A few days ago, Jake and I were in a business meeting where I was asked what my sweet spot was. “You know, what do you just LOVE to do? Beauty? Fashion? Automotive?”
It’s a common question to ask designers, but for me the answer is the same– I don’t have a favorite. It’s honestly the same as answering “what’s your favorite color?” Which I ALSO don’t have, because they rotate. I. love. all. the. colors.
I answered “branding”, which is definitely where I feel my ‘sweet spot’ is, at least for now, but it’s definitely not the only thing I love about design. My favorite FAVORITE thing is figuring out the style, the problem, the way to communicate the solution, or even just mapping out how A solution could take place. It’s the creative thought of it all. I get that not a lot of designers would feel this way (maybe?), but I have always taken that all too intense voracious appetite for creative thought; the EVERYTHINGNESS! that a project can be– there’s my sweet spot, at least one of my favorite spots. See? ONE OF. Can’t help myself.
I’ve had teachers tell me my ideas were “a little much” while laughing to themselves, and I’ve always felt disappointed in them because of it. Why should I not push myself? Why not explore and reiterate and try some more? Push it EVEN MORE. Turn it inside out and flip it upside down and see what that feels like for a while. Why not? What will I accomplish not pushing the boundaries of my expectations? Especially of MYSELF?
Which brings me to this Slate article that collects all the accents Meryl Streep’s done–excuse me, completely nail– over the years.
I don’t think I need to convince any of you that Meryl Streep is an artist of the highest echelon. Her performances are always so impeccable– even movies I’ve hated, I’ve still loved her in them. Seeing her tackle accents so flawlessly, I kept forgetting this was the same person. She’s someone who relishes the strength in versatility, and delivers each role to its absolute fullest. I get that I’m fangirling, but I think it’s pretty deserved.
And that’s all true and all, but then I read that she said this:
“Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.”
Never thought I’d say this, but now I see similarities through acting and branding that I never thought of before. There is a similar empathy that takes place between me and the project that I’m pretty sure I’ve been taking for granted for most of my designer-life, but I’m getting it. Working across a diverse number of styles, industries, and even client personalities makes my job so interesting across the short and long term. Few days are a like, and I am really, really happy about that.
See, my college portfolio held a lot of similar work across its pages. Different subjects, cards, posters, calendars and the what-not. I explored a variety of different flower images for each of them; but the images were mainly all botanical– if not all flowers. I had no reason to try anything differently, and when I did I was told “But you are so GOOD at using flowers! Just use those, it’ll be beautiful”– and it was, I was no longer satisfied with the project. Who takes the easy way out? Not Jenny Ambrose. Not at all.
It wasn’t until I was faced with figuring out designing for 7 different people at once, all under two weeks. That learning curve– while initially challenging–– was absolutely invigorating to overcome. I finally felt vindicated that I was more than just the “flowers and gradients” girl I always knew I was. And that I had inside of me a bridled workhorse just waiting to be unleashed!
While there are many designers, illustrators, artists, and creative people of all types that enjoy niches, all singular and comfortable, I truly savor the challenge in learning the new tool, approach, or totally foreign style. I say bring it on, I’ve got you covered.
*This image was the PERFECT representation of this post. I googled “Meryl Streep, versatility” and ended up with The Simpsons! Perfection all around.