Last fall, I had the chance to work on a project with my editors at Motherboard, who were testing the waters of a physical zine. I offered to design my own page, and when I submitted that page, they realized that I actually had a print design background—and that led to me doing the inside layout for the next two issues.
I came up with a general visual aesthetic for these inside pages, including a design that took advantage of the limited color palette that they were using for each issue. And honestly, the result hung together pretty well.
And it wasn’t just design, either; when there was a gap on one of the pages, I suggested throwing together a quick alt-story-form thing, and we were able to fill the space with actual interesting editorial content rather than dead space.
It was a lot of extra work, nights and weekends, a rush of late-night energy on top of the six other things I regularly have to do, but it was the most exhilarating work that I had done in years. And this was for Motherboard, an outlet where I had previously done nothing but write.
But opportunities like that don’t always show up. Maybe at work there are concerns about territory that naturally arise; maybe some people are just naturally talented at one specific aspect, rather than many. I don’t begrudge the people that want to stay in one lane, but I worry that people who have skills or interests in many lanes are often discouraged from following multiple paths.
I don’t know what the solution to this problem is, but I feel like it’s too easy to silo one kind of creativity over another, and that to me feels really unfortunate.