Lacking Focus

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Back in art school, multiple instructors gave me the same feedback while reviewing my senior portfolio: “It’s good, but it lacks focus.”

They were right. My work was a collage of divergent interests: Web and interactive design, print and identity work, custom fonts, illustration and even a couple of Flash games. It reflected the winding journey I’d taken from amateur cartoonist to loudmouthed interface designer.

Their advice: Pick a thing. Focus. Streamline your “brand.” Otherwise, companies won’t know what to hire you for.

That might have been excellent advice for others, but it wasn’t for me. Every step forward in my career so far has been at the intersection of two or more seemingly unrelated disciplines. Whatever skills remained that didn’t hold my interest, cooperate with one another or yield significant rewards just naturally fell away.

I’m thankful today that I chose not to focus back then. Time, opportunity and experience have proven far more effective editors.