Networking: Shout out to my AI friends.

A Little about Networking, from My Perspective…

Today I want to talk a bit about networking. Particularly my perspective of it. First of all, I should explain that I’m an introvert, like a lot of fellow artists out there. Although, I don’t consider myself shy, and I love performing at karaoke, I am soft-spoken, and being in a social setting takes a lot of mental effort. I will have to recover and recuperate at home for a few days after a networking event. The ironic thing about this, is that the artist, graphic design, and animation industries rely so much on the networking model for connections and employment opportunities, yet artists as a whole are generally more inclined toward introversion, making it extremely difficult to navigate the social interactions necessary for a successful career.

Another side of the equation that doesn’t get noticed very often is how the peer-to-peer connections are affected. This is where my friends from my animation school, The Art Institute of California – SF, comes into play. I wish I was better at ‘small talk’. Once I get to know someone, I can have deep conversations about emotional relationships and relativistic physics, but the “Hi, how are you doing? How’re your kids?” conversations just don’t come naturally for me. Plus, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and all my friends who also live here can attest to the fact that you pretty much need to spend ALL your time just trying to continue existing in this community. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for arranging meets, having drinks or just hanging out playing video games. So it seems that the only time I’m contacting my friends from school and when I’m trying to cash in on the networking mechanism to try and land a job. Basically, when I need something from them.

So, this is essentially my apology to you: I really do want to be friends with you, and hang out with you doing fun stuff, and hearing about your life. I’m sorry that you only hear from me when I want something.

I also suffer from something I like to call, ‘desperation’. I was afflicted with it all through high school. Any time I wanted to ask a girl out, or even talk to them normally, I would give off waves of desperation, scaring away all but the most ardent friends. Even when I didn’t want a date, when I just wanted to have a normal conversation, It would come off to them like I was asking them for their hand in marriage.

I eventually learned how to tone myself down so I could have workable relationships. However, I’ve noticed a variation of desperation when it comes to networking. Whenever I’m at networking events, or trying to reach out to colleagues, I give off these waves of desperation. No matter what I say, all anyone seems to hear is something like “Can you give me a job?” I still have not been able to figure out how to fix that interaction.

On the flip side, I would love to be in a position to help my fellow artists. I love helping people. I can’t wait until I’m in a position to suggest one of my super talented former classmates for an opening at the company I will then be working for. I would love the opportunity to collaborate with them on cool projects.

So, AI students, if you’re out there and reading this, please feel free to reach out to me and help me get back into the swing of being social and connected. Comment on this blog, send me a random message on Facebook, text me, or even the old-fashioned phone call. I would love to hear from you.

Thank you,

Craig Smith



Mourning a technique?

Hello friends. Welcome, from the M•A•S.

Today, I need to talk about something sad. I am in mourning for some of my artistic endeavors. Thank you for your patience while I explain…

Through our M•A•S Artwork blog, many of you probably only know of my artistry through my photographs or my pointillism pieces. Some of you also know that I’m an accomplished artist in many other arenas too. I draw by hand and have done comic book illustration, hand-rendered pencil sketch portraits and traditional illustration. I also work in graphic design, doing things like brochures and business cards. After going back to school for animation, I became an animator, as well as creating game art and web graphics. And that’s just the tip of my particular iceberg.

Unfortunately, all this variety in skill sets also comes with a price. For years now, I have been having trouble finding jobs to keep me employed on a consistent basis. What I’ve come to understand is that because I am doing so many different things, my portfolio in any one specific area suffers by comparison to others who are only focusing on that one discipline. All of their time is devoted to a specific skill, such as game art. So they have more practice, and will have better material to choose from to make a kick-ass portfolio. Because of the economy in the last decade, there are hundreds or thousands of [place chosen job title here]’s out there from which to choose. Therefore, employers don’t need to take a chance on me and my talents or project that I could do something, because they can see hundreds of excellent portfolios that have done it.

That’s the reality, and I’ve accepted it. The hard part is doing something about it. In order to change the situation, what I must do is choose only one area of focus. I have never been able to do that before. I love being creative, drawing, using the computer, and making wonderful things happen in my images. The actual method, purpose or medium doesn’t matter as much to me. I don’t have that ‘one lifelong dream or drive that I must do [blank]’. So, to choose only one thing to do, feels like someone telling a florist that they need to only sell yellow daisies. No other flowers, no other colors. But they’ll be successful in the end and sell a lot of yellow daisies if they just stick with it.

So… that’s what I’ve been attempting to do, and it is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. I haven’t gotten to the point of having only one focus, but I’ve narrowed it down to a few. What that means is that there are several areas of artistry that I am no longer pursuing. They are styles and techniques that I love and are good at, but I’ve had to let them go. It hurts, and feels like the loss of a loved one. The silver lining is that nothing is forever, and if I need to, I can always go back to it and pick it back up. That seems small consolation at this point, but I’m sure I’ll feel differently in time.

Illustration of a grave with "Art" carved on the headstone and a vase of daisies on the mound of dirt

For now, I’ll have more time to devote to the areas in which I’ve decided to dedicate my focus. Those areas will blossom with the extra attention and time, and the art will flourish. Have no fear devoted followers, for my pointillism and photography are still part of the mix and I’m still creating new works. You will be the beneficiaries, and will see the results soon as I’ll have more time and material that I’ll be able to post in this blog and on our website. (

After reading over this blog before posting, I see that it can appear very morose. That’s not my emotion upon writing this. I intend it to be more like thoughtful contemplation.

Thanks for stopping in today, and I hope you enjoy our artwork. Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog, leave a comment and share. See you next time.