generalist or specialist...where do you sit?

generalist or specialist?

  • generalist
  • specialist

0 voters

Do you consider yourself a generalist or a specialist?

perhaps I should have asked some more questions.

Which do you think is more beneficial to be?

I found some interesting articles on this topic:

Good question, I think it is just a slow Sunday.

I like to say that I specialize in creativity and I can apply that to anything… so I guess I would say generalist.

I’m a Specialist a being a Generalist. :slight_smile:

It’s actually the foundation of my consultancy.

Everything from branding and brand strategy to product design (mostly footwear, but all types from men’s dress to performance athletic and everything in between, graphics, packaging, marketing, etc.


This is a good question- I’d argue that most designers would prefer to be generalists; the anathema of creativity is being boxed in. Not that being focused on a specific area automatically equals being boxed in- as long as it is the choice of the designer to concentrate in an area.

This is a challenge we have run into at our studio, people often ask us what we specialize in, or aren’t comfortable hiring our firm because we don’t specialize in their field. We explain that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to bring a fresh perspective to an industry, and some agree. We specifically started our studio so we could be far more multi-disciplinary than working elsewhere would allow.

Yo, it must be really slow sunday since its saturday :slight_smile:

Edit to include this quotation from the linked article:

The design business also needs people who know enough about all these different specialties to see the big picture - people who may not have the depth of knowledge that the specialists do, but who understand the various processes well enough to ensure that the results really do resolve the client’s problem or need.

Thats the description of an IDer if ever…

It’s all relative of course, but Industrial Designers are typically celebrated for their unique generalism–particularly in relation to their specialized sister disciplines.

Yes true most ID’ers are generalists…me included

but would you consider those who just work in one phase of the design process specialists in that particluar phase?

like; front end ideation, 3D visualisation, or a back-end engineering & realisation…?

I found a nice picture from here

its like a 3D visual of IDEO’s Tim Browns T shaped people

Generalists are best when PENNING the problem of goal.

Wow…that be me. I feel my skills are best suited at the beginning to mid of the project when the scope of things are broad.

Ironically, I hear a lot of people on these boards lament about moving into management where you most definitely are more of a generalist. I am finding I am hitting my stride and beginning to have more fun as I can focus more on a kind of work process that utilizes my generalist tendencies.

I always work from the future. :wink:

I would agree with that ip. I’m getting to to touch and influence so many more projects and work across with advertising, packaging, other product engines, in a way I was not able to do before management. The creativity is just applied across a broader spectrum… I still sketch though…

Absolutely…communication becomes more and more important when there is more ($$??) on the line.

Also, generalists = lateral thinkers.

The closest generalist/lateral discipline I’ve experienced beyond ID is “Systems Engineering.”

…any other nominations?

you can only be considerd a generlist if you have a wide body of experiance and work…that takes time…something most of you DONT have…me i got oodles.

till you take at least 3 to market from idea through distrubution your not fully fletched…still lots of bits you got to learn.

I think designers need to be generalists in their thinking patterns. It is what allows us to take two unrelated things and bring them together. That said, it also does not hurt to have a specialty or two. The difference is we can’t let our specializations become our only world view.

Any good team must have both, i don’t think it’s better to be one or the other, unless your definition of better is to move into more of a management roll. I tend to have a lot of respect for the devotion of specialists.

only 3? sure it’s not 4?

…I guess I must be a super-generalist then. By a rough count I think I’ve taken over 100 individual products to market from idea to distribution…1000’s if you count SKUs…


sku’s dont count, you know that…and yes people like you and are ARE generalists, from spead sheets to marketing plans…the whole schmeer.