Are we upon the age of the Generalist?


Hey guys,
Lately I have been noticing a surging pattern that artists and designers in medium to small shops are being asked to become jacks of all trades.

More and more I have seen a artists being asked to know more sets of varied skills.

Not only we are expected to know about animation, but we are also expected to know graphic design, some coding and even photography, videography & post…

I been asking around to my fellow artist in the area (WASH DC) and we have noticed this growing pattern too.

So what do you guys think?

And is the 3d artist specially suited to be able to adapt better to these new set of requirements? (since they are expected in the first place to master an huge number of skills)

Looking forward to your comments…


I prefer life as a generalist. It keeps things interesting. Right now my jobs range from 3d animation, modeling, texturing, rigging, etc, to Flash animation and graphic design, as well as client management. But I’m in a small shop.


I like getting my hands dirty in all kinds of way but the problem is that some people expect us to be one-man-pixars. :applause: It’s difficult to keep your eyes on all these new developments and absorbing and excelling and being fast at all of them.

I don’t know…maybe there will come a widespread realization that generalists are a bit like medical GPs who treat colds and recognize the more serious disease that need the specialist’s care. Oh, and laying healing hands on aching souls and wraping cabbage leaves around painful knees.


I’ve noticed that as well, the demand for Generalists is rising. But it’s mainly in small to medium sized studios, the feature film business will always be in more need of specialized people. The reason being is I think smaller studios have to take on more variety of projects since they can’t really be picky, especially now with the crisis going on, so they want people that can do almost anything.

But at my current (and last) company I’ve been asked to do all kinds of stuff, from motion graphics, matte paintings, tracking, animation, particle effects, rendering, compositing and more. Personally I like it but the downside is you only know so much about everything that you really can’t specialize in anything. Unless you do it in your own time.


My goal is to become a generalist or attain generalist/overall skills before the end of next year. :slight_smile:



I’ve been a generalist for the last 10 years and I can only say that I find it far more interesting, but I also believe strongly that you must have an outstanding specialty to get you through the door. Just “being good at everything” isn’t going to cut it. You need to be great at something and good at many others.

Having more than one way to solve a problem in your arsenal of skills is really useful.


Interesting trend.

I consider myself a generalist. But, I do only 3D graphics (illustrations, abstract imagery, even photorealism), that is: modelling, texturing, rendering and even simple rigging for posing my characters. I also do 2D graphics: icons, interfaces of any kinds. I try to focus only on these and not get into programming of any sorts or too deep with animation, other than simple rigs.

It’s more fun and creative to be able to do more things. Keeps the boredom level very low ;). But, still, it can be harder to keep up.


In small companies, we’ve always needed to know how to animate our work, edit it, photoshop it and then stick it up on a website. I dont see how this has changed at all over the years


This has changed in a way that small/mid sized 3D studios require their staff to be more versatile instead of just being a modeler or an animator. I’m not saying this goes for all companies but this has increased over the years.


IMO in Germany we currently have the opposite trend. The 3D and CG industry has been quite small over here wtih small projects putting generalist over specialist skills.During the last few years there has been a higher demand for specialists with companies like CA Scanline working on bigger and more complex projects.


But that’s how most small to medium sized shops have always been. I agree with imashination; I don’t think anything has really changed at all.


You say that, but I can count the number of small companies in the UK producing good work presented a well designed website on one foot.

I’d have to classify myself as a generalist and I’ve always liked to think that I’ve never really specialised in any area of CG because I love them all… But I’m willing to admit it’s much more likely my true skill is being crap at lots of things simultanously.


I agree it’s best to be good at one or 2 things and also have generalist skills…still, It’s probably different for each situation…some companies likely have their drones that specialize and they are happy if they only do their little patch of work and don’t know much about anything else…more of a factory assembly line mentality.

Other companies have a desire to see their artists interact…to them hiring people with a specialization provides a high level of art, but they realize the specialists who also have generalist skills are better able to work on a team and contribute in a meaningful and productive way.

There’s some good info around about the changes that came to Disney when Pixar moved in…tearing down the Disney office cubicles and opening up the whole work area for artists to interact…that kind of exemplifies the different ways of thinking imo …also the quality of the end product is affected by the way things are run…factories are effective, but not a very happy place to work, let alone create.

I think you are right that people who have tackled complex software are more easily able to tackle more of the same…unless they have stuck with only one app, adding the second complex app was the biggest hurdle for me, but after I got over that it is now easir to add the 3rd 4th etc.


Perhaps it has become easier to become a generalist? No longer do you need a degree in physics to be a fluid expert you just play round with Blender or Realflow. You don’t need to know advanced coding to create crowd simulations, you just load up your favourite animation app. You don’t need a lab to professionally grade footage, you buy a plugin like Magic Bullet’s Looks.

As hardware and software becomes cheaper it is easier to pickup new tools and widen our knowledge. The final results will always depend on the person behind the controls but it’s easier than ever to learn new skills so why not take advantage of that?


I think biliousfrog has just said the magic word. “tools”
Maybe it’s just me but I have been noticing a marked increase in userfriendlyness (sp?)
Most (software)tools are getting more and more easy to get into at least the basics. And sometimes it’s actually quite easy to get to the point were the “civilians” could regard your work as “awesome”. As such it’s getting easier to learn more and more different tools as opposed to specializing in using a single one.

Not to mention the enormous boatload of tutorials widely available on the web. You need to learn a new skill? Grab a hot coccoa, a few hours and go watch some video tutorials handeling just the specific skills you need for a certain task and voila. (Youtube has been a massive help in just getting to grips with the Blender interface)

So yes, it’s suddenly become a lot easier to become a generalist. Although I still feel you need at least one or two fields of specialization to avoid a “jack of all traders, master of none” type :slight_smile:


Condescend much?

I agree that it’s important for artists to have at least a basic idea of what others are doing, but referring to specialists as “drones” is not only insulting, but also very ignorant.


Part of the reason I have posted this thread is that lately, I have noticed a pattern were the requirements have gone up in general for artists, animators & designers .(At least in this area).

Shops that had nothing to do with animation, all of the sudden are requiring at least some basic animation skills.

for example Designers, who would never come near the stuff we do, are now expected, in some shops, to start mastering skills from the world of CG animation.

They always have been expected to be able to do the core skillsets of:
Web & Graphic Design, Print & exhibit Layout skills

But now they are expected to know Photography, video recording & Editing , animation & programming skills.

and i have seen how more medium to small shops are pushing their animators into the world of the designers.


It was an analogy…maybe not the best, but seemed fitting since recently reading an article promoting the ideas of needing a factory line mentality in CG houses to boost production and profitability…anyways…sorry


…probably it has more than one reason…one would seem to be cost advantages to have one person do a few jobs? Maybe they are looking for more places to make money and expand?


I love being a generalist. I enjoy doing all aspects of a job and the comping at the end. Originally, i wanted to get into films, but now im happy doing commercials and virals for smaller studios. i get to do all fun bits of the job rather than being stuck on a single scene for weeks on end just doing the materials or lighting or whatever… I still would love to work on feature films, but i dont think i would enjoy just being a cog in a big wheel. maybe i have it wrong though and its not really like that.