Here is Karen J Lloyd’s official definition of professionalism:
Show up. Do the work. Don’t be an ass.
Patent pending. 😉
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But I’ve seen people in animation school and on their first jobs (and beyond) violate one, two or even all three of these principals. It boggles the mind. When you get that first job, great. Now you have to keep the job.
Mind you, this could apply to any industry or job. I mean if you were an employer, wouldn’t this sum up what you’d expect at the very least out of an employee?
Let’s break it down, shall we?
When I was teaching, students would just saunter in 20, 30, or in the rare cases over 60 minutes late. No excuse. No guilt. Some would think because they ‘worked late’ the night before, it was justified. Well, it’s not. And let’s face it, some of them were probably playing video games all night.
The instructors are there for a reason. To lecture, give assignments and offer feedback on your work. If you’re not there, how can you get any valuable feedback? You should be getting as much as you can. That’s how you really learn.
And don’t think instructors don’t take mental notes. They do. I know I did.
It’s not about ‘attendance’ and getting booted out of the school either. To me, it was a reflection of their professionalism. If you can’t show up for a three hour class, will you show up for an eight hour work day? I saw way too many talented people blow it because they were just too lazy, too flaky or simply didn’t care enough to make it to class.
If you’re in school, treat it like a job.
Now lateness and sometimes not showing up at all, happens in the studios too. Some people come in late every morning, leave when they feel like it or don’t show up and don’t let anyone know where they are.
Unless you’re a freelance artist working on your own time frame, you shouldn’t do that.
Just because you work in animation, it doesn’t mean you have free reign to come and go as you please. This is a business like any other. How long do you think someone working in a bank would last if they did those things?
If you’re on a job, have the respect to inform someone that you might be late. When there’s a good reason for it. I know ‘stuff happens’ that might be out of your control now and then. That’s just reality. I’m talking about people who are late frequently, all the time or just don’t come in.
It really just boils down to arrogance. Knock it off and show up.
Hmm, this might be turning into a rant…
DO THE WORK
I saw other students over the years be the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave each day. But they spent most of their day chatting and wandering around. Everything else but the assignments.
Sorry, but you don’t get brownie points for showing up if the work isn’t being done.
I’ve seen new employees waste tons of the studio’s time. Playing video games. Watching YouTube. Chatting with friends. Posting stuff on Facebook. Sounds like a blast to have all that freedom in an animation studio, doesn’t it? Yes, many studios give their employees perks like access to games and such. You can work long hours and of course you can have a creative block. I get that. And it’s nice to blow off some steam now and then.
But maybe you wouldn’t have to pull multiple all-nighters if you cut down on those activities. Hey, I have my own share of procrastination…it’s an artist thing. But I work at home (better that nobody sees you procrastinate 🙂 ) and meet my deadlines. The work gets done and it’s solid.
In the end, that’s all they really want from you.
The studio is trying to meet a deadline. You were hired to help them do that. That’s what they’re paying you for.
Some people feel resentful of the studio and moan about how they’re not getting paid enough. Fine, maybe you aren’t. But that’s the money you agreed to when you signed the contract. No one forced you. And I’m sorry to say, they may not feel you’re as important as you think you are.
When you’re in the studio and you ‘do the work’, they take notice. If you freelance, meet those deadlines (and if you’re running a little late, tell them and don’t lie about it). That is how you get more work (and hopefully, more money). When you finish assignments on time in school, they take notice too. You’re building a reputation for being dependable.
And these days, it can really make you stand out from the crowd.
DON’T BE AN ASS
Oh, the stories.
The one who demanded their portfolio be seen right then and there at a studio when they just dropped in. The endless nasty emails when someone didn’t get an answer right away from the swamped Human Resources person. The one caught sleeping under their desk by the ‘big boss’. The one who drew curse words into a background and it was the client who discovered them (that one might be classified as ‘bad judgment’). The newbie caught using the director’s computer to check their personal email. The guy on his first job breaking his contract and leaving the studio (and his fellow artists) in the lurch.
I could go on and on.
It doesn’t matter how talented you are…no one wants to work with a jerk. Lesser talent and ‘great to work with’ will win out every time. Be cool.
Animation is a very small industry. Students talk to other students. Students talk to instructors. Instructors talk to other instructors. Instructors work in studios. They talk to other people working in studios. Workers in studios talk to other workers at other studios. Those workers talk to supervisors. Supervisors talk to other supervisors. They change studios. And talk to those supervisors. People date other people in the industry (we’re the only ones who understand each other!) and they talk….bla bla bla.
Getting the picture here?
Show up. Do the work. Don’t be an ass.
Then people will want to work with you again. That’s professionalism.
It’s really that simple.
If you want to see what I might rant about next, subscribe to the RSS feed or by email…and I’ll try not to disappoint.
UPDATE: Here are the other posts in this series.
Getting the J-O-B Part 1: Five Key Things You Need to Storyboard Professionally
The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on Training
Getting the J-O-B Part 2: Building a Storyboard Portfolio
The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on Portfolios
The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on Professionalism
Getting the J-O-B Part 4: Contacts in the Industry
The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on Contacts in the Industry
The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on Contacts in the Industry-Part 2: Unions and Film Commissions
Getting the J-O-B Part 5: The Right Attitude
The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on the Right Attitude