What is in a name?
Moreover, what’s in a title?
Society as a whole these days has developed name tags for every nook and cranny available. From companies as big as Apple to small ones like John Doe, Inc., everybody has to have an extra few words after their name to distinguish themselves from the guy in the cubicle next door.
Who sets the qualificiations for these titles? Who gets to say what qualifies as a Graphic Designer vs a Graphic Artist? And does one’s qualifications need to be set in concrete in order to be respected?
I personally know people that hold the following “titles”:
Internet Data Conversion Analyst Specialist
Intuitive Life Coach
Creative Art Director
Some of the above titles are corporate; others are personal creations. Can you tell the difference?
It’s one thing to hold onto a title in hopes of getting the next one up the ladder. Senior graphic artists usually make more money than graphic artists; art directors more than assistant art directors. Titles often are reflective of the time, education, and experience put into one’s life status.
But often these same rewards take hold of our creative minds and pigeon hole us into corners we cannot get out of. If I don’t have a career of writing copy or documents I don’t have much of a chance for a job labeled “writer.” If I don’t have a degree in finance or accounting I can’t be a financial analyst, no matter how much math and economics I know.
We must leave the corporate titles to the corporations — there is no getting around big brother. But we can do something about our own titles — our own definitions of who we are.
Robin Storey wrote an interesting article on Writer vs. Author: What’s the Difference (http://www.storey-lines.com/2013/04/writer-vs-author-whats-the-difference/). In it she said, “When I Googled ‘difference between writer and author,’ I came across the site ‘Difference Between,’ which explained it clearly. If you’re a writer, you can write about other people’s thoughts and ideas, but an author has to come up with the idea, the plot and content. ”
But in the same article, someone else said, “In other words, a writer is focused on the process of writing, and as soon as they publish one book they’re on to the next. Whereas an author is someone who remains in the past, resting on their laurels and promoting their book instead of getting on with the next one.”
So am I an author or a writer? Does one get more respect than the other? Didn’t the author have to be a writer in order to be an author? Am I a graphic artist or graphic designer? Don’t artists design? A beautician or hair stylist? Don’t beauticians style hair? An Internet Data Conversion Analyst Specialist or a Data Entry Specialist?
Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. People will always see what they want to see. Once we step away from the way Corporate America sees us, we can better focus on a label that will fit us like a glove (even if the glove is fingerless..)
I took a (what was for me) big step today on Linkedin. I added a title of Creative Art Director to my work experience. No, I don’t have a M.F.A., nor do I work at an Art Gallery. But I am the master, er, mistress, of my own Art Gallery — Sunday Evening Art Gallery. I do all the research, the design of the site, the contacting artists and the decisions about what art is unique and what is ordinary. I have customers (viewers), take advice from readers, and spend hours upon hours devoted to my Gallery.
And I’m going to own that title. Just as I am owning the title of Author AND Writer. I’ve had articles published, and, hey! Doesn’t the mere fact that you are reading this mean I’m a writer? And I’m published?
Don’t undersell yourself. If you are well-versed in a subject, pick a title that reflects that. Don’t be afraid to take a creative spin on your creativity and sell it to the world. If you want your name on something, do it. You know your own limitations — don’t back down. Don’t let the corporate world define your personal space.
And while you’re at it — give yourself a raise!