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Jack of All Trades, Master of None?

Graphic Design (or any other art based service such as photography, interior design, etc.) is a study in balance. Designers must balance artistic ability with business ability. Designers must also keep designs fresh and compelling but simple and concise.

One grey area many self-employed designers will likely face is what type of services to offer. Now a competent designer will certainly have the principles of design squared sway but that does not mean he or she will be able to effectively (or competitively) design everything a client may need. So the question is, do you focus on one or two types of design, say just printed projects like business card, brochures, and posters or do you expand to cover websites, animation, and photography. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that more and more designers are mastering multiple skills such as print, web, photo, and multimedia.

The decision to focus your talent and energy on a select few jobs or expand to cover many is a personal and often complicated one. Consider the fact that most designers would rather turn out quality work from a few categories rather than mediocre ones from a multiple categories.  Also, bear in mind that you can always coordinate with other designers to cover different area of expertise. Of course, there are those out there who are perfectly capable of mastering all of these categories but just ask yourself  if you favor quality over quantity or vice versa. Spreading yourself too thin just for the sake of being able to add to your list of services is pointless if your work suffers.


  1. ddunnema wrote:

    This is an interesting point you raise and frankly I don’t know the answer but I think that this is a good reason to work in teams. So while you might not have the skills to effectively perform each task a job might require maybe you might focus on one area and pass the rest off to someone else in your team. There are some who can do it all but sometimes its best as an individual to focus your energy.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink
  2. hopeful1 wrote:

    I think that’s the new dream of large companies, is to find a designer that does EVERYTHING, they will ever need, because in their minds it is all related. But that is putting a lot of pressure on any designer. Although we may get a wide range of experience in many fields, designers know what specifically they want to do in their field. Like animators could be character modelers, texture mappers, lighting designers, etc. Designers have similar types of divisions.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink
  3. thecheshirekatt wrote:

    I was actually thinking about that today, I was working on a re-design on a magazine and I was thinking about how I would much rather be designing a book or CD/DVD cover. I definitely think business that have designers need teams where everyone has a job they do well so that everything gets done well.

    Monday, November 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  4. sloredo wrote:

    I think its important to know how to do as much as possible. That way if a client asks you to do something or someone on your design team is unavailable, you can fill in. The more you know how to do to well, the more likely you will be to get a job, and keep it if cuts are made.

    Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink