OK, so I’m a little late with this blog post, and I have no excuse other than I simply forgot in this whirlwind of finishing the class and working my two jobs. I have found in life that the more dishes you add to a dinner, the less each one will be eaten, unless there are Italians at that dinner (and I am Italian, so I can make that joke). Now, what does all of this have to do with the article we needed to read? What does my inability to juggle several obligations of equal priority have to do with anything? Well, this sums up my thoughts on the article.
I am not at all saying that designers should not be well-rounded, because we should. We should DEFINITELY learn all kinds of different styles, media, techniques, etc. so that we can be flexible for our employers. That flexibility allows us to think outside of the box and explore all angles of our creativity, without assigning boundaries. Something I try to do in my portfolio is to have different kinds of work and different styles to show a wide range of my skills, so that regardless of the type of employer I am meeting, I will have something to display that I can do what they need me to do. (A good idea is to have interchangeable pieces so that you can tailor your portfolio to a specific employer.) Of course, that’s difficult to do when all you do is sign work, so that’s why I’m going to try to assign myself non-sign projects from time to time once this class is over.
However, there is the saying that you can either be a master of one trade, or a jack of all trades. Which one is better? Personally I think it’s best to be a jack of all, and a semi-master at a few, if that makes sense. Unfortunately, just like I’ve recently dropped a few balls in my personal life due to feeling that I’m spread too thin, that can easily happen as a designer as well. If you spend too much time doing a little web design, a little print design, a little video, etc., then it may be difficult to really get good at those things because you may not be devoting the focus you want to them. At my last job in particular, in another sign shop, I made a lot of mistakes because I was constantly running back and forth between the two printers, my computer, the front desk, AND the phone. I wasn’t focused on any of it because I didn’t have time to focus on it. It is the same principle with design — while you should try to learn as MUCH as you can about it, because you can never learn enough about anything, you want to make sure you are not overwhelming yourself either. You should ideally pick a few things you excel at (for me, it’s illustration and color theory), then be proficient at everything else.
Personally, I’m not loving the blurred lines of the industry. When I was unemployed, there were employers asking for graphic designers who could also do video production, and while I have done that, it’s not something I’m strong at. I really am not a technical person at all, so coding, Flash, Lightwave, etc. are more difficult for me. I’m very visual and do better with the still image than a moving one, so the fact that the industry is beginning to require designers to be creative AND technical terrifies me. I remember doing a tour of WHRO a few years ago for film class, and they had TWO designers: one specialized in print, and the other in multimedia (web, video, etc.) I’m sure those two jobs have condensed into one. I think some of the reason the lines are blurring is because of the economy: why pay two people to do related jobs when you can pay one to do both?
As for this class, I honestly feel like we didn’t delve into CSS/HTML and Flash as much as we needed to, but that was because we lost too much time to the snow. (This is also only ID1, and the first class is usually just an introductory class to the second.) I don’t feel adequately prepared for the design field with just this one class under my belt, and sadly, ID2 isn’t offered at night next semester. However, at least I have a basic foundation for web and media design, which will be helpful if I decide to teach myself via internet and YouTube tutorials to further my skills so that I am prepared.