It started as a hobby…

…CG, that is. Now, I’m a professional. I’ve been so for 15 years. After a while, though, it becomes a tedium. If you’re good at certain things, it’s quite easy to be scoped in to do those things over and over again because employers would rather employ you to maximise the benefits of your proficiency.

This itself isn’t half bad, if only bosses actually knew what you did.

As I began my career, ‘career advancement’ never entered my mind. That meant that I didn’t know I was coming into a career, nor did I expect my bosses to advance my career while being employed by them. I think this is because I was actively advancing on my own. I was learning new things, I was getting better at the things I already knew.

Now, there is a great dissatisfaction when that advancement stops. When it does, I question why the company doesn’t do more for me. Then I come to understand that even if I had been given a SIGGRAPH pass, or sent to NAB, or some artist convention in Europe, simply knowing more is not career advancement. Neither is a job title — I’m a “CG supervisor” — and neither is a pay raise.

I’ll tell you what it is.

There is a situation that doesn’t allow me to apply what I learned. To be compelled, by my situation, to allow things that go against my knowledge and common-sense tells me that my personal advancement only goes so far as my nose.

When there is no utility in learning or experience, ‘career advancement’ stops.

Let’s compare that with being able to take charge of a situation and come out on top. To apply what I know, to make ignorant mistakes, and by its very virtue to gain experience, that kind of ‘advancement’ is the kind of satisfaction that made me love the craft so much.

This other situation is not dissimilar: not to have the space to learn something new. I want to explore new ground, especially the world of interactivity (it combines my creative interests with the coding skills I’ve learned through the years), but there is no enthusiasm to explore this in the studio where I work. It is only interested in what it already does and continues to ply the same trade routes year in and year out.

When learning is limited to the scope of your established career, –a.k.a boredom — ‘career advancement’ stops.

What started out as a hobby became a profession. It was satisfying as long as you were improving, and learning new things. But 15 years down, it’s become more about evading egos and enduring the squabbles for the Almighty Dollar.

Then there are yearly reviews which tell you that if you only did this or that you’d be worth a lot more.

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