What are your opinions of hybrid creatives?

I'm a recent marketing graduate but I also have photography and graphic design skills. Do you think it's better to narrow your career focus to either marketing or design?

I know that for sure that I'd like to do more of visual creative tasks. Should I go full-in to try landing a junior graphic designer role for my next job?

Here is my portfolio: https://saranguyen.fi/

Replies18

  • The more multiskilled you are, the more employable you'll be. The creative industry is changing at rapid speed and I've been seeing a lot of jobs where having extra/other skills is seen as 'desirable'. I'd say to master a couple of skills to the best of your ability and as long as you're able to visually back it up/show you're capable, it'll work out better in the long run. Having more than one stream of income is really important and smart, especially in such a competitive industry!
  • @Terrence Mortell Thank you for the advice about the soft skills! I feel those can usually determine whether you land the job or not in the end.
  • @Joe Burke Yeah, it's good to be versatile and interdisciplinary especially in the competitive job market. I feel like in a smaller firm or as freelancer these interdisciplinary skills are regarded more valuable versus large companies with very specialised roles.
  • I belong to the hybrid team too! And I struggle with it, from time to time. It is hard to explain people what I do. I’m a motion designer - mainly for advertising - I direct music videos, am sometimes an editor, make live visuals for stage, do hand crafted screen printing and build wearable sensors systems for interactive dance performances. If you belong to the hybrid designer category, you are simply a very curious person, with many skills, able to wear many hats. Yes, somebody may see you as not-specialized, but to be honest It really comes down to making quality work. The fact that you are active in many fields doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll produce lower quality. You can rock it all! Or some more than others, but no skill is for nothing.
    And also, on the longer run, we may turn out being great art directors and directors, with practical experience in designing different types of content, for different purposes and using different techniques, but most importantly able to conceive and coordinate a big variety of projects .
  • Get exposed to as much as you can. Keep in mind that marketing will often dictate creativity and design. So if you understand the marketing parameters, it will greatly help in your graphic approach. it's a delicate balance. I would also recommend you also develop soft skills - communication, understanding your audience and finding your purpose.

  • If you don't tell the world what kind of work you want to do, the world will decide for you.

    That said, it's obviously important to develop any skills you are passionate about or feel will give you an edge in the job market. Ultimately however, employers will (usually) want you to give a succinct and targetted vision of yourself and your work when applying for roles.

    That is my experience at least. I have worked across branding, graphics for garments, shoot direction and digital design. I've pushed to be inter-disciplinary to keep my options open and try new things, but the lack of specialism can limit how valuable you are percieved to some.
  • So take my advice with a pinch of salt as im currently not empolyed, but the advice i have recived when appilying for jobs is be specific and have your cv be personalized to the job!

  • Glad that you @Enrico Policardo joined the conversation. I was actually trying to tag @Enrico Avesani in my last comment but apparently tagged wrong name by mistake!

    Thank you for elaborating on the discussion about consistency and how to present yourself tactically.

    On the other hand, I've heard also from a seminar that the future designer careers will be T-shaped. I've seen many positions with requirements of different skillsets that are traditionally divided into different profession (e.g. it's common to see marketing roles with requirements on some photography, video, graphic design and even coding skills nowadays). I guess it's a cost efficiency question lumping all these skills into one role but it makes the job market diffuse.





  • First of all thanks for calling me in the conversation @Sara Nguyen!

    The market is hard to navigate and decipher and what I can give feedback on is my very own and personal process made of trials and errors and a basic dose of stubbornness.

    I have collaborated with several Art Directors throughout the years, very different personalities and creative minds on projects that differed a lot from each other.

    But they all agree on a single element: they need to see in work exactly what they are looking for, not your potential, but your current work and they want to replicate it, adding possible variations.
    Obviously, I am talking from a photographer point of view.

    Goes without saying that the whole concept drives me mad.
    No one wants to make the effort to read between the lines to hire not on a disposable basis but on the basis of true creative potential and individuality. Let me elaborate on this though as what I just said might sound superficial and controversial.

    I am not blaming the individuals or the creative industry as a whole, it would be way too simplistic. What I am criticising, or more precisely, reflecting on, is that we are always pushed to churn out stuff, endless ideas, products, art, photos, videos, design, objects because the market is eating itself. The pace we operate at is, in my opinion, insane.

    There is little to no room for reflection, for personal growth and development. The zillions of awful ideas and projects we have are a fundamental stepping stone in our own personal research and need to be allowed to make mistakes - even big ones. I feel the market has become indifferent to "what it could be" favouring instead a WYSIWYG kind of approach. We live in the era of the now, that's the only thing that matters.

    We all victims of this process, from low end creative to established art directors, editors in chiefs and so on. We are all really constantly squeezed and pushed to come up with concepts ideas, things and what I feel is that the only thing we can realistically do given the pace, is just literally copy and paste. There's no time, no room, no margin for mistakes. We need to deliver, be successful and if we are not, then we are doing something wrong.

    But are we?

    I have been told many times to be too abstract, to not being able to deliver a simple, clear, unelaborated and overcomplex message.
    I have to acknowledge it's one of my limits, and one of my strengths too if you want to see it that way.

    But here's the thing: consistency pays off, always.

    Do one thing and do it a lot times. Repetita Iuvant.
    Here I say and I don't want to stick to this one simple rule.

    But that doesn't mean you cannot do a lot of different things!

    It's just that you have to be clever and very tactical in the way you edit and display them.

    As @Javier Navarro said in his reply, try to come up with different portfolios, different identities, come up with aliases and pseudonyms but do it an exercise, as a personal practice, don't let the brands and names you come up for yourself polarising and crystalising who you are.

    At the end of this possibly exhausting process try to draw a line between the common elements, the patterns, the returning themes and styles.

    Connecting those dots will ultimately allow drawing the closest idea of who you are, creatively.

    Too long of a message, and too elaborated. How unsurprising.

    Hope this mess won't make your ideas even more confused.
  • @Javier Navarro @Lisa Gray @Bram Johnson @Anna Kioumourtzi @Ruta Jane @Sylak Ravenspine @Enrico Policardo

    Thank you so much for your valuable insights! Another info that I left out in the mix, I did my bachelor's degree in law before switching to marketing so it makes my cv kind of fussy. But I guess my out of the box background makes me unique.

    I really appreciate your positive feedback on my portfolio as someone self-taught. I've been hesitant to apply for creative roles, partly because I've been discouraged back in Finland where creative recruiters won't consider candidates based on their educational background.

    I'll take these advices into considering when I'm updating my portfolio and looking for a new position for next year. If you know anyone who's hiring for junior creative or graphic designer roles in London for January 2021, feel free to connect!

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/nguyensara/
  • Hi Sara,
    Great portfolio! In my experience as a creative, working on whatever field truly resonates with you will definitely make your chances to success much higher. That said, if you are on the early stages of your career I suggest trying both at the same time and find by practice which one suits you better: in doing so you will have a better understanding of both fields, which roles make you shine and acquire skills you did not even considered.
    Also as someone who has hired, I strongly recommend having two separate portfolios (one for photography and a different one for graphic design). This might be a fuss at first but will make your applications and recruitment process much easier.
    Hope this helps!
  • Hello! I "Came out" as a hybrid a few years back when I realised that its not a bad thing that I like doing multiple things in different boxes, not that I had "fear of missing out" or was indecsive. I think your design talent will inform your marketing talent, and vice versa. I think you have to be clear of what you like most, and it seems like its visual creative tasks- but, if you land a marketing job, dont shut off your design eye and let that inform your work. Its a creative, fluid and ever changing world out there and try to get as much experience as you can- you will land your creative voice. Also, have a look for marketing positions in design firms or design positions in marketing firms.. Best of Luck!
  • Seems like more skills would be inherently better, as that gives you more flexibility and understanding when working with a team of other creatives. Have heard from others that it's better to focus on one type of role while job searching, though, as you can expend a huge amount of energy chasing everything that interests you, and that can affect the effacy of your job searching overall.
  • As a young person who is also just starting to grow professionaly, I would agree with @Ruta Jane 's comment and would also like to add that it is super important for a person to explore their potential, skills and evolve in any way possible. After all this is what makes us whole personalities. I am a fashion styling and creative direction graduate however, my first job was the one of art curator and event planning in an art gallery. I loved it and let me tell you it only gave me more insight on what I really want to do and expand my inspiration and knowledge. If I would give anyone an advice it would be, keep exploring, fight for what you love doing and do you. Creativity is fluid and labels don't really match this world, in my humble opinion. Of course, we should still be realistic and try to make a living with the one thing that we feel safe, however don't stop working on your true passion. :)
  • It is good to have your main thing that you love the most and want to do it as a job on a daily basis, focus and consistency is important, however it is good to include other skills into your main thing. This will make your work unique. See if you can find a way to focus on visual marketing including both photography and graphic design, find your specialty, so people would want to come to you for that exact thing that only you do.
  • Firstly, love your photography portfolio!
    I think narrowing your career focus is the wrong way of approaching this.
    If you wish to go for a junior graphic designer position in order to build your experience and explore further possibilities for your career then I'd say go for it. Don't be afraid to slip in a few of your photography assignments in with your graphic design portfolio, and vice-versa. It shows you have a range of skillsets which any employer would jump at because they are effectivly buying into a 2-4-1 offer with you.
    Best of luck! :)
  • Hybrid like, half-human and half-horse? :)
    I believe that the more skills you have, the more you can be better at something (duh.)
    It doesn't mean you should disperse your focus, but rather you might find helpful to use skills that are not strictly related to your job and focus even more.
    After all, what would a designer be without marketing notions? And don't you think the same designer would be a better one with some philosophy/critical thinking skills? :)

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