This is an important section about recognizing and marketing the fact that you have a unique gift. Knowing how to define what separates you from everyone else is going to be the key to your success. First I must digress for the purposes of example: When I attended art school, I was studying transportation design. The class that I was in was really small, like fewer than 40 students, as compared to some universities with hundreds.
Our teachers were the best in the business and the atmosphere was incredibly competitive, with every student pulling all-nighters as the norm and with up to seven drawing and design classes, you were lucky to average five hours of sleep a night. This kind of non-stop pace would go on for about three years. The teachers were incredibly demanding and didn’t like slackers, so if you slacked, you’d get an earful, like, “What is this!…
Mr. Kater, do you really expect that with this kind of boring design direction that anyone in the world would ever buy it? Maybe you should reconsider your career!” I would just sit there with beads of sweat running down my face thinking, “I’m a loser… I’m done for… My dream is over.” My teacher would say, “Come on!!! I know you can do better, give me something different, unique.” I can thank him for the most severe tonguelashing of a lifetime and the most life-altering moment in my career because he drove home the reality that being who I am makes me unique. My experiences, my thoughts, my ideas… if I could just tap into that uniqueness and exploit it, I would be good.
The lesson here is that even though I may be working on an idea that’s been seen before, like a cartoon, sports car, or character, it has my own unique twist and execution. I analyze my work against others and look for the unique qualities that separate my work from theirs. I take a mental note and keep going. Don’t settle for the normpush your work to the extreme, even if it’s way radical, because you can always pull it back later.
Believe me, a client would rather see one way far-out idea than a hundred mediocre ones. On a similar note, I know people who savor every idea as if it were their last and hold onto it forever, hoping nobody finds out. As this applies to your career, you’re supposed to offer up your unique ideas that’s what gives your work monetary value. In fact, you can define your career by the unique ideas you bring to each project because people will pay for them.
If you’re running out of ideas, then maybe this isn’t the career for you. Put your ideas out there, learn from your mistakes, and don’t look back. The fact is, the animation and visual effects industry thrives on unique ideas that can be marketed, so become the market trend. Bottom line, every company is pushing to be the best and most unique, so it’s this quality of uniqueness that will make you a great hire. Knowing your worth in this industry is determined by the amount of money you can make for a company based on your ideas. So for the sake of career, don’t hold back, know what you’re good at, and apply it to everything you create.