Being a generalist is not a bad thing.
I was having a conversation with a friend tonight over IM and he asked me:
"So what's up with you and 3D Modeling? you about to make a career change?"
I explained to him that no, no need for career change and that 3D art can be applied to produce better experiences within software.
The question bugged me, as I can see his line of reason and it's sometimes a piece of this industry that frustrates me. As we seem to be wanting to place people into categories, I think it's the sorting nature within us all.
We're constantly triaging data and assigning categories to everything we see, touch, smell and feel. We use it in a comparison matrix style way in that "Oh you drive a Ford Edge? so that's like a Ford Territory right..?" style thinking.
The thing about being a generalist, is that you typically aren't ever one thing and you can be many. It doesn't mean every skill you acquire you become the absolute best / perfect at it, no, you typically are happy with just knowing enough to get by without coming off amateurish.
My skill matrix is simple:
- I know 10 programming languages and can code in each quite well.
- I can illustrate by hand and can sketch everything from life forms to drawing a comic book character.
- I can use 2D design tools for everything from complex software HUD/GUI's through to airbrushing models, removing backgrounds (long story about this one) and UV texture mapping for 3D.
- I can model 3D using 4 different software tools on the market today, ranging from real-life facial models through to cartoon characters (biped, quads etc).
- I can project manage, to the point where I almost went down the path for a PMBOK certification.
- I consider myself a marketer, Its an interesting space to live in and am surrounded by MBA owned industry elite whom have taught me more than I care to know (at times I wish i'd go back to university to get an MBA just to get the damn thing over and done with).
- I've used all my competitor's technologies and Microsoft's, I can honestly say no product has reached perfection :)
Point is this, being a generalist has its perks, and moving in and out of things you feel passionate about is simply about exploring, looking to cross the next mountain or simply compliment whatever it is that drives you to do what feels right.
I like to personally combine my ideas with code, design and then look to project manage others to fulfilling them. Once the idea is completed, I'm more interested in how to promote it to others, so they can share my ideas.
The trick I've found over the years, is to always assume everyone around you is 10x smarter than you. No matter how dumb you may think someone is, chances are they could surprise you.
Even George W. Bush has to have a smart piece to his story, I can't see it, but I've always hoped it lied within him somewhere..