Designer Retirement: Finding my Niche

February 2, 2012 - By

A strange thing happened a month ago.

For the last 12 years I’ve been a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ as far as production goes. I graduated from Graphic Design and took a post grad in Interactive Multimedia. For three of the following years I worked for myself, and literally did every single task from the inception of a project to its launch. While “Jack” is a master of none, I was very happy with the work I was doing.

When I started at Thrillworks I was hired as a Web Designer, with front end coding responsibilities – it was such a relief to focus on production again and stop doing account work. Finding a niche is very relieving – and that’s totally how this new job felt.

The kinds of clients and work we were getting meant doing a lot more code than design in my first year, and I started to flex my left brain a lot more. If you’re a designer you might identify with these seasons of work, and like you (probably) I started to yearn for more design. I asked for it, and ‘the suits’ gave it to me.

The Problem

So happy ending right? NOPE! It was terrifying. I found that after a year of coding I was having trouble making design decisions.

Code simply works or it doesn’t. You compare your requirements to your product and you know if it’s good. Design is subjective. How do I know when I’m done picking my pallat? Stack Overflow can’t come to your rescue here.

Design is a “use it or lose it” skill, and I am starting to lose it.

I have been chasing two very different disciplines for a long time now. One traditionally technical, one creative. Both change a lot. To keep up with design trends is very challenging. To keep up with the ever changing HTML5 / CSS3 / jQuery landscape is no easier.

The Change

I met with my Creative Director for some career advise, and we came to the conclusion that I should follow my passons, hang up my designer hat for now and pursue Front End development 100% for a while. That was four weeks ago, and it’s been amazing.

The next day I felt like a new man. It feels like my role as a Thrillworker is a lot clearer. I immediately started making lists and gearing up. A few back-burner ideas began to solidify as actual plans – it’s been a wild ride.

Jack is Alive and Well

I am thankful for this new focus, and for the comfort in knowing that Jack isn’t going anywhere. I still tinker with my own site (update coming any day now!), and my design background is hugely important in front end coding.

I’ve been in my “niche” for a month now and I’m already feeling like keeping up with the three basic web languages qualifies as being a jack of all trades! There’s enough to HTML, CSS, or JavaScript to keep someone busy full time. I’m not ready to focus that narrowly yet.

Find focus. It’s not new advice.

“If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both.” – Native American proverb

Categorized in:

This post was written by ArleyM