On being multipassionate

I’m a web designer/web developer/jewellery designer/whatever designer/content creator.

When I was growing up I had my heart set on being a veterinarian. The 7 year university course didn’t bother me too much, I was thinking of going to Edinburgh  it was going to be such an adventure! I did my work experience weeks at a vet surgery, got good enough grades in my sciences   heck, I even did a latin GCSE to help with pronunciation!

Things changed, though. I was always an anomaly in that I loved science and art. I could quite easily spend one evening poring over my science text books, then the next evening splashing paint and lettraset on a canvas. Eventually I made the decision to spend a year doing an art foundation course, rather than pursue science (at least for the time being). That turned into an art degree (which, without mincing words, was shit), during which I spent the majority of the time teaching myself to build websites and faffing around importing stuff from the USA to sell on ebay.

For the past few years I’ve been building websites, making jewellery, learning code, printing stuff, waxing lyrical about PHP, and even blogging passionately about business.

There’s a new label flying around for folks like me, we’re being called ‘Multipassionate solopreneurs’.

Sounds pretty douchey, doesn’t it?

But…

It works. And it’s true. It describes me perfectly, and has settled so much of my internal anguish.

From tiny children it’s built into us that we should follow a path, choose a career and niche down to a pre-described speciality. We should go to school, college, university, get a graduate job, get a better job, get promoted, get promoted again, settle, retire.

When I decided to leave my day job as an agency web developer, it was always my aim to combine both Finest Imaginary making with Kim Lawler Creative web design. I wanted to keep a comfortable equilibrium between the two, together but separate. There were times when I considered ditching one or the other to ‘niche down’ and become specialised.

Then it hit me.

am niched down. I am specialised.

Who else combines a boutique brand like Finest Imaginary alongside creative services and web design? Who better to work with a web design client looking for their own online presence, than someone who’s struggled through it with their own brand?

you-are-the-sum-of

Passionate about baking and social media? Write me your ‘recipe’ for facebook success. Bake me a twitter inspired cake. (Shit, sorry, that first one was so corny… forget I said that.)

Love cats as much as you love being a manicurist and making youtube tutorial videos? Hellooo! Crazy cat lady manicurist showing us cat-inspired nail turtorials on youtube, you just got branded!

Okay… so maybe I was clutching at straws with that last one, but you get my point.

How do I combine my passions? I don’t exactly make website inspired jewellery, do I?

No. I’m a multipassionate creator, and I love being part of a community of creative people. Many of my web design clients know me through my jewellery first and foremost, and the markets for all sides of my business cross over. It’s a venn diagram of awesome that makes my business thrive. I’m constantly looking at new ways to bring the things I love into my business. I’m even working on bringing some of my blog style musings into the web design side. It keeps me engaged and interested!

Ignore the precedent for specialisation, and create your own niche from the things that get you pumped!

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21 Responses to “On being multipassionate”

  1. Clare Freemantle

    I love this. Yes, yes and thrice yes! Even down to the scientist/artist bit. I get everything you said. Only I did the science degree route (shit) and put my art/music love to one side.

    Reply
  2. adrienne

    Raaaaaaaaaaah! I’m currently banging my head over what it is I do, what I want to do, all the many different varieties of pies I have on the table at any one time, and how I can either try and binge eat them all of become more selective. Well, I’m not skinny – so I guess it’s clear that I haven’t yet honed my passions. And I swing wildly around feeling bad that I have so many interests, and so many things I love to do, and the whole ‘jack of all trades master on none’ saying gets bandied around a lot, and I do often feel like I should perhaps narrow my focus……… BUT THERE’S SO MUCH I WANT TO DO! I’m so glad you’re an advocate of ‘multipassions’. :)

    Reply
  3. Vanessa

    Love it! I feel so crazy at all times because I can’t decide on the ‘one path’. My business card could read ‘actress/filmmaker/writer/illustrator/journalist/photographer/andwhateverelseishappeningrightnow’ and that is certainly not leading me to one career. I try to focus but it just doesn’t work. So, loving your new term :)

    Reply
  4. Pesky

    YES! you keep me going, kim. I’m forever being told i need to ‘narrow down’ what my ‘brand’ is – but I look at you and think NO! bollocks to that. I have a name which can encompass whatever i want to do! So why not use it to do that? And so i’m not just a jewellery website any more – I’M my brand, it’s whatever I want to do. so thanks for being so awesome and inspiring

    Reply
  5. Elizabeth @ Rosalilium

    YES! This is totally me. I have so many interests and passions – the thought of choosing just one is just unfathomable for me. Yet, it kinda scares me sometimes but I have faith that my multi-passionate nature will settle down a bit to something that makes some sense.

    Reply
  6. Angie Chan - Designer & Illustrator

    It’s very true that many of us are multipassionate. I wonder if there is a danger of spreading oneself too thinly by choosing a career that uses so many different skillsets? After all, it is said that it takes 10 000 hours to really master a skill / craft.

    Would love to know your thoughts on this :)

    Reply
    • kim

      Hi Angie,

      Great question! Let me try and answer it…

      The phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ comes to mind here. Whilst it’s probably true that you can’t develop a successful career from a combination of 10+ different niches or skills, I think it’s vital to remember that to become specialised in anything you need to either a) Niche right down, or b) combine complimentary passions to create your own ‘job title’.

      Consider my web design job, for instance. There’s a whole bunch of people out there requiring websites. Within that bunch there’s a group of small businesses needing websites. Within *that* bunch, the small business/person is a creative. That’s who I want to work with, and my combination of skills draws them towards me.

      Consider my other fake passion combinations above, too. The lover of cats who does manicures… there are *hundreds* of manicurists making youtube videos, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. One day someone thinks “oh a cat manicure would be cute, I like cats”, and they google, and they find the cat manicurist. They’re unique. The viewer shares. Niche created!

      Generally, it’s a combination of a couple of skills and a bunch of passions, rather than a bunch of skills.

      Does that make sense?

      Reply
  7. Stephanie Carswell

    This is definitely me! I love being three things (gallery owner, fibre artist and craft kit designer) but it can be pretty confusing sometimes. Especially when there’s about 10 other things I want to try NOW! I don’t see it as a bad thing though, just so long as I don’t get overwhelmed by it all and make sure I give enough time to each area. Though it does make an elevator pitch a bit tricky… :)

    Reply
  8. Diana

    THIS. Totally this. I’ve never been able to settle to one specific path, and it has taken a few years of floundering around to realise that I don’t have to. I can be and do whatever I want. I don’t think it is as important these days to pick one career path, and more and more people are becoming sole traders and freelancers. The capabilities of the internet and technology mean anything can be possible these days.

    Reply
  9. Deepa (@lazygiraffe)

    I totally get this!
    I love having different interests even though sometimes it can be pretty overwhelming. So what if being a jewellery designer who likes food, baking and Indian food doesn’t fit together all the time – it’s fun! I’ve been chasing a marketing career for some time now and having to fit into the little holes that you do have to in the industry just isn’t me. I couldn’t just be my day job, that would be dull.

    Reply
  10. Pao

    I love this! This is what I liked about my uni, that altough I was studying product design they encouraged us to take graphic design and other related courses and, of course, it ended up helping me a LOT in my projects. And it also just showed me how much I like editorial design and open my curiosity for other things like web :) I find it hard to just focus in one thing. I want to learn about everything!
    It’s nice to read something like this :)

    Reply
  11. Denise

    How refreshing,you’ve just made my day Kim! you are so right,we don’t need to put ourselves into little boxes,fly high wide and free! thank you!.

    Reply
  12. Ruth

    I can relate to this! I did my degrees in geology and a doctorate in Himalayan Geology. I am a geologist by training therefore, but now I work in Higher Education developing teaching and learning practice as my career, and I have blueeggsandtea as my creative/illustration outlet. I also did a creative writing degree a couple of years after my science PhD. When I have science with no art or vice versa, I feel stifled and frustrated, but the mix of it all is very specialist and niche. It’s not always obvious how to bring the two together, but ultimately it’s being settled internally that brings out better creativity, so I definitely need the two to function properly, even if the spheres don’t talk directly all of the time. I used to feel uneasy about my multipassions, but these days I very much see it as a strength and a talking point. I feel better for the variety, and know that it’s unique to have a variety of different passions informing each other.

    Reply
  13. Lisa

    This is so, so true. I’m also a web developer, but in addition to that, I’m a writer. There are a ton of other creative endeavors I enjoy on top of those, and I’d love to turn those into smaller side businesses. So I totally get this. Thanks for the reminder that having multiple interests and being multipassionate is a good thing!

    Reply
  14. Nabiha

    I am a 17 year old high school student from India who is passionate about tens of things. I am a writer/photographer/designer. I write short stories and am working on my first novel. I like capturing moments and editing pictures. I also love crafts and diy projects. After I graduate from high school, I am planning on opening an online store to sell hand made stuff. I would also love to go on a round the world trip if I have enough funds. You spoke my heart out. Kudos to you!

    Reply
  15. Theo

    This is and has been me all over. I’ve always been passionate about multiple things etc. I’m a blogger, writer, I’m passionate about online retail, fashion and so on. I like your idea of combining passions, it’s something I’ve thought of personally.

    Reply
  16. Lynda D'Souza

    Kim, this is exactly what I needed to hear. Being a Fashion Designer and Artist I was battling with myself to choose one but THANK YOU for stating otherwise. So nice of you to share your thoughts on this, I have quoted you in my blog post and I know this will help many others like ourselves to live life FULLY. Bless !!
    Lynda. http://www.sparrowlyn.com

    Reply

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