Graphic and Media Design
The combination of a diverse skillset + the ability to learn quickly + excitable/curious personality might look great on a CV but it can be a stumbling block when it comes to making decisions on professional prospects. Amp up the excitable/curious personality trait by a few percent, and the process of defining what it is that you want to do becomes so much more difficult.
The good part is that, in reality there is an assemblage of contexts and practices that all seem equally viable. The bad part is that this assemblage as a whole might just seem plain abnormal and unconvincing (or somehow vague), ultimately - difficult to place eloquently as a tetris block within the puzzle of industries. And so a (too) diverse range of interests can result in the fear of being interested. Which, admittedly, is just plain stupid. Let’s be into things! Let’s be excited! It is okay.
With the (reasonable) pressure to specialise, I am brought to the conclusion of what I expect from this year - to halt the possibilities of illusive futures and to highlight the ones that materialise. At this moment in time, it seems possible that I could develop a career in anything from type design to creative technologies for experience design. The truth is that, with such a broad spectrum of possibilities, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle - balancing between both ends. So if inherent choice is not a possibility right now, then maybe a gradual method of elimination and realisation will work.
I think students can often be so hungry for experience that it seems possible to change one’s shape and tastes so to fit any opportunity. Yes, we are adaptable and that is great… But I hope all of us will be able to retain our core aims, even if they can be a bit fuzzy. Or otherwise - there might be opportunities that come and inspire a future that we never even conceived. So in a way, changing our minds is healthy as long as were not changing to fit where we don’t want to be.
It is good to remember that there are things that do not particularly excite me, for example, editorial, design for print or working with fashion. However, exceptions to these are possible, and I think it can be a great exercise to understand what these exceptions are made of. For example, I found out about a startup called Kniterate at a discussion panel during London Design Festival 2019. The subject of conversation was The Process of Personalisation, and the chair briefly referenced Joseph B. Pine - someone who has been prominent in defining the experience economy which is something I have been looking at for my dissertation. And so, even though the main aim for Kniterate is to change habits of fashion production and consumption, it is still of great interest to me - precisely because of the factor of innovation in terms of both hardware and software, as well as social terms of sustainability, service and economics.
In reality, my confusing soup of design passions is likely to be a result of the highly intertwined industries. I may have been under the impression that interests and skills are the same. Following a mode of If you’re interested in moving image, you develop a practice in moving image / if you have a knack for photography, you develop an interest in photography. While still relevant, this has lead me to merge parts of me that should stay separate.
Communication design is my skill, but my interests lay within the tech/digital world. Therefore, I should be offering my skills to the the industry that does not have my skills. Practically and theoretically, I have dipped into machine learning, biotech, voice assistants, interactive design, physical computing, UX/UI, etc. so I have a basic understanding of how these things work. Potentially, my most valuable asset is the ability to exist and communicate between these two nodes of technology and design.
A reasonable resolution: working in-house for a startup or technology company (for reference, Mozilla or Kano) or working in a design studio with a digital edge and/or tech-based clients (for reference, Studio XYZ or Normally). I have cared about digital production, digital spaces, ethics and futures a long time, and I can’t wait to make sure that it is what I want to be doing with my professional life. I might not have 100% clear idea of what that might look like but I am sure I will catch onto something along the way.