Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reinventing to thrive

These days, there's no such thing as a copywriter or an art director. Meaning someone who writes words or does layouts. No, what companies want is someone who can write copy, design and maintain websites, do Search Engine Optimization and social website marketing, design and lay out print pieces, manage a department and its budget, create Excel spreadsheets, do client contact and balance an egg on the tip of the nose. Simultaneously.

The astounding thing is, the companies who advertise these positions probably can get some newborn Journalism or IT grad who can sort of do all of these things. Some young stud or studette with lotsa moxie who positively reeks of "can-do" attitude.

How can one person do all things well? Perhaps the question is, how well do these companies need all those things done? Perhaps not very.

But it's fruitless to sit on the porch rocking and spitting and cursing at shiny new grads who seek to be all things to all people. It's time to leap out of the rocker and into the world of the variously talented. Therefore, I have recently ordered InDesign CS4 and accompanying manual with the goal of becoming a writer who can design, or a designer who can write.

Actually, design is not totally new to me. I studied it at MU, and for years, I have designed and produced self-promotional postcards and brochures. (I also have bugged art directors by making "constructive" over-the-shoulder design or font suggestions which have been met with varying degrees of gratitude.) I have a decent sense of design, color and proportion, and hey, I can write, too. I currently use Quark 6.5, which has its limitations.With CS4 under my belt, I'll be more of a double threat. And if I ever learn Excel, though I hope it never comes to that, I'll be the triple threat so in demand.

So freelance remains in my future. And I hope it will be a more interesting, colorful and lucrative one with the addition of slick graphic and Web skills to my bag of marketable tricks.

I am inspired by Hunter S. Thompson, who famously said, "When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro." He also said, "Buy the ticket, take the ride." So okay, Dr. Duke, here I go. WHEEEEEEeeeeeee!

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