THE FLUIDITY OF PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY
Before you ask: I didn't feel like this post was a good fit for Mindsplatter, since that zine is more focused on development-related adventures. If you're more interested in THAT type of content (and if you haven't already) then by all means:
Now then...let's get down to the biscuits:
AN ODD REALIZATION
A recent meeting with my boss has made it pretty clear that my unconventional career path has created different perceptions of me and my core skills among different colleague groups over time. Most colleagues and business contacts from the last 6 years see me as a software product designer and creative director for branded, interactive experiences, while most of my work contacts from the FIRST 6 years know me as an animator/production artist.
I think the part that always weirded me out was how some people who know me from one part of my career can't really wrap their heads around the other. Folks I know from my animation production days still think of me as an animator and people who know me from software development and creative agency leadership work can't imagine me grabbing a Cintiq pen and animating.
(Starburns Industries Kitchen Whiteboard - ANIMALS: Season 1 for HBO)
It makes some conversations awkward, but since I like making people uncomfortable I'm pretty much OK with that. Since this website is a representation of my current professional identity, I figured I'd set the record straight and share how I process things from my perspective.
(Binary Bubbles / PopBase @ Techcrunch Disrupt: Startup Battlefield 2018)
PART 1: hands-on
(Stoopid Buddy Stoodios - CAMP WWE: Season 1 for WWE NETWORKS)
This video, "Born to Be Dead", is a nostalgic piece for me. It was my undergrad project. The first animated short I wrote, designed (characters, BG, previz), animated, produced, edited (video and audio), and pooped out in time for graduation. It was silly, bizarre, and irreverent...but I still use every single skill I learned from its production to this day.
("Born to be Dead" - 2D Animation, Amit Tishler, 2008)
I come from a traditional film/animation background. It’s in my blood. I spent the first half of my career as an animator, writer, animation director, and production artist for both TV and games/software...and every once in a while, I'd get bored and do weird shit like this for shits and giggles:
("Continue?" - Pixelation / Live Action/ 2D Animation, Amit Tishler, 2009)
PART 2: what a twist!
The second half of my career dragged me into media tech and to be frank, being a game and product designer, was a more stable, and financially lucrative job. It gave me more time and bandwidth to go back to invest in my true passion: developing my own projects and selling original IP…and that paid off BIG TIME in the last few years.
(Creative Director Showreel - Interactive + Linear, Amit Tishler, 2021)
The ability to prioritize and pivot, the willingness to study new tools and processes, and apply my skills to different practices are all things that served me well. Instead of giving up my dream for some stability, I just used the stability to pursue my passions even harder and with "more ammo".
Don't worry, you'll know more about the results of THAT pursuit later this year.
PART 3: THE POINT...?
So why am I even saying all of this? Pfft...I dunno. Part of this was just a reaction to the realization that my two career identities confuse people who know me from different periods of my life...
...or maybe it's because there I see too many “creative leads” in the industry with no tangible skills and too many “animation directors” with no hands-on experience with animation production. Underqualified people in leadership positions make work more difficult for everyone else and set a lot of money on fire.
”Ideas” are a dime a dozen...but skills matter and experience matters. Take pride in them and value the actual work more than the snazzy titles, the big company names, and the fancy college degrees.
But also...don't get stuck. Never get too comfy. Learn new things, and be creative about how you adapt and apply knowledge. Try to be more curious about your colleagues and try and keep up with what they're doing. People change, adapt and take different paths throughout their careers to achieve their goals. Who knows, maybe you'll end up learning something that will save your stagnant career from a creeping decline.