Specialist or Generalist in Your Career as Digital Artist?

One of the most common questions I get asked — and this week alone I’ve received a lot of email about this is exact question:

“Should I be a specialist, or should I be a generalist?”

This question applies to you — whether you’re a designer, an FX TD, animator, you work in video games, or you create portraits of celebrities to sell on Etsy. Whatever you do, as a creative artist, we always wonder if by specializing or “nitching down”, we’re eliminating the opportunity for other work and jobs.

I think the misconception is that by specializing, you’re really saying no to everything, except for a very specific job, and that it’s going to be a massive massive risk.

I wanted to cover this question and reveal a lot of insights to not only put this topic to rest, but also how you can apply these mindsets to what you’re doing, to position yourself as the obvious expert.

Youtube comments:

Srikanth rathod
Wow great information
What i am getting from this is: learn to do tsunamis xD Jokes aside this video is very useful to me, i am studying to become a 3d artist at a academy (1 year done 2 to go). To specialize but don't forget the rest, make what you do best and try to become the go to for that in particular. to be more noticeable to ppl looking to hire for a specific problem is going to be very useful for my learning path. Thank you for the tips in the video.
Cenk Gökova
Awesome video!!!! you broaden my vision thanks a lot. İ have a question and cant find an straight answer and dont know much people in the industry. İ'm a college sophomore studying advertising. İ got in to 3D and i'm loving it so much that i cant even begin to describe. İ want to be able to do my own animations with my stories and cool animations so i want to start as a generalist and then see what my path shows to me. My plan is to focus on modelling for now after getting to a decent level i'm going to move to texturing, rigging and then lightning, rendering and stuff. İs learning concepts one by one is a good way to learn?
Amazing video although that's now how things are going for me... I started out years ago wanting to become a 3D vehicle artist for games and I still want to and will always want to and I've worked on a lot more things excluding that , including modeling things other that cars, in different styles,editing, a bit of music and sound mixing, drawing and animation, yet I think I'll from start to finish be a vehicle artist ,won't say I ever was a generalist even if know my way around other things enough. I hope I find a job soon it's not that saturated
Samuel Watterson
great thanks
jas karan
Sir are u busy u don't reply me
Nicola Borsari
Hey Allan, great video as usual. Just a question, what would you say about comp? It's a bit more difficult to "specialize" on that
Ignacio Lopez Larsen
really great video, from begin to end
Compu Tron
Being pigeon-holed is a great thing when your skills are in demand, but not so great when you have 40,000 other competitors that drive down the market rate. I knew plenty of people who really wanted to be concept artists at high profile companies. That's a specification where the competition is insane and the demand is extremely low. Full red ocean.
prasenjeet Anand
Can I say (3d Generalist/Animator) ? Awesome video thanks sir..
Jean-Claude Conradie
Absolutely Brilliant Allan. There's so many key points, I'm going to be re watching a few times. Thanks so much!!
great video! thanks
Isis Sousa
Hi Allan! first of all, thanks a lot for taking the time and creating these podcasts/videos. They have been very helpful to me and certainly many others who would like to make it on the CG industry! Good points of the much talked subject of generalist vs specialist. I wish I had listened to this many years ago :-D I have a weird career path where I have been a specialist in print advertisement design, specialist in characters/portraits for book covers and now started to expand my skills and started learning painting environments and I feel as thought I am becoming more of a generalist at the moment, to discover new techniques and where I can excel - sort of self-discovery path! I can relate to all the ups and downs you stated. Much success to you and thanks again! :-)
please translate turkish and english translation
Parth Prajapati
Awesome sir clear the mind and changing my perspective Good thinking
Renat Mansurov
Thank you!
I think I know this guy. Sounds familiar. Just kidding! :) Great video as always. Thanks Allan.