In the creative industries, specialists are seen as oracles. Specialists, or one-trick-ponies as they are more commonly known, are valuable for very specific functions. The idea of mastering one’s craft has existed for centuries and within the creative industries, you will often run into this idea. As designers and creators, we are often encouraged, and almost pointed into one direction. You will find that typographic designers are only useful if you need a hand-crafted font, whilst drone cinematographers are quite out of their depth if you need a piece-to-camera. The overarching idea is you will be better at one specific skill if you are able to focus on it and master that craft. Whilst this approach can offer value, there are pitfalls. There are two key flaws in this argument.
The first being that having specialists creates silos. Silos often create poorer results. If a campaign needs to pass through six to ten different hands before it arrives with the client, they will often end up with something that is poorly assembled and lacking cohesion. This is due to the responsibility index – the scientific phenomenon stating that once we have “done” our specific function, we cast it off on to the next person. We miss things we often should see if we were to take a step back and see the wider context.
Secondly, it has been scientifically proven that the more varied skills we are able to undertake and learn, the better we will be at the original skill. This is due to the neuroplasticity in our brains. The human brain strengthens as we learn a wider variety of skills. As we undertake them, the connections in our brains become faster, resulting in a heightened ability in other tasks. It also creates new connections, creating a wider, more dense population of links. Increased connections result in increased options for neurons to link quicker.
This also causes a social and psychological reaction. As we adapt and learn new skills outside of our considered “job description”, we are able to offer more to our colleagues, employers and clients. This sets off a chain reaction: increased happiness at work, increased cognitive function, increased likelihood of physical exercise, reduced stress, reduced health risks. The list goes on.
Our advisory board member Mark Cohen recently wrote an article for Forbes, where he theorised the need for increased adaptability within the legal industry. “The complexity of business challenges requires teamwork, cross-functional collaboration, and the fluidity—both intellectual and social—to move quickly from one challenge to another.” It turns out the creative industries are no different.
From my own experience, I have found more diverse and wide-ranging skills and work to be the most rewarding. Doing one thing repeatedly certainly works for some people, but I have found my work gets better with diversity. For example, when I started at Within, I had never been a part of any motion graphics or animation projects. Now I am the first person to raise my hand and conceptualise an animation, working with Mit, Aris or Marcus to deliver the project for a client.
What I’ve learnt from all three of these very talented film and animation experts has completely changed the way I see brand projects. I now see the movement in a graphic device or in the images I choose. I recently conceptualised a report based on footage, using static shots throughout the report to show progression over time. If I hadn’t had the exposure to film and animation that I have been afforded at Within, I highly doubt the way I look at brands would have expanded in the way it has. In other roles, I would have been pigeon-holed and prompted to “stay in my lane”, but this more divergent approach is not only personally engaging but also adds to the studio’s client offering.
At Within, we have always pioneered a collaborative, cross-practice approach. That is why you will find our Film Specialist, Marcus, badgering Mit about how he can shoot films in Unreal Engine, or Karolina, a Brand Designer, perfecting metahumans for Will’s latest invention in the metaverse. Aris will be on set filming one day, animating the next, and then creating digital platforms. Meanwhile, Tolley carries on creating the first ever brand based on brain activity. On the business side of the studio, Kornelia can conduct and interview on-screen talent whilst honing an employee value proposition with our CEO, Ruxandra. Or Caitlin, our Account Manager, providing a Cinema 4D material palette, while ensuring effective project management. Sarah, our Head of Excellence, develops clients whilst managing our metaverse sister-company.
This approach doesn’t just happen, it is cultivated over years of experience.
This approach is the way we work and how we should work. It allows our studio to run efficiently and collaboratively. So if you’re interested in working with or for us, this is the identity that carries through everything we do and will always be our approach at Within. There are no one-trick-ponies in this team of proven creators and skilled advisors, we are multi-versed polymaths, often seen working outside their “job description”.
If you’re interested in working with us on a multi-faceted project, don’t hesitate to get in touch.