The Power of Being Multi-Hyphenate

We're typically taught to think about our career path in terms of specialization; finding your niche, stating your job title, answering the never ending cocktail party question..."What do you do?" 

We're told to not just be a photographer, be a commercial product photographer. Don't just be a graphic designer, specialize in brand identity graphic design.

I'll push you to think about specialization in a different way.

How can you specialize not through your technical ability alone but through your unique combination of skills, interests, and knowledge?

This is my idea of being multi-hyphenate.

By leveraging a range of skill sets and the interests you have, you stand out with specialized abilities.

You don't have to be the best photographer. But you might be the only photographer - chef with a deep knowledge of sculpture.

That combination gives you a unique perspective and a pool of references that very few others have. 

The projects you envision with that combination will have your personal touch infused in them. Something no one else could do.

Embrace the Uniqueness of Your Creative DNA.

The range of skills and interests you posses form your creative DNA. It's the combination that puts your fingerprint on anything you make. Have you noticed how certain artists just have a certain influence that seems to come across in everything they make? That's their creative DNA infused into every project they touch.

Pharrell is great example. There's that certain Pharrell signature that comes across in his music, fashion, and art direction. Donald Glover too, he didn't just pursue music, he also wrote, acted, and directed. His work cuts across different fields but it always has that touch of Donald Glover in it - a little playful but with a direct statement to it. 

Tap into those things that make you, you. Don't discredit curiosities because they don't align with whatever you think your "niche" is. Your ability to weave together different disciplines and perspectives is how you find your originality.

Make Unique Connections.

Magic happens when you mix ideas that other people wouldn't think to mix. A technique from painting applied to interior design. Your knowledge of biology mixed with graphic design.

What's the weird and specific knowledge or references you have that no one else does? Maybe it's something you studied but ended up not pursuing as a career path. Maybe its something from your family history or your childhood.

By drawing insights and influences from a range of areas of your life, you can bring a fresh take to your work.

Better Navigate the Increasingly Fast Pace of the Creative Industry.

The creative industry is constantly evolving. That's what makes it creative...

But I think we're in an era that moves way faster than ever before.

We're under more pressure to deliver a stream of new work and projects. The competition for attention is higher and to stand out you have to bring something different. Following trends drowns in the ocean of new work that's published every day.

Embracing the idea of being multi-hyphenate doesn't necessarily mean you hop from one thing to another but rather gives you the freedom to experiment and test new ideas using the tools at your disposal. 

AI is the big topic of conversation right now. We're going to see a wave of derivative, AI driven "artwork" popping up everywhere. Maybe it will put some creatives out of work. But I lean on the side that those who can apply their uniqueness and infuse their humanity into their work, will end up thriving even more.

Evolve as you go, don't stagnant in the pursuit of specialization. 

Cultivate a Unique Audience.

We're in an era of personal brands. I kind of hate the term but I understand what it conveys. In the ocean of creatives and personalities out there, the unique combination that makes you, you, is why people are attracted to what you do.

Your story resonates. Your influences resonate. Most importantly, the dynamics and contradictions that make you human resonate; and is ultimately your biggest advantage.

Our digital lives are shaped by tightly controlled, algorithmically driven silos. Our music is recommended, our social feeds are curated, and our advertising is targeted.

If your work can break through those silos, you might find a new and unique audience that didn't exist before. By weaving together two ideas that might not otherwise make sense you can find new lanes. 

The Overall Idea I'm Trying to Convey.

Defy whats viewed as boundaries and embrace being multi-dimensional. Blend your passions. Mix your skills. Clash cultures.

The power in being multi-hyphenate is in the power of being human. We're not one dimensional and we're not defined by a job title.

Dig into your past, amplify your weird interests, and be open to exploring new curiosities. Suppressing them under the name of specialization is a mistake. Those curiosities are threads to pull on that lead to your next evolution.

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