Creative design: Narrow down or diversify?

The Digital Revolution. We are in the middle of it. In this day and age of rapid developments, should one specialise in one thing (popular or niche), or stay ahead of the curve and learn a bit of everything as to stay up-to-date with skills and market demands? Specialisations might disappear overnight, and “a little bit of everything” is like “a lot of nothing”. So what’s best?

As a visual designer/artist trying to get a foot in the door I struggle with this question a lot. ‘Visual design’ is a broad concept. It can mean an illustrator, graphic designer, 3D artist, typographer or much more. Moreover, the concept is increasingly more fluid with all the possibilities emerging. Rather than focus on the technique (Photoshop, InDesign, etc.) or form (3D, brochure), it might be better to focus on content and style. They don’t change with every new software package. Besides, anyone can learn Photoshop, but not everyone can create original artwork.


My goal is to create something original. It depends on the context how far you can go. Sometimes you need to fit into a style guide, sometimes you need to create buttons and banners where the creative possibilities are minimal. Sometimes you need to make concessions working with other people. Sometimes you need to convince a non-creative executive of your non-conventional approach. Such is reality.

Within those constraints, in a project I will always try and look for:

  1. What already exists – how have others done it?
  2. How can it be different, original?
  3. Good concept/idea
  4. Is it clear and is it beautiful?
  5. Finishing touch: details, subtleties, layered; does it “work”?

Beggars can’t be choosers; not many design projects grant total creative freedom – unless you’re a writer or children’s books illustrator or something, but even then concessions will have to be made somehow. As far as I’m concerned that is the charm of being a creative: working together can – if chemistry allows – create magic!

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