Accepting a Multi-Disciplinary Stance in a Niched Industry

Bruce Lee doing a hook kick. Illustration by Nor Sanavongsay.

Bruce Lee doing a hook kick. Illustration by Nor Sanavongsay.

To paraphrase Bruce Lee, be formless like water, so you can assume all forms. As our world grows smaller thanks to the connection afforded to us through technology, niche marketing has become increasingly important. Since someone halfway across the world can provide a service for someone 3,000 miles away, honing in on one skill seems to be all the rage. As a jack-of-all-trades master when it comes to designing, coding, and illustrating, my story of versatility still proves there’s a value in extensive experience, inclination, and education.

From Comics to 90s Web Design

I first pursued my passion for art back in the early 1990s as I attended college for an Illustration Major related to comic book illustrations, I dreamt of becoming a big-time comic artist; one of those artists whose work graces the magazine racks worldwide. Pursuing that passion for 2-years in college, by 1994, I decided to wade into the world of website design and development as it become more prevalent. Sidetracked, I began assisting teachers with HTML, inspiring me to switch major to interaction design.

Similar, yet different to comic illustration, I was now learning graphic design, scripting in Director and later Flash, video production and 3D animation. Another 3-years later, I graduated, immediately working for a variety of companies and agencies that oversaw my contributions in web and interactive media.

Hanging Onto Versatility

Still, I continued to write, draw, and learn about visual storytelling while honing in on website development skills. In 2000, after I was unexpectedly laid off, I took the opportunity to fly to LA and to learn more about film making. Returning home to continue website development for the next 10-years, by 2010, I felt something tugging at me. I moved my family to San Francisco to pursue working in Product Design, which was a hot role in the tech industry. Someone who could span their skills in multiple disciplines to help fast moving companies grow even faster.

Well, as fate would have it, I have been here ever since. As an innovative hub that attracts the most forward-thinking and multi-disciplined people from around the world, I have been praised for my range of skills from design and code, to illustration. Previously plagued by multiple loves for a variety of different skills and trades, the creation of a product design industry rooted in technology was looking for someone with my skillsets.

There is Value in Large Scale Passions

Always feeling like being great at a few things, as opposed to exceptional at one thing, was my downfall, this story proves that with innovation, new roles and requirements pop up every day we can’t possibly anticipate in the present.

I am able to spread my skills across the art and design spectrum simultaneously, while enjoying what I am creating. Open-minded and receptive, I allowed my innate passions to meld together and move myself towards a future that was right for me.

Although I wouldn’t necessary say being versatile is helpful nor harmful, I want people everywhere to still feel confidence and motivation in their slew of skills. Sometimes, niched perfection isn’t what’s required to be essential for the job.

Nor Sanavongsay