A jack of all trades yet a master of adventure

Jack Freeman


There is a recurring theme in the world of design, that upon graduation you should specialise in one particular area and become an expert in that niche. Many designers feel that they need to focus on a single discipline, whether it be graphic design, animation, illustration, or UX design, in order to establish themselves as true masters of their craft. While there’s certainly some truth to this idea, on the other end of the spectrum are the often haunting words – “Jack of all trades and a master of none”. The most jarring words that I would want to hear as a graduating designer, there is this feeling that regardless of the interests you have, if you were leaving university not knowing specifically what you really really wanted to design then you were a step behind.

Yet that being said, in that unique state you are often left with a truckload of openness, a sprinkle of spontaneity and an unrelenting curiosity – A mighty and potent concoction.

What I started to learn is that when this concoction is your fuel, your design process becomes a unique craft in its own right. Your process is as individual to you as your specialised niche. It’s a culmination of every book, lecture, hike, party, concert or interaction you’ve ever been a part of. All the experiences that make you, make your work. The design process is an adventure in its own right and NEEDS you to be a jack of all trades. Pulling from your unique knowledge, skills, and experiences across a variety of design disciplines – to trust your instincts, take risks, and introduce the outlook on projects that are unique to you.

Seek adventure to expand your mind and design processes

As the saying goes, a jack of all trades is someone who has a much broader range of skills and experiences, rather than being an expert in just one area. While often seen as a weakness, we should be shifting this mindset to how powerful this can be within the world of design. When you are someone with such a diverse range of experiences, you bring a unique perspective to your work. That vial of openness, spontaneity and unrelenting curiosity doesn’t evaporate at 5:30pm every day and nor should it. Take it with you everywhere you go and fill your design process with it. Embrace your multidisciplinary interests and let them guide you as you explore new ideas, challenge yourself, and innovate in your work. Don’t limit yourself to a single niche or discipline – instead, use your diverse range of skills and experiences to create something truly unique and compelling.

Of course, it’s not always easy to be a jack of all trades. It can be challenging to keep up with all of the different areas of design but if you can embrace your curiosity and your willingness to explore new things, you’ll find it can be incredibly rewarding. 

So go ahead and try your hand at print design, illustration, product design, or any other area that interests you. You might be surprised at how much you can learn, and how much it can inform your work as a designer. In the end, being a jack of all trades doesn’t mean being a master of none, but rather being a master of creativity, adaptability, and curiosity – it’s about being a master of adventure.