I am new to the world of animation, coming from a software development background. Along the way I have learned to use lots of different tools, most of them quickly, but with a few I hit a brick wall pretty quick - Photoshop and Maya come to mind, and now maybe Spine belongs on that list for me. I realized that these are complex tools requiring dedicated time, artistic ability and effort to become expert in. I find the learning curve for Spine quite 'demanding' from a UI point of view. I can get the basics done, follow tutorials, but the subtleties and difficulties of advanced use have surprised me, leading me to think that perhaps I have bitten off more than I can chew ( as a developer learning to do good, but not great animation).

So I was wondering whether being a Spine 'expert' a distinct, marketable skill some people have, or is it just another tool that a lot of animators know and use to varying degrees, and that I just need to stop whining and work harder LOL.

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There are people who are Spine experts and there is a great demand for them! Ultimately, a good animator will be good regardless of the tool as long as they know how to apply the principles of animation. Regarding rigging and advanced aspects of Spine, that's a plus that comes with use!
If you're ever curious about particular aspects of Spine, feel free to ask! There's a thriving community, and seeing what solutions some people come up with is quite inspiring.
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