The Gapingvoid Email - free insights & inspiration three times a week!
Jack of all trades, master of none – total tosh
“Jack of all trades, master of none”. Total tosh.
When I was on my Foundation year at Art school we got to try out lots of different skills. Painting, Drawing, Photography, Typography, Design, Silk-screening, Animation, Sculpture, Fashion… it was the most exciting year of my life at that point. Then at the end of the year, we were told we had to specialise in something. Oh, the disappointment.
I didn’t want to pick one thing. I wanted to do it all.
I have always had a problem with this human conditioning that we need to get good at one thing. The Malcolm Gladwell 10,000-hour rule. I don’t agree.
I understand the need for specialists, but I think it’s important to stay curious and keep exploring other areas. As they say “If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.”
Some of the best ideas come when you take two opposites and smash them together. If you’re designing the car of the future, instead of researching the history of car manufacturing, or sticking pictures of futuristic car designs on your wall for inspiration, how about studying insects under a microscope. Or watching a bunch of fashion shows.
Human Beings are such incredible things, we are capable of staggering achievements, so why limit ourselves. Surely, we were designed to be limitless?
There is a whole amazing world out there waiting to be discovered. Don’t look at it through a pair of binoculars, but perhaps better through the lenses of the Tridacna Gigas (or giant clam). It has literally thousands of eyes all over its body, constantly looking in every direction.
One polymath I especially admire is Bjork. Musician, Actress, Producer, DJ, and oddly enough, an active member of a knitting group in Reykjavik. I’m sure it’s because of her vast range of interests that she has created so many varied albums. Making breakthrough videos too. Willing to collaborate with a cacophony of different talents. Imagine the cross-pollinating going on inside her head.
If you’ve got another 9 minutes to spare, have a look at this little film I made during the recent lockdown. It’s a bit more in-depth on the above.
Graham Fink is a bit of a legend in the ad business. He first made his mark as a ridiculously young protege of the great Paul Arden of Saatchi & Saatchi fame, in the golden age of British advertising of the late 1980s. His 1989 British Airways ad is STILL taught to students all over the planet and was HUGELY influential at the time. Right now he’s in the middle of relocating to New York as a multimedia Artist and Chief Creative Advisor of Asteria, after serving a long spell as ECD (head creative) of Ogilvy China and then a quick year in Seattle.