Society seems to be geared around being a specialist, there’s endless information about finding your “one true calling” and pouring all your focus and energy into that. Work hard, progress up the ladder and success awaits. It’s a straight(ish) path, but what if the way you’re wired means you prefer the winding road, the path less travelled.
What if your passion isn’t about just one thing, but instead you seek variety, enjoy a challenge and get excited by giving new things a go. You love exploring, pushing yourself to learn new skills and you find you can express your creativity through these new found avenues. In fact, you discover you’re pretty accomplished at the seemingly disconnected set of skills you’ve acquired. You then have the idea of bringing all those skills together into one business.
Since Make•Do Studio was launched mid 2016 there’s been some confusion as to what I’m doing. Granted, some of that may come down to my inability to explain it clearly, but even taking that into account, people couldn’t seem to get their heads around what Make•Do did. The idea that the guy they’d been dealing over the previous 14 years as Art Director at Insync Creative, could also make furniture and fix things and was actually combining it all in the one business seemed a bridge too far.
I even had one comment saying, “Why would I get a furniture maker to design me a logo?” this was from a person who knew me as a graphic designer, but would potentially stop using me because I now also make furniture. It’s like you can only do one thing at a time, and by doing both somehow diminishes one or the other. As odd as that may sound when written here, it’s been a common perception.
So, in the hope of bringing further insight as to how I tick and why Make•Do Studio does what it does, I turned to the the Internet looking for existing examples or kindred spirits.
What I found was the description below of a multipotentialite, courtesy of puttylike.com, which I felt was a most apt synopsis of who I was and why the business I was establishing offered the suite of services it does.
“A multipotentialite is a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life.
Multipotentialites have no ‘one true calling’ the way specialists do. Being a multipotentialite is our destiny. We have many paths and we pursue all of them, either sequentially or simultaneously (or both).
Multipotentialites thrive on learning, exploring, and mastering new skills. We are excellent at bringing disparate ideas together in creative ways. This makes us incredible innovators and problem solvers.
When it comes to new interests that emerge, our insatiable curiosity leads us to absorb everything we can get our hands on. As a result, we pick up new skills fast and tend to be a wealth of information.”
There it was, I found a tribe – the antithesis of a specialist, a multipotentialite. As I looked further I found that there were many, a whole community, in fact, they had claimed some impressive historical figures, like Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton and Benjamin Franklin and modern day achievers like Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey.
Of course, I’m not saying look at me I’m some kind of genius, but it’s the best description I’ve found and hopefully will begin to give some clarity to how and why Make•Do Studio exists. To me, it’s perfectly natural that a graphic designer can also install a set of shelves or build a bespoke piece of furniture. It’s the skill set of the designer, not the perception associated with the industry label that should determine their suitability to perform in a particular job, a proposition which I hope you’ll agree.
Make•Do is a multi-disciplined studio and workshop, run by a guy who’s a multipotentialite – product designer / graphic designer / maker / licensed handyman / I may add a few more before I’m done.
Label established there is a downside, what do I put on a business card?
Multipotentialite? apart from the obvious ‘wanky’ feel, it’s not in common use, so without the description there’s still the risk of confusion. Not all the slashes from product designer through to handyman – try fitting that in 90mm! Therefore, on occasion there is the need for a ‘specialist’ title and for that, Designer-maker sits comfortably with me. Even though, that too, has needed some explanation at times, it’s the most appropriate and it fits neatly under my name.
So, I think the best idea is to just get on with it, as the proof will be in the making and doing.
If you’re interested, here’s some links on the subject of multipoteniality.
TED Talk by Emilie Wapnick creator of Puttylike.com
Puttylike.com – The home of Multipotentialites
Generation Slashie: career fulfillment through greater diversity by Verity Edwards published in The Australian, April 30 2016