Added over 2 years ago
The finished artist
What's a finished artist?
A graphic designer at 5.30pm? (Ha! Most designers would scoff – we're rarely finished at 5.30pm).
So, most people within or around the design and advertising industries will have heard tell of the finished artist. (If you're in the US, your graphic design agency or ad agency likely employs a couple of productions artists. Same thing.) Not many seem all that clear on what it is not. (This is reflected in the Australian government's list of occupations for immigration purposes, where “finished artist” doesn't even appear, falling between the stools of “graphic artist” and “pre-press operator”.
Here's a very short and possibly not completely accurate list of what your finished artist is not:
- A graphic designer, only cheaper.
- A trainee graphic designer (despite what Wikipedia might tell you).
- A desktop publisher.
Basically, your finished artist is the one that makes sure the beautiful brochure or annual report or direct mail or product catalogue or press ad or suite of corporate stationery you've commissioned your design agency to produce appears at its best. They're the technicians supporting the creativity of the graphic designer. They're the ones who know about typography, typesetting, re-sizing, layouts, photographic retouching, printing processes, image resolution, colour profiles and modes, file formats and file transfer technology. The finished artist looks after all this so that the designer doesn't have to.
Originally a print-only job, finished art used to involve cameras the size of a large fridge, bromide-covered photographic paper, lots of glue and scalpels, transfer lettering, big room-size typographic machines with rollers that would allow you to expose one letter at a time for creating headlines, and lots of rulers, tee-squares and set-squares. Once the Mac revolution hit in the late 80s/early 90s those processes switched to computers, and so did the finished artist, particularly those quick enough on the uptake to realise that they were desperately needed by old-school graphic designers and art directors who were struggling to keep up with the technology.
Let's go back to our list of what the finished artist is not. Okay, if we look a little closer, perhaps we're not being perfectly accurate. Some finished artists do have a certain amount of design ability. All will have at least some design sensibility. So if you can't pay a designer, pay a finished artist. The standard will likely be lower, but they'll be glad of the work. And, truth be told, sometimes graphic artists and designers work as finished artists if they have the technical skills. They're not happy, though.
The other side of this coin is that as time goes on, more and more graphic design agencies require that their designers have finished art skills and can take their work through from concept to production. Design schools tend to respond to agency requirements, so new designers are coming onto the market with more rounded skills. Or at least that's the hope.
That brings is to number two on our list. A finished artist is not a trainee graphic designer. Except when they are. Sometimes, in an echo of the old apprenticeship system from way back when, an aspiring graphic designer will work as a junior finished artist in order to gain some skills and experience. This is dangerous ground, it's a strategy that can work, but it can also lead to the young designer falling into a bad groove, particularly if they're a good finished artist. They'll do well at finished art, and their design opportunities will dwindle.
Number three. A finished artist is not a desktop publisher. More importantly, a desktop publisher is not a finished artist. Desktop publishers generally work in large organisations generating communications material like newsletters. They are rarely properly trained in design, and would struggle in an ad agency environment without the proper training. Finished artists tend to come from a design background, desktop publishers tend to come from a secretarial background.
Finished art has an uncertain future as a discipline. As print becomes a secondary medium, finished artists have had to move into the digital world, where different rules apply. I've heard it said that in five years' time there will be no more finished artists.
Of course, I first heard that said in 1995.
So, there you go, a short treatise on what exactly a finished artist is, and what they do for your advertising agency or design house.
The finished artist. Not finished yet.
Posted by Art Webber at 11:38 am 0 Comments