A New Year Means a New Focus

Photo of a camera shutter representing a new focus

A lot has happened for me in 2014. This year, I graduated with my MBA from Anderson University. That is something I would have never thought of doing five years ago. If you would have asked me in early 2010 what my career goals were, I would have said I just want to continue being a designer and illustrator.

I don’t regret my career choice, and I consider design and illustration two great career choices. They allowed me to have a long career in publishing. They helped me feed two kids and for a time, allowed my wife to stay home with them. It was a great ride.

But about five years ago, I realized the world had changed dramatically, and it would do no good to ignore it. Technology has fundamentally changed the world of publishing and graphic design.

  • Graphic design moved from being a craft with several people involved to a computer career. Many jobs disappeared. Here are just a few titles that are extinct or nearly so:
    • Compositors
    • Typesetters (Linotype, Compugraphic operators)
    • Photoengravers
    • Prepress pasteup artists
    • Camera operators (They operated the huge, vertical, bellows camera. Those machines are now extinct.)
    • Platemakers
  • The Internet has made design and illustration a global business. Now a designer in the United States must compete with designers in India or Indonesia.
  • Stock photo and illustration companies have made artwork a cheap commodity.
  • Visual design is not just the realm of print designers. Now there are web designers and electronic design

At the same time, the Internet has changed publishing. At one time, if you wanted to publish anything, you would seek out a publisher with the financial resources and know-how to get your words into the market. Whether it was newspapers, magazines, books or other printed material, space was scarce and inventories had to be high. No one person could publish anything without the aid of publishers.

Today, you can publish anything with social media. You can take a word processing file and have it turned into a book by the end of the day. Before, you would need to print thousands of copies to make a book worth producing. Now, print-on-demand allows you to print only what you or your customer wants.

In short, my career and the industry I’ve worked in has been transformed. I knew I couldn’t keep doing what I’ve done for twenty-five years, because that  world no longer existed. So I went back to school to pursue my MBA.

  • I rediscovered marketing.
  • I discovered what happens when companies and industries fail to change.
  • I confirmed what I suspected
    • There are no hard and fast rules for this new normal.
    • Publishers are trying to figure all this out just like the individuals dedicated to it.
    • Change is hard, but necessary

Last year, I completed my MBA. I am taking a new role as marketing manager  for my company. Do I have all the answers? Hardly! I have just moved from not knowing what I didn’t know to merely knowing what I don’t know. I am hopeful I can make a difference in the publishing industry. We still need people who can sift the wheat from the chaff. Because anybody can publish anything now, there is a flood of information. Some of it is good. Some of it is, well, less than stellar! Publishers can help the world discover the stuff worth reading.

Because of all this, my focus has changed. I used to be happy sharing my cartoons to the world. Now, I want to make a bigger difference in publishing. More importantly, I want to help the Christian publishing industry continue to make a difference in a world that needs light in a dark world.

My blog will no longer focus on my drawings and illustrations. Now it will be focused on publishing and marketing within this genre. I invite you to come along with me. Let’s see what we discover!

Author: Kevin Spear

I am a marketing professional with a design flair, based in Clayton, Ohio. I specialize in digital and content marketing that increases brand awareness for small businesses and nonprofits.