Saturday, December 3, 2011

Musings On A Hat Rack...

Sorry I haven't posted in a bit, a nasty cold has knocked me out for the last week or so.

So today's topic is that of hats. The metaphorical hats that we all have to wear that is. For some of us, the hats we wear are simple, and don't overly represent who we are and what we do (I suppose in a way that's a hat entirely unto itself), but for some of us, the hat we wear is tailored, fit, conditioned and sized in a very specific way to best exemplify who we are.

Case in point: I am a graphic designer. To me, that's less of the hat I wear and more of a general statement of my profession and interests. I like many aspects of graphic design, particularly corporate identity on one end and totally original design concepts and ideas on the other. I suppose to say that these are some of my hats.

Currently, I'm looking for work. I spent a number of years at a single company and became decent at print production, corporate identity and point of sale and marketing materials. While I was there, those were the hats I wore. I never really took off the other hats I mentioned before, but situationally those hats wore better. Now that I'm out and looking to fill roles again, I find that that specific hat I wore all those years is really good only in those situations. I find myself wondering now which and how many hats I should wear?

I'm wrapping up part time courses at Conestoga College for Digital Imaging, meaning now I've specifically training in more web related graphic design. I went out and bought this hat because I found when I was first looking, a lot of the trends required this. Makes sense. So now I'm a graphic designer with a lot of POP and marketing experience and some web experience.

But should it end there? I mean, the exact definition of a graphic designer is hard to nail down. I think it's someone who gets across a message or an idea in a graphical way. That's fairly broad! I don't consider myself a fine artist really, but can I honestly say that it's not also an aspect of graphic design? Do I need to go out and buy another hat...?

How many hats SHOULD one wear? Obviously, I'd want to keep myself at the highest marketability, so I'd want to dabble in a bit of everything, but the real world doesn't often look for dabblers. They want people with straight-up full experience in something. Is my new Digital Imaging hat "fashionable" enough to be employable? I remember a time not too long ago when you would hire someone to do your graphic design, and you would hire someone to manage your website. They would collaborate, naturally, but they were distinct people. Now with a struggling economy and trying to save money, it seems a company would like to have someone that can do both.

But is that fair? I accept that I am technically less employable than the designer who can do both, but does that mean that s/he is less employable than the designer that can video edit too? Or the person that writes copy in their spare time? I don't think my head is big enough to wear all these hats, but it seems like I need to squeeze them on just to stay relevant.

Maybe I'm a little biased because I haven't been able to find work. I know that I'm not perfect for every position, and that I just won't apply to the video editing or copy writer jobs out there because those aren't my hats. One has to admit though that it is a tricky job making sure that your hat, no matter how well you wear it, distinguishes itself out from all the other ones out there. Like the adage says, "nobody's good at everything, but everyone's good at something".

But I have to ask again: how many hats SHOULD one wear?

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. I can agree with the obvious downside of a company wanting to employ one very large hat, rather than a few small distinguished hats. But, in an economy where this is necessary, it seems the only choice is to have to most skills available to sell at one time. What if you wore one hat, the “designer” hat, but you tied many bows around your hat to make it fancier? A bow for graphics, a bow for web, a bow for video, etc. How attractive would you look when you show up to the profession party? Very. One can never have enough knowledge- it is the power that earns us respect, entitlement, pride and most importantly employment. It’s all about worth; the hat with more bows sells first.