Jack Of All Trades: Steve Szirotnyak

Obligatory introduction

jackGreetings, visitor! My name’s Steve, and I’m a sort of cross-media designer/adaptor/facilitator here at Metzgers. I create files that can be altered on-the-fly and then printed digitally to produce series of unique documents.

I dislike having to be one of those people who begin a blog entry by lamenting how difficult it had been to come up with a topic for their blog entry. The device generates a tired sort of irony (quite popular these days, granted); in this instance it also segues nicely into an even more lame pop culture reference.

The music in my head

I was trying to think of a topic when, for some reason, I began mentally singing to myself a ditty called “Jack Of All Trades” from what was to be Soul Asylum’s first and last major-label LP with any sort of “indie cred” (years before they rode the “Runaway Train” to an Emmy nomination). Although many of the lyrics throughout “Jack” didn’t speak directly to the task at hand, its title seemed like a good starting point.

Cover of Soul Asylum's Hang Time LP.
Possibly Soul Asylum’s last decent album.

So I’ll begin my inaugural (“Meet the Staff”) entry in earnest with a confession: I’m not really a bona fide expert at anything I do here on a daily basis—at least not in the strictest sense of the word—and I’m ok with that. I admire many people who are among the very best at what they do, but I feel that what I do is to be pretty darn good at most things required of me, though there may be better designers at Metzgers, better writers (probably), and certainly a couple dozen to whom grasp of new technologies comes more intuitively. (Heck, I still don’t even really like computers very much.)

"I feel that what I do is to be pretty darn good at most things required of me."

When Joe Metzger interviewed me for my current position, he was looking for someone with a specific set of skills, but I got the impression he was also looking for someone with a design background who didn’t need to be designing very often. Someone who was willing to do a lot of light programming, yet was more of a designer than a programmer. Perhaps a designer/programmer with above-average communication and editing skills who could also function well in other roles, providing occasional customer service support and giving fresh perspectives on various procedures that might benefit from change, or others that might be best left alone for the time being. And there I was.

It's not trivial...

I’m aware that a lot of this might sound like resumé-padding baloney, but I can assure you that while I may not have spent the past quarter-century honing one specific area of expertise, I’ve been paying attention, and daily I call on a variety of truths (and fallacies) learned over time. In addition to the requisite technical skills and facility with aesthetics, a broad-based cultural literacy is especially invaluable to the creative, and I’ve got a pretty decent arsenal at my disposal. At any given time, my work may be made easier (and better) by virtue of the fact that I know a thing or two about Hans Poelzig’s expressionist architecture, Mariano Fortuny’s pleated silk gowns, or even Soul Asylum’s uneven discography. Thank goodness there remain a few professions outside of academia wherein that knowledge would be considered an asset.

"Thank goodness there remain a few professions outside of academia wherein that knowledge would be considered an asset."

Hans Poelzig's Expressionist Architecture.
Poelzig’s Berlin Schauspielhaus

I can think of my highly individualized sets of skills, interests and “trivial” knowledge in terms of a Venn diagram. Although I can accomplish positive things from anywhere within any of my “sets,” I’m at my strongest when I work nearer the sweet spot in the center that represents a cultural perspective entirely unique to me.

Venn Diagram - Skills, Interests, Trivial Knowledge.
Venn everything comes together
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