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Commentary & Analysis

The Omnidigitalist

By Pete Rivard December 1,

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: December 1, 2005

By Pete Rivard December 1, 2005 -- Two or three job listings a week come through the Graphics & Printing Technologies Center here in Minneapolis, MN, recently famous as the home of the wet and wild Minnesota Vikings. As difficult as it is to put down the sports page and glance at these listings, a certain evolutionary pattern emerges when one does. It is evolution, as opposed to intelligent design, as it is too soon to say how intelligently guided is this evolutionary pattern. Employers are seeking omnidigitalists, amped on designer java, rock ‘n roll, and predisposed to hurling themselves wherever the work pile is highest. It seems that some smaller and even mid-sized employers locally are asking for talent willing to do color correction, preflighting and prepress, maybe some light design work, and perhaps run the digital press and wide format printer when needed. Color management experience is welcomed. Oh, and if they’re not opposed to some web site work, that would be swell, too. Well, that just about describes my best student worker on a real good day. In any given year, I might have one killer student who can fill that ad. And the trouble is, there are two or three more ads just like that one in the stack. These employers are searching for the omnidigitalist, that very rare breed of ambidextrous Renaissance man (or actually, woman--stronger multitasking abilities, in my experience) amped on designer java and rock ‘n roll and predisposed toward hurling his or herself wherever the work pile is highest. It seems that the more things change, the more they remain the same. In the print shop, digital or otherwise, work still has a tendency to move through in the same manner that a swallowed pig is digested through a snake. It’s a big bulge trying to get through a small pipe. The omnidigitalist is that person who can put a shoulder into the bulge, wherever in the system it is, and help it along. I went shopping this week for a reinforced titanium umbrella. iGens are dropping out of the sky like rain in this town. I know exactly where they’re going, as their purchase is followed immediately by a call for an omnidigitalist on the job posting board. The prepress operator is becoming the press operator. The press is just another color output device with a RIP on the front. No one in ink-spattered coveralls with their nickname embroidered on an oval on the chest need apply. Hey, Rivard! What happened to that uber-talented chick with the blond dreds? When does that Asian kid graduate, anyway? How about starting his internship way early? Hey, Rivard! What happened to that uber-talented chick with the blond dreds? When does that Asian kid graduate, anyway? How about starting his internship way early? Back in the early '80s, when I started in this trade (Oh, my God, I’ve turned into my old man!) I admired the rare individual, often the owner’s kid who’d been working in the trade since the age of six, who could do it all. He’d shoot camera negs, pull them out of the processor, run over to a light table and strip them up, composite the negs, make a proof and throw a necktie on as he dashed out the door to sell the dang job. Now, the omnidigitalist downloads the files from the customer FTP site, preflights the job, color corrects the digital camera files, PDF’s the document, does an email review with the client, makes all the changes, fires the job to the RIP, runs five hundred saddle-stitched booklets, does a face trim at the cutter before boxing up the whole thing. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Except for the necktie. It would clash with the blond dreds.



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