Really good question @randy.
I don’t think very many of us got into our professions by majoring in Flame @ Uni… Crazy that there’s pretty much a YouTube video about damn near anything you might want to learn nowadays. It certainly challenges the value proposition of higher ed. I worry about the same thing with my young kids as well… I will say though, that the experience of responsibility and forming relationships away from under your parents’ roof is pretty formative. However, to think about how much college tuition has increased since I was in school is eye-watering. Can’t there be a cheaper “life-camp incubator” to transition our kids into adulthood?
There are many skillsets I’ve honed over the years that I’m proud of. All learnt through trial and success/failure. The most lasting learned through the latter. Communication skills, setting expectations, pitching projects / reading a room, having a good bedside manner, time management, choosing your battles, being kind, trying your best, making good work, etc… Still learning and working on them all, of course… Most importantly, I think pursuing what interests you at any given moment is key.
I had an existential crisis moment the year after undergrad, not having a specific “career” choice, but many interests. Music, Film, Animation, Graphic Design, Photography, Gaming, etc… How does that equate to being “x” when I “grow up”? My mom always asking when I’d get a “real job” with health insurance, etc… Once I went through the 5 stages of grief, I accepted the fact that it’s ok that I had many interests. As long as I was open to recognize and act on good opportunities that presented themselves, at some point something would come along that would combine those interests together. I’ve sadly seen talented people hold out on a myopic “dream job” only to miss opportunities that could have been stepping stones to those ends.
That all being said, I’m proud of what I do. Commercials are dope, infinitely varied in scope, and turn around quickly. The “value” of commercials from a 10,000 ft view is another topic alltogether. Though I think it’s a lot more interesting that our job is to make dreams a reality in an experiential space than having a more ordinary career. As flame artists, there isn’t and can’t be just one thing we’re good at, both from the people side of things as well as the artistic / technical side of things. Who knows, maybe being a Flame Artist is a stepping stone to something else down the line…
Realizing now that I pretty much penned a letter to “teenage me”.