I’ve long been a huge fan of Dave Grohl because of his ability to switch between instruments and make it work. The first Foo Fighters album caught my imagination as a teenager because he played all the instruments and this inspired me to try to do the same in my career as a designer.
His most recent work, ‘Play’, shows him play a variety of instruments over the course of a 23 minute instrumental and is another a perfect consolidation of his skills.
From Nirvana to Foo Fighters to his films ‘Sound City’ and ‘Play’, Dave Grohl continually demonstrates his ability to create something that stretches his ability, while drawing people in. As a fan, this has long been an inspiration for the type of career I want to have — full of continuous learning in a multitude of areas. But unlike Dave my chosen field is in design, not music.
You could argue that Dave Grohl is great example of what a T-shaped person looks like. According to wikipedia ‘the vertical bar on the T represents the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, whereas the horizontal bar is the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and to apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than one’s own.’
Although Dave’s skills are vastly different to my own, his T-shaped ability is something I aspire to. He is obviously amazing a drums, but his ability to write songs on guitar, to direct films and communicate his ideas to other musicians is what makes him so special.
My ability as a designer is still in the early days, but I have dipped my toes into UI design, digital marketing, product management, UX design and user research. This has always been with the over all aim of not only becoming a really badass designer (one day), but ultimately to ensure that I can communicate with understanding, empathy and humility with those I want to collaborate with. It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see the comparison between design teams and rock and roll bands in the ways they need to communicate and collaborate.
I believe I can learn a lot from Dave Grohl’s ability to keep pushing his skills forward as well as his ability to collaborate and communicate with those around him to continually deliver wonderful pieces of creativity. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to combine all skills I’ve learnt into one piece as Dave has done with ‘Play’, but until that day all I can do is keep learning.