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Focusing in Graphic Design (opinions?)


I just finished watching this short video and it prompted a question in my mind about focusing my design skills in one niche.

At the moment things are fairly generic, a bit of logo design here... some website design there... an iPhone app UI design and so on. I do enjoy the breadth that I have, however I'm not too sure if it is the best thing to be doing for the long term. I'm nearly 19 and wanted to start thinking (not practising yet) about what and if it would be a good idea to look at specifying my design skills in one area. I;m not too sure... maybe it is a good idea that I stay this generic for a few more years in order to be certain of what direction I would like to go, and maybe remain fairly generic.

Anyway, what do you think I should do? What's your personal experience in specializing in a speciifc niche? Good/Bad/mixed results?

Thanks in advance.


Staff member
There is a saying... jack of all trades, master of none.

My view is simple, it's better to be good in one area than try and spread your wings over lots of areas... at least in work terms.

I can play around with html/web design, do logo's, graphic design, photography etc but my main area of expertise is product design or more precisely the 3D side of it so that's what I advertise as my main services. Mind you having knowledge of the other fields doesn't hurt as they all pretty much rely on the same fundamentals.

In terms of work, well having more areas to work with can potentially bring in more clients, usually for one off jobs, but by specialising you're more likely to get returning customers. Specialising also gives the option to charge a slight premium on your services over the multi disciplined approach, if you're paying for a specialist they're supposed to be better than a 'designer' at their specific work after all.


I'm in a similar situation with web design, development, branding etc and I've always been keen to pursue a multi-disciplined path, however, there are some drawbacks to this which have left me second guessing this decision recently. It's great to be able to work on different projects and I love learning about new things but there are times when I wish I could have spent a bit more time learning about a particular technique or a new piece of software. Occasionally a client might ask me to do something that goes a little bit above my skill level and it's frustrating to have to go off and find out how to do it instead of just being able to say yes.

In the future I'm going to be specialising in design because whilst I am quite competent in some areas of graphic design/illustration, there are areas that I need to improve on which I don't have time to do because I'm learning something new for a different skill set.

I personally think it's all about how you market yourself, and more importantly, the clients you attract. If you attract lots of clients that want things doing that you've already learned then you're in a much better position than someone who can do a lot more but only in one area. For instance, if you needed a website doing and all you wanted was a small static site with an top notch design then it makes more sense for you to hire the designer who can do the basic coding required and give you a great design, than hiring both the designer and a web developer. However, if you want to go after the bigger clients then you'll probably want to specialise in something because you'll need to have very high standards to compete with other people.

One thing that you do get from being a jack of all trades is the ability to work out what you truly enjoy. Lots of people find it very difficult to work out what they want to do because they don't try the things they might like. There seems to be this strange idea that you pick something from a young age and that's what you're going to do for the rest of your life... Something that I'm certain of now is that I want to specialise in digital art, because I enjoy it so much more than everything else. And everything else I've learned will allow me to take on the odd job here and there if I need to and some of the skills and knowledge can be used with each other, like photography and design, so it definitely wasn't time wasted.