Is it better to concentrate on and master one aspect of design? Or, is it better to have several arms of skill?
In today’s design world there is a lot of crossover, where different skills can merge and complement each other to create something refreshingly unique. Yet there is also a need for a focused approach to design, which raises the question; do I need to discipline my disciplines?
You may well be a jack of all trades, and while not necessarily a master of none, you may not have a true focal point with which you can say ‘I am an…’ To have many skills is an investment in one’s self. It sets you up with the potential to take on a wider spectrum of diverse opportunities.
At the same time, that lack of fine-tuning to one path is rather nicely said in this quote from Simon Collison, ‘To attempt mastery of everything inevitably makes us mediocre in many areas.’ Personally, I think having a range of skills results in the creation of richer ideas and ways of thinking; it’s not just about the design execution.
If you concentrate on one discipline you have a greater focus and opportunity to excel at that one field, to be an expert with a defined mastery would earn you a solid reputation for that one aspect of design. However, unless you’re totally set on that being your medium, you may find yourself wondering what it’s like to try out and experiment with other tools and methods. The Law of the Instrument says, ‘If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.’ So, if for example your instrument is a skill for packaging design, are you restricting your potential?
Ultimately, your portfolio is your passport in the creative world. Where you want to go with it and in what direction is up to you. Ask yourself; do I need to discipline my disciplines?