reason this happens is simply because for so many years the actual jobs have moved abroad. Therefore meaning that students have to focus on concept art and such as it seems to be the only domestic work available. That and of course the fact that "work language" has changed, so now instead of saying what you can do, you're supposed to talk about your deep passion and love for what you do, all wrapped up in buzz words and abstract phrases.

daniel said...

@evham
i think that sending animation overseas must be the equivalent to manufacturing any product in china.
if there´s anyone who knows roughly how much is it to make animation (lets say a 15 minute episode)in an average korean animation studio.
im pretty sure that amount is gong to explain your question.

daniel said...

@evham
i think that sending animation overseas must be the equivalent to manufacturing any product in china.
if there´s anyone who knows roughly how much is it to make animation (lets say a 15 minute episode)in an average korean animation studio.
im pretty sure that amount is gong to explain your question.

daniel said...

@evham
i think that sending animation overseas must be the equivalent to manufacturing any product in china.
if there´s anyone who knows roughly how much is it to make animation (lets say a 15 minute episode)in an average korean animation studio.
im pretty sure that amount is gong to explain your question.

Alex Printz said...

you *can* negate some of the extra work with computers, but you should never trade opportunity for creativity in place of automation, especially just to save a few bucks (unless you have no other choice).

I think Bakshi said it best at Comic-con when he talked about a computer being the storyboard, animation station, recording studio, ink & paint, color processing, camera and final editing station in a box. (Not to mention all of the communication opportunities to connect animators together, and the ability to make virtual studios that can combine work together from people thousands of miles away.)

But no where in that statement was a computer mentioned as a replacement for hard work. It's simply a tool that can shortcut some of the more menial things.

With all of the information and resources we have, we have every opportunity to go so far above and beyond what was happening in the 1940's and truly create something amazing.

It's kinda disgusting when you think of how much we have to work with, and how most of us don't use it to anywhere near capacity.

I'm guilty of it, but I'm passionately trying to turn that around.

Austin said...

I'm part of a computer science program and it's interesting to see that some of our applicants are actually denied because of this over-complication. They get a letter pretty much saying "So what exactly can you do?" and we hire the person who clearly listed "I can program in C++, Java, and C#"

Now that everyone is complicating their descriptions in an effort to stand out, it is the simple applicants that actually stand out and get jobs.

On another note, I emailed you at an old AOL email of yours but I'm not sure if it's still current. If it's not could you email me at aheerwagen@smu.edu

Thanks!

David Reddick said...

YES. Thank you for putting this into words and for expressing my own thoughts far more accurately than I could have!

scabfarm said...

In case you have a need for "advanced entity management", I've got the right company for you!

http://www.rasi.com/

=)

Andrew said...

hey john im a 17 year old guy from california whos trying to learn how to daw cartoons (im already kinda decent at drawing) and i love your artwork any tips or advice on getting started? please reply your pal, Andrew

James N. said...

I'd say, If you let software handle the most labor intensive, you will get boring parts not classic animation!

But, given the current state of the TV animation industry, is using the software to speed things up really any worse then sending the more labor intensive jobs to Korea or India and having it come back looking boring and mechanical anyway?

If the software speeding things up creates more jobs here in North America, I'm all for it.

Trevor Guitar said...

John you would probably like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=depxWQ-okWM

"The most famous recording of this song for baby-boomers featured Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm on The Flintstones "No Biz Like Show Biz" episode (which originally aired September 17, 1965".-Wiki

smackmonkey said...

James N said - "If the software speeding things up creates more jobs here in North America, I'm all for it."

This has been tried on a few flash-based shows (Foster's comes to mind). The Americans were so happy to be competitive once again but the fact was that the overseas studio in Ireland used the same software and did it for less. Once the Chinese and E. Indians have computers it's all over.

Even if you could compete you'll still have to convince the network to air your stuff. They have their own studios, you know. Now if people would pay to watch online...

Raf said...

The problem is laziness. It doesn't take 100 people to do a job that can be done with 10. I am a designer and since a few years ago will not take anymore jobs where I have to work with a marketing director. That is a B.S. job that's mostly taken by women who speak all the creative jargon but have none. They will have you do work and then take credit for somehow managing what you do, and get paid twice as much as you do. These jobs exist in every profession. From the NY Yankees to the military. I guess the more modern title is social media specialist... what is that? How hard is it to use facebook and twitter? They didn't create it, they just manage your accounts. I'm sort of glad these B.S. jobs are disappearing. It will balance the field and those who actually have some talent and can create something are the ones who will survive. If all you can do is manage people, good luck. Try managing the unemployment line.

Maximum Awesome said...

Nailed it, John.

I suppose the other side of the coin is that "content" - genuine, heartfelt statements, humour, etc - tends to migrate to free, shallow, snacky sites like reddit: full meals of sincerely prepared artistic creation aren't really fundable in our current world.

Everything people actually "do" happens under the radar of our so-called economy, while we spend our days "earning" our continued first-world existence by coming up with new names to call the products shipped in from overseas.

Lamont Cranston said...

You're talking about Workers Self Management there John, a dangerous idea in this capitalist country.

Lamont Cranston said...

You're talking about Workers Self Management there John, a dangerous unpatriotic notion in this here proudly capitalistic nation!

Lamont Cranston said...

You're talking about Workers Self Management there John, a dangerous idea in this capitalist country.

stiff said...

The goal isn't to do things effectively, it's to stay busy enough to get paid enough to consume enough to keep other people busy enough to get paid enough to consume enough to....

3-D said...

Back in the 1990s (you know, back when I was a young teenager and you were warping my brain), a bunch of morons in DC came up with this horrendous idea: what if America could become the world's "idea guy"? You know, that asshole that never actually DOES anything but walks around trying to sell his ideas to people that can actually do things? Yeah, the idea was to make this entire country in to one big idea guy.

Fast forward to today, and the idea of being the idea guy is (much like the case of most individual idea guys) not working. See the whole problem is that being the idea guy only works if everybody respects that your ideas are yours. Here's the problem: they aren't. The internet has made that very clear. Don't understand what I mean? Let's go back to Econ 101.

Let's say you're trying to price something, so you build a supply vs. demand curve. That curve will determine what price you can get. As supply drops or demand rises, price rises. As supply increases or demand drops, price drops. With the advent of the internet, the supply of information (which is anything that can be trademarked, patented, or copyrighted) became effectively infinite. That makes the price effectively nil.

Now, you can try all kinds of technical locks (DRM) to create artificial shortage in supply again, but those ultimately fail leaving you back where you started. So at this point, you attempt to legislate making it illegal to break those locks. It doesn't work very well in your own country (enforcement is damn near impossible), and fails miserably outside your country. The world suddenly doesn't need the idea guy if they can just take his ideas for free.

Couple that with the idea guy paying to build a bunch of factories to build stuff outside his own borders, and not building within his own borders, and suddenly you have an economy based on nothing. Like literally nothing. That's the point we're at.

So yeah, the corporate structure (with all the vague stupid description people give of what they do) is a big ridiculous pantomime allowing Americans to pretend they're important, but it's a symptom covering up the real problem. That problem is that at a public and private policy level, we've made being the world's idea guy our only priority. We've put all our eggs in one very fragile basket, and now that it's broken we're trying to pretend we can just put the eggs back together.

Not. Gonna. Happen.

The Aardvark said...

Those resumes read like a Stan Freberg advertising spoof.

The Aardvark said...

"This conversation makes me want to go into every boardroom in America and DDT everyone present."

Brick Layer, DDT is wayyyy too benign. Get some Parathion. It'll give 'em the twitches but GOOD!

Crimson said...

Amen to all that.

Doctor Noe said...

The diagnosis of LinkedIn ... spot on. I never ever got any work from it. Only spam from recruiters.

As Woody Guthrie said, "Give me a job of work to do." He also said, "If you aint got the dough re me boys, you better go back to beautiful Kansas Oklahoma Nebraska Tennessee." He said that about California.

Lillith::Raeyn::Etc said...

I am minded of Douglas Adams, and the ship that was sent from a 'dying' planet to colonize Earth. That ship was, of course, full of telephone cleaners, salespeople - all the detritus of an overbusy, underproducing society. Not that we can ship our people off to another planet (as I don't think it's really the peoples' fault), but we could and should re-evaluate modern society into one where people have value, and actually value what their efforts purchase...

RobNonStop said...

John, thanks for the entertaining post.

What would be your minimum quality staff for a complete TV show production? I mean just the show, not the social media, which would probably outnumber the main staff. For example, do 2 background painters work better or worse than the double of a single painter because they cooperate or stand in each others way?

Thanks a lot! Mike Daisey says corporations are destined to become evil by their very nature, I tend to agree more and more.