After graduating from college, compositing artists usually venture into the animation world to take on a wide range of responsibilities. As one of the vital players in the production process, companies rely on them to set the objectives and finalize projects. This also includes a lot of instances of modifying the animation or the film.
When stepping outside of the so-called corporate world, however, the career outlook is noticeably different. Instead of having multiple projects and a constant stream of work, compositing artists have to battle for their engagements. So, will it be easy for you to work for yourself in this field?
What do Compositing Artists Do?
Before answering the question, it is important to glance over some of the most important responsibilities of compositing artists. According to the College of Digital Arts and Animation, these professionals deal with the overall composition of the project. That means taking everything that goes into an animation or a film and combining it naturally. Working directly with the animators, lighting directors, and practically every department that is involved in the production process is one of their mandatory job duties. Being an employee, on the other hand, is not a mandatory condition. That means that they could do all of the aforementioned tasks as independent freelancers. Does that mean that it will be easy for you to work for yourself as a compositing artist? Not necessarily.
Dealing With the Competition
By considering sole-proprietorship, you are flirting with the idea of entering a very competitive market. Even though the sector for artists who specialize in compositing is not enormous, the vast majority of creators have their businesses. That includes the artists that may already be working as full-time employees as they frequently pursue individual projects on the side. Those who work as employees find it much easier to transition into sole-proprietorship because they meet a plethora of clients daily. If you plan on jumping into the freelancing market, one of your main concerns should be the tough barriers to entry. Customers who already found compositing specialists will seldom even consider your services. Ironically, those who are looking will also be reluctant to consider your services because you may lack the freelancing experience. In translation, you will be facing a very difficult predicament that stems from fierce competition.
Unpaid Networking and an Endless Project Search
The next thing that comes into play is all the unpaid time that working for yourself will include. Before you can start earning money by offering compositing services, you need to find a buyer. This networking and searching stage can seem endless as you spend hours interacting with potential clients and writing job offers. Unfortunately, every minute that you invest becomes an unrecoverable sunk cost. That means that you can never have that time back, and you must simply move on in search of additional opportunities. Of course, getting job offers very fast is not uncommon. Artists who live in areas that are known for their entertainment industry will usually have no shortage of clients. Even they, though, have to embrace a few unpaid hours to establish a relationship and discuss expectations with their buyers.
Additional Taxation Concerns
When you work for yourself, regardless of the industry in which you operate, the government will classify you as a self-employed contractor. Another common term is a 1099 worker as you will receive a Form 1099 for every project where you earn more than $600 per year. Besides the extra paperwork and a neat title, your new status will come with something that gives most entrepreneurs a headache. More taxes. When you work for yourself as a compositing artist, your employer is not the one covering one-half of your Medicare and social security contributions. Instead, you have to pay for the entire 15.3 percent of the self-employment tax. Not to mention that your career as a freelancer will make you ineligible for practically any benefits that regular employees are entitled to. Examples include health insurance, paid time off, retirement savings, and many non-cash perks that W-2 workers enjoy.
Business Operation Issues
According to Forbes, approximately one-half of all small businesses fail within the first year. How does this concern you? After all, you are simply working as an independent compositing artist, right? Not exactly. If you look at the data provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration, you will notice that small businesses, also known as sole-proprietors, are the most common entity type in the country. While it is true that you will work for yourself, you are technically considered an individual business. Subsequently, the aforementioned 50-percent failure rate applies to your venture as well. To ensure that you avoid going bankrupt, you will need to spend a lot of time learning how to navigate entrepreneurship. That means dealing with day-to-day business issues. Your talents as a compositing artist will not help much here, and you will be forced to learn the ins and outs of owning a venture. There is a good chance that you will lose money during the early stage of trial and error.
Problems With Consistency in Demand
When you work as an employed compositing artist, there may be a day or a week when you have very little to work on. Such times are great for getting some additional training and working on projects for other artists. If you have a week without any projects as an independent contractor, however, it means you will earn zero dollars that week. Hence why any demand inconsistencies will affect you a lot worse when you work for yourself versus when you are an employee.
Even after analyzing the most common problems, there are many upsides in establishing a freelancing career. Some of the most popular ones are the unparalleled flexibility, chance to earn more by setting custom hourly rates, and the authority to accept and decline projects as you please. Notwithstanding, you must recognize that you will face a lot of adversity when pursuing a freelancing career as a compositing artist.