Many designers, like myself, cross boundaries between design disciplines. Often, this is because we have to - design is not always the most financially viable of career choices. But sometimes it is because we want to.
My Design Career Path
My own design career path is rooted in a 2D and 3D foundation program, followed by years working in an architectural firm (where I was NOT an architect), followed by a masters degree in Industrial Design at Pratt. My early career experience after graduate school focused on tabletop and lighting design. (The image here is some drinkware I designed while working for west elm). Since then, I have had the good fortune of designing a wide range of products. Unlike some designers who pick a lane and stay in it, I'm all over the road. (And I like it like that!)
In addition to running Pico Design, where I wear the many hats of running a small business, I also teach Product Design at Montclair State University, and do freelance product design work. I am scattered, for certain, but I believe that this "cross training" helps each of the areas I work in.
As I meet more independent creative men and women, I find that I'm not alone. Especially in my current world of jewelry design, a saturated and competitive arena, designers often have two or three other creative endeavors going simultaneously.
One jewelry designer colleague has an amazing daily painting practice that she feels balances out her more sculptural approach to jewelry. Some have "day jobs" either in the same professional area, or sometimes in something wildly different, like finance. Many of my creative colleagues are women, and a good portion of them have kids. This also requires another "hat".
So, What's the Secret?
The common thread among all of these successful people is that they are able to both compartmentalize and flow. They can focus on a single task for a given period of time, and move into something else seamlessly, taking the best lessons and energy from one activity to the next. And they can mentally step back when they need to, to let those skills cross pollinate.
So how do you wear multiple creative hats and keep the focus you need when and where you need it?