Or is it your job performance?
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I recently snuck away for a little fly fishing in North Carolina with a couple of friends who happen to be illustrators, very respectable ones I might add. One is a personal friend I have known for many years and although we have different professional backgrounds, we inevitably talk about business. The art industry is a highly competitive field, probably because colleges have been churning out a glut of artists, illustrators, and graphic designers over the years. Compounding the problem is the computer which greatly leverages the ability of even the most mediocre talent. Frankly though, companies do not care whether a piece of artwork was created by hand or with computer assistance. They just want a graphic which will enhance an article, a magazine, a book, or whatever. This means the graphics business is not just competitive, but fiercely so.
Within the art world, there is a multitude of awards for excellence at the local, regional, and national levels, even some international awards. All are considered prestigious to a certain degree, some more than others, and artists and illustrators regularly enter their work in hopes of gaining some recognition. In particular, young people crave such awards in the hopes it will boost their career and look good on a resume. As my illustrator friends were quick to point out, such awards may be useful for stroking one's ego, but they certainly do not put food on the table. Consequently, it is not uncommon for winners of such awards to bypass award presentations as they are more focused on their next job.
You typically find more awards in the arts as opposed to the sciences, even though they have their fair share as well. Instead, sciences rely more on certifications denoting a person is properly skilled to perform a certain task. Whereas, awards stroke the ego, certificates offer prima facie evidence of your qualifications. It means you have passed certain tests of workmanship.
As my friends correctly pointed out, your job performance is more important than any award you can win. The applause of your customers is much more important than winning the esteem of your critics and contemporaries. Satisfied customers represent repetitive business and a more consistent cash flow. They also make better references than any award.
If you find yourself being squeezed between working on a billable job and winning an award, don't think twice about it, take the money and run. Your work is much more important than any award.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a freelance writer and mangement consultant in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
For Tim’s columns, see: timbryce.com
Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
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