For design-based companies, Vancouver has it all: a great natural environment, international culture, and creative educational institutions aplenty. This combination had acted like a tractor beam, pulling creative companies—and creative talent—into the city’s orbit.
Our challenge, as a growing company in need of talented 2D and 3D creatives is to convince artists to work for us and not the film, TV, or animation studio across the street. Our success in finding the talent we need comes from our ability to do a few things right, things that other companies—even our creative competitors—can learn to do too.
First, Make the Work Unique
People in the creative arts, don’t like routine: Find ways to keep things fresh. Many 3D designers spend their working hours designing environments—maybe modeling trees and bushes. At Youtooz, we offer them something different—the chance to not just design characters, but to see them come to life as vinyl figures you can put on a shelf.
We also compete for 2D designers. Many 2D designers in animation will work on the same scene for months. But because our business is based on characters and internet figures that are here today and gone tomorrow, our designers are always doing something new—a popular YouTuber or video game property one day; a Twitch streamer or Appa from Avatar the next.
Deliver the Right Culture
Commit to helping your artists learn and grow. Today, companies must compete on culture as much as on salaries and assignments. This is especially true for creative companies. Prospective employers must be committed to providing younger artists with training and development opportunities.
At Youtooz, when new artists join our team, they go through a 2-3 week “academy” program that introduces them to the people and projects that will make up their daily work life. They shadow working artists, create original artwork—and have their art critiqued by the team. Creative work is very personal, so we need to see how receptive new hires are to feedback, and whether they are willing to collaborate and execute when the team’s vision differs from their own.
Our longer-term goal is that if someone does transition out of Youtooz, that there will have been a noticeable improvement in their work. We hope that people will choose Youtooz not just because it has the right culture and creative freedom, but because they know that they’re going be pushed to improve.
Give Prospective Hires a Clear View into the Company
Pull back the curtains on your company’s “inner life.” Traditionally, companies post highly produced videos on their hiring page to try to give people a flavor of what it’s like to work at the company. At Youtooz, we take a slightly different approach, posting content on our socials and hosting a YouTube channel that regularly highlights the creative work our artists are engaged with every day, including how they bring our characters to life. We believe that the more potential employees get a sense of the excitement behind the work—and the business itself—the more they’ll be apt to apply.
Understand What Truly Motivates Your Employees
Think of your bottom line as curved, not straight: Business is business, but a lot of companies seem overly focused on long working hours and strenuous output quotas. To acquire the best talent these days, however, companies must balance bottom-line needs with an understanding of and, when possible, an accommodation to what their employees find most fulfilling.
Our main product line is vinyl figures of internet characters and moments, and that’s what most team members work on. Recently, though, one of our team members expressed an interest in creating hand-printed artistic renderings of popular Youtooz characters. This wasn’t a core piece of our business. It wasn’t key to our overall business strategy. But it was important to this team member, and provided what we thought might be a unique opportunity to for them sharpen their skills. We are now working with a Canadian printing company to create a select collection of these images.
At Youtooz, we try to give our people the opportunity to explore new creative realms. By making our employees comfortable enough to bring ideas like this to us, we hope to build the kind of trust that will encourage them to share other creative ideas with us as well. Of course, companies must find the balance between the creative needs of their staff and the more practical needs of the business. In our view, finding this balance is one of the most important steps a company can take to attract the talent it needs to thrive.
Austin Long is the Co-Founder of Vancouver-based Youtooz.
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