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26
Aug

Nova Scotia’s creative industry? Is it worth staying?

At the beginning of the summer some students from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University approached me as part of a class research project to gather information on locale creatives and their practices. I thought it would be interesting to post their questions and my responses. Here is a little ‘get to know, Orlando’ and a little of what I think of pursuing a creative career in Nova Scotia.

Where are you from?
Originally Toronto, Ontario. I moved to Nova Scotia in 1993.

What type of education do you have?
Bachelor of Visual Communication Design, Honors, Major in Digital Communication Design

Where did you gain your experience?
Before university I worked for many years trying to find my place in the creative world, trying my hand at several different industries. Print designer,  a mural artist, a sign painter, heck even apprenticed as a projectionist. After much research, I decided to go to NSCAD as I was unfocused and needed theory based training. I had already accumulated plenty of ‘hands-on’ experience.

Did you go away after school? Yes/no Why?
I found an industry job right at graduation from NSCAD , although I did have an internship with a local company called Collideascope. RIP You crazy bastards.

Over the years I have seen the idea of a local team dissipate. I have worked with and managed people all over the world, and with technology it makes no difference whether you are three provinces away or in the next room, work can be completed effectively and efficiently

Why do you currently work in Nova Scotia as opposed to elsewhere?
I do love Nova Scotia, I have thought about relocating but share custody of my daughter whose mother is here in NS. It is doubtful I would be happier raising my daughter anywhere but here.

Do you typically hire locally before you hire employees from away?
I make it a point to use local first, this includes suppliers. Not all agencies can boast the same.

Aside from the obvious (reliable, good portfolio, etc) what do you look for in new employees?
Two things to me can rise above a slick portfolio and technical skills. A ‘hungry’ attitude, someone who is driven to grow and learn. The other is a good sense of self. I have no time for ego. Being able to laugh at oneself is extremely important to surviving in the creative world. Humor is essential. To me, being down to earth speaks volumes.

What opportunities was your company able to generate at start-up and within the last two years?
A fairly new opportunity is that we are becoming the agency of record for many smaller companies in the city. In the 25-80 range of employee size. A role that is normally held by an in-house creative team. This offers a company far superior creative they were unable to access in the past.

What is your employee turnover?
I have not had any turnover in my creative department since I established it. However it is quite high in the programming end of our business. It is an extremely high pressure job that few can maintain for long periods.

What advice do you have for new graduates who may want to stay local?
Be prepared to do more than one thing. There is very little room for specialization in the HRM. Learn many skills, keep them up to date. But be sure to DEMAND to be paid appropriately for your services. As anywhere in the world, there is the chance you will be taken advantage of unless you stand up for your self, and give yourself the respect you deserve. Your time and work have value, and the promise of a ‘good portfolio piece’ is not worth your time.

If you have any notes on anything we might have missed, we will be extremely greatful.
Over the years I have seen the idea of a local team dissipate. I have worked with and managed people all over the world, and with technology it makes no difference whether you are three provinces away or in the next room, work can be completed effectively and efficiently. If you want to live in Nova Scotia you can do so and effectively ‘work’ anywhere virtually. This is a trend that has done nothing but expand over the last 10 years. I predict it will only increase.