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  1. #1
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    Right brain vs. left brain

    In the last year to year and a half, I have read a lot of classified ads which ask for a "Talented designer with knowledge of java, asp, javascript, PERL, actionscript, etc." In other words, this employer is looking for a candidate who can perform equally well with both sides of their brain. The right brain is usually considered the creative side and the left is more math & logic skills. This made me wonder: What percentage of the population can actually perform on this level?

    I have no scientific data to back up my theory but I believe that which side of the brain people favor is loosely related to which hand people favor. Whether you are right handed or left handed, if you try to use the opposite hand for things like writing, signing your name or doing delicate precise tasks, chances are it won't turn out so well. The percentage of the population that can use their right & left hands equally is about 10%. This fact I actually looked up.

    A temporary placement agent who specializes in the creative field told me that he believes that the percentage of people who can claim to be equally good at the artistic problem solving of design and the logic-based problem solving of programming is about 3%. Again this is not based on science but rather his observation. Most applicants who told him they could do both tasks fell far short of their claims in one of the areas when he sent them on an assignment.

    So here is my question. Is it reasonable for an employer to expect an applicant to perform both the creative and programming aspects of interactice media? Or are these employers just being cheapscates expecting one person to do the work of a team?

    Mark Hannon
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  3. #2
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    I think they just want a technical person but put the word designer so it seems more interesting. Often , when you read the task description, the art side is to be able to resize images in photoshop.

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  4. #3
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    they are cheapskating, imo, if they pay a person the same scale but expect professional performance with both halves of his or her greyware, as you put it.

    i must be in your temper's 3% 'cause i've been drawing, painting and programming since i could hold the tools or there were PCs available (i'm talkin' when 64K RAM was cutting edge. that's right, KILObytes). i now do both game content creation and scripting (Unreal engine), not a superstar at either but more than just competent, and have written full-blown plugins and graphics apps for the Mac (pre OSX) for personal use. i would expect better compensation for a position that would heavily utilize both these skill pools on a regular basis.

    however, there's a big diff in my mind between "knowledge of" and "capable of reasonably advanced practical programming with" the languages you cite. if being familiar enough with coding to recognize its part in the design and production process and to facilitate communication with the production coders, is what is actually required, then a pay boost isn't warranted. it's just good BG knowledge that will help the workflow.

    from my experience, it would be unlikely that both good quality concept art dev and good quality production-level coding could be done by a single person during a realtime production cycle -- they are both very time-intensive and there's little direct crossover in skills, so the tasks don't heterodyne worth a damn. the key word, though, is "quality."

    it would also be a way to burn out your employees in very short order.

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  5. #4
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    Both sides of my brain are crap. I have a horrible visual memory and the only way I can remember things is in words so I break down images into information I can work with. I'm right handed but I use my left hand a lot now for the base sketch because it's much easier to see the image and focus on tracing it. I also don't need a ton of control with my left hand because I go slow and trace the image projected onto the page. I bet a lot of people are good with both sides of their brain if they work on it.

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    One of my old colleagues was our resident web designer (DJ'ed partime also). Pretty damn good at what he did and fit the description of "Talented designer with knowledge of java, asp, javascript, PERL, actionscript, etc." However, it was mainly scripting he was doing, a lot of cut and paste, knowing what the code did and how to use it as opposed to hacking it out from scratch. A book on .ASP resided on his desk along with a fair number of bookmarks to online help sites.

    For raw coding, he was dependent on another friend (who also happened to play in the uni's orchestra) who literally learned web based scripting and SQL from books. Graduated as a music major but moved instantly into a high paying programming job.

    Of course, on the other hand, most of my current colleagues live and breathe C++ and VB, but prolly couldn't lift a pencil to save their lives.

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    machzero raises a good point about the difference between gut-level programming with C++ or VB, and the various kinds of scripting, which are a layer or two higher in the programming "hierarchy" and generally much easier to wing it with. scripting languages have so many common features, learning one makes most all of them more accessible. still, any scripting or coding that is wholly original, rather than adaptive (the cut & paste from a web-based library type stuff), requires a lot of time for writing and debugging if an employer is expecting robust code that won't break the first time a user shakes the box. doing that and cranking out worthwhile concept art -- that should be worth hazard pay.

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  8. #7
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    I recall reading that 19th century doctors realized that the right side of the brain controlled the left hand and was also the creative side of the brain. From this information, they postulated that left-handed artists would be more creative. Obviously, the data did not support this theory, so relating various levels of ambidextrity to creativity or artistic skill isn't cut and dried.
    I am not very good with my left hand (well, not with a pencil, anyway), but I am an engineering graduate and I draw.

    I think the number of folks who work both sides well might be rare, but there's nothing wrong with a company looking for these skills in one package. They should be able to draw a much higher price, though. It's economics: the company generally gets what they're willing to pay for. Even if they doubled the salary, it would cost less than highering two people, taking benefits into consideration.

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    oh yeah... i've a somewhat similiar background with dogfood, and I doodle... sorta... and my left hand is near useless except for driving and typing, and my motor skills over the right hand isn't anything to shout about either. But I occasionally need to hack out a piece of real code at work, but stuff like visual is after my time.

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    My obsevation about this is left handed people are less structured, more lunatic ,make weird conection whit think and event. Right people look more structured in they life, they are more metodic,they gona use the right tool for the job, left handed people ganna try whit other things. Anyway IT just a observation, i can be totally wrong, it just what i feel about left and right handed.



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  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramzeal
    My obsevation about this is left handed people are less structured, more lunatic ,make weird conection whit think and event.
    Well, I'm right-handed and fit the random, lunatic, weird connection points (as many here may be able to testify).

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  12. #11
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    I'm not sure anyone has ever made a convincing connection between "handedness" and ability. If anyone knows of a study that pulled in some real data on this point, that would be interesting. Speaking personally, I'm very right-handed, more creative than technical in my background, but a pretty balanced "logical" thinker.

    I have to agree with qitsune... when you see an ad like that, it often means they want a tech person that has basic photoshop or flash skills... and don't want to compromise their trendy design firm's image.

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  13. #12
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    You use both sides of the brain when you draw. Drawing is not entirely creative, especially when you're observing from life. It's very methodical and logical from there as you observe where each muscle is placed and why.

    Giving a figure a light source is very logical as well...you have to think about shapes and consider how much light will fall on each.

    art is not solely in the right brain.

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  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dogfood
    Well, I'm right-handed and fit the random, lunatic, weird connection points (as many here may be able to testify).
    yeas true, any body can fit this achetype, it just tha i know a lot of left handed people fitiing in this mold than right handed people. but if you take like all the left handed, 80% exemple gonna fit , and maybe 20% of the right handed (fictif numbers). But it just a observation, there nothing scientific in my point. it just my point, i may be wrong, dunno...

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