Growing up, we're often told to choose one profession, study hard, and stick to that path.
It starts with those "Career Days" in elementary school, where we're exposed to various career options. In high school, we're urged to pick a major and commit several years to it, with the expectation that it will be our lifelong career.
But if you're a student or early in your career, going all-in on a single specialization can limit your opportunities for exploration.
To experience rapid growth and gain fresh perspectives, you need to embrace multidisciplinary learning.
WHAT IS MULTIDISCIPLINARY LEARNING?
Multidisciplinary learning is a method of learning that involves exploring ideas, topics, and viewpoints while drawing from skills in multiple fields. Researchers have been investigating the benefits of multidisciplinary learning (aka interdisciplinary learning) since the early 2000s.
Every job demands a unique set of skills, and each new role you take on adds more tools to your toolbox. When you diversify your experiences by working in different industries, you're engaging in multidisciplinary learning. As a result, you can start to approach your craft in innovative ways.
HOW TO BE A MULTIDISCIPLINARY CREATIVE
Now, let's talk about how this applies to creative professionals, like artists, illustrators, or designers.
You've probably heard the advice to "niche down" or "focus your content on a specific topic." I'm not suggesting you abandon that advice. Having a niche offers many benefits, and I'll discuss that in a future post.
What I am proposing is that you can keep your focus on specific topics while broadening your approach across multiple disciplines.
You can incorporate multidisciplinarity into your creative journey in two ways:
Broaden your creative expression methods 🎨📸🧵
Experiment with different mediums like acrylics, watercolors, digital illustration, songwriting, jewelry making, photography, or crocheting.
Expand your sources of creative inspiration 🏄♀️📕🎧
Try out non-creative activities like surfing, hiking, watching films, reading books, attending talks, or listening to podcasts.
HOW I PRACTICE THIS AS AN ARTIST
I've spent years honing my niche, which is in lettering and illustration.
Specifically, I create art inspired by everyday life along the Southern California coast. My illustrations often feature cute drawings of seagulls and cats, paired with hand-lettered phrases that celebrate our coastal cities.
My "why" is to bring a sense of calm and uplift my community.
To embrace multidisciplinary creativity, I occasionally step out of my comfort zone in the digital space and work on analog projects, like painting on canvases, surfboards, or denim jackets. I've dabbled in pottery and jewelry-making, explored video filming and editing, and even practiced the piano.
Like many creatives today, I draw inspiration from fellow illustrators and lettering artists through social media. But I also seek inspiration in nature by going surfing, hiking, and cycling. I also do yoga to connect with my body, read memoirs and business books, and listen to Japanese music.
All these activities become creative inputs to help me make connections and think outside the box.
Like many things, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a multidisciplinary creative.
The key is to stay curious and open to new experiences.
If you're eager to dive further into your multidisciplinary creative spirit, consider these questions:
How have you explored multidisciplinary creativity in the past?
Was it during your time in art school, while working on a passion project, or when you first started a creative hobby?
- How did these experiences allow you to tap into multiple skills and interests? How did it make you feel?
This is part one of a three-part blog series where I'll be sharing my thoughts on the advantages of being a multidisciplinary creative and how you can become one too.
If you have additional insights, feel free to share them in the comments below! 👋