Balancing Design and Music

I received this email the other day and thought I’d share my response.

Hey Mark,
I’m really enjoying Two Seekers, thanks for sharing it.
Do you have any advice on the balance between pursuing both design and music? Last year I made the decision to go independent with a steady stream of clients so I could schedule my time around traveling and learning music production. It’s been great, but being early in my design career the questions of growth and learning form being in a design team bigger than just myself always pops up. In general, how have you approached it?
Thanks for your time,

Thanks D, glad you like it.

There’s a lot to be said for putting yourself into professional situations where you’re going to grow as a designer and as a person. I think it’s important to work with people who are more experienced than you are, especially early in your career. But it depends a lot on your personality and understanding what motivates you. If you’re the type of person who is energized by the hustle and direct contact with clients, the independent route definitely has advantages.

I’d encourage you to think in one to two year blocks of time: specifically what you hope to learn, accomplish and achieve by the end of that block of time. If after a year or two of doing the independent thing, you decide that the most important areas for you to grow can only be achieved through working with a bigger team or more experienced designers, then that’s a good sign you should do that for your next year or two.

Measure your short-term decisions against what you’re trying to learn and achieve in the next year. I think this is a useful way to generalize some of what I’ve learned.

Music has always been my way to recharge and de-stress. When I was working crazy corporate jobs, I knew I’d have a few hours at night to spend on a track. That helped me get through the day. Learning music production is the same as learning any skill — make it a daily practice. If it’s something you love, this should come easily, but may mean you sacrifice other things so you have the time.

If you can do music because you love it, for yourself, it will be a life-long source of inspiration and spiritual nourishment. And the more time you put into it, the more other people will like what you create, which can be another source of motivation.

Hope this is helpful. I’d love to hear what you come up with. Send me some tracks!

– Mark

Mark Forscher is Principal of Under After, a Brooklyn-based design studio focused on crafting compelling brand identities, digital products and websites. Previously Mark was the in-house Creative Director for ABC News Digital, Newsweek Digital, and Code and Theory’s first Creative Director.