Some may call it the ‘tea boy’ role, others rave about it being the foot in the door all wannabe designers need, but no matter where you stand on the role of the artworker, these days they are in big demand and it would appear the skills they posses are in decline.
Traditionally, artworkers were the ones who took the designers concept and brought it to life. Before the digital age, they were often presented with line drawings, photographs, film and printed media and given a design brief from which they would have to create the finished product. In days gone by their role was perhaps more creative than it is today, but the required skills remain the same.
The role of the modern artworker:
Today artworkers are often required to make documents ‘print ready’ applying formatting, spell checking and other print ready editing to ensure that when it rolls off the press it is exactly as the designer envisaged. They may also be required to produce models representing a concept before it is approved for construction, so artworkers may need to be adept with a pair of scissors and some sticky tape! The work can be extremely varied – one day you are asked to design an address label, the next produce a full suite of promotional materials; it can be boring, it can be challenging but it should always be remembered that the role is not a creative one.
Why demand is high:
Some may ask why the role of the artworker is in such high demand or even still required given the feature rich nature of modern design software and DTP programs. Simply put, the majority of design graduates do not possess the necessary skills to actually make their work print ready, or even ready for digital publishing. Print houses in particular are exasperated by the lack of editing skills and print knowledge many graphic designers and artists possess.
Having an in-house artworker to carry out this work and ensure documents are ready for printing means projects can run on time and on budget – having your printer apply the necessary formatting, editing and corrections can mean long delays, increased costs and unhappy clients!
Artworker jobs come under many different titles. Sometimes referred to as Mac operators, creative artworkers, digital artworkers and finished artists, the role should not be considered as an entry level position. Whilst graphic designers are tasked with the job of creating the concept, artworkers are the ones who have to bring it to life and often graphic designers lack the skills to do this, as strange as that may seem.
It is true that those who take on artworker jobs do find it leads to bigger and better things and they can easily build a network of contacts for future work. However, whilst graphic designers are ten a penny, artworkers are becoming hard to find which means demand is strong and salaries are competitive. If you have an aptitude for this kind of work, are experienced with the popular design software titles and do not mind taking on the boring jobs with the exciting ones then you can enjoy a long career in the design industry in role that will continue to be in demand.