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Andy Rutledge

Design Pro Roundtable: Design Specialization

by Andy Rutledge on Sep 17, 2012

With design's disciplinary evolution, the topic of specialists vs. generalists is getting more and more play in the design community. Our digital industry is maturing and niches are being carved out by skilled designers according to both opportunity and apparent need; but sometimes, perhaps, merely because of professed need. What does this mean for our profession? Does this trend toward categorical specialization follow wisdom or whim? By Andy Rutledge

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R.A. Ray

R.A. Ray | Sep 17, 2012 | 2:38pm

"Alfred Hitchcock learned art direction, lighting, cinematography, and screenwriting before he became a film director. I like that model."

Amen! I'll add that Frank Lloyd Wright learned engineering, drafting, construction, and client management before opening his own architecture firm.

Ryan Rushing

Ryan Rushing | Sep 17, 2012 | 4:04pm

And Leonardo Da Vinci was awesome at, you know, everything.

James Thompson

James Thompson | Sep 19, 2012 | 12:16pm

Following along with those examples...

Michelangelo as adamant, militantly so in fact, that he was NOT a painter. Donetello, and the others were painters, he was a sculptor first and foremost.

I believe even he would claim to have been a sculpture 'specialist' while more than completely competent with the brush.

Ryan Rushing

Ryan Rushing | Sep 17, 2012 | 4:02pm

I have a hard time believing any designer learns to specialize. We are generalists by nature.

Matt Riopelle

Matt Riopelle | Oct 1, 2012 | 11:31pm

Aarron Walter had a newsletter post go out today where he talks about discussing specialization with Andy Clarke. Thought it pertinent to the discussion.

UX Design is bullocks

Andy Rutledge

Andy Rutledge | Oct 2, 2012 | 2:31pm

Thanks Matt. Excellent link. And even there, the specialization was referential to and required broad, general understanding. Even expertise.

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