Before I start, this is a very controversial subject. Some people think that you can learn everything while others think that you should specialize in exactly one thing. This is merely an opinion, from which you are allowed to take what you want.
The Pitfalls of Doing it All
While I was in school, I was always amazed by those who seemed like they could do it all. Branding and identity, web design and development, motion graphics, social media, marketing… the list goes on and on. When I read about these designers, I wanted to model myself exactly like one of them. They seemed to be able to do all of the cool stuff and were never short of a client. While this may be true, theres a big problem with this theory. Being the best. None of those designers were the best, and they never will be.
When you can do it all, you can never be the best at one thing. By spreading yourself over so many areas, you will never be able to be fully developed in one area. All areas of design are constantly growing and all develop at different rates. When you are finally able to catch up in one area, all other areas fall behind in skill level. By spreading out and learning a little about each, you will always be several years behind in all areas.
By spreading yourself over so many areas, you will never be able to be fully developed in one area.
Find a Focus
The best part about school is you have many opportunities to find something you enjoy doing. Experiment with everything. Find an area you enjoy the most and focus your attention on that (that doesn’t mean stop trying everything else). You may continue find something that you enjoy more. The main goal of school is to find and learn things about all areas, that way you can decide what you enjoy the most.
Carry Over Knowledge From Other Areas
One thing that it took me a while to figure out was that learning one area doesn’t necessarily mean you’re wasting your time on them. Learning motion graphics can help your 3D perception for building logos, or help with transitions in web design. There is always something you can carry over from one area or another, sometimes it just takes a little while to understand what.
Become the Best You Can Be
Once you’ve found your niche, do everything you can to be the best at it. Don’t ever stop learning about it. But the best part is, if you’ve found the area you enjoy the most, you won’t have to try to keep up, you’ll want to.
A Final Note
Being a designer isn’t about trying to be the jack of all trades, its about using your skills to create a better world, to help others. Design shouldn’t be about competing to be the best designer, or the one who has the most skills, it should be about combining the best skills you have with the best skills of others. Without a focus, you will never be able to make the difference that you potential could.