Many artists have interests in more than one area. We can train our powers of skills acquisition and problem solving on many fields. There is the option to excel in multiple fields and there are examples of how this has worked out well for some. This is called being a polymath or a Renaissance Person or is sometimes playfully referred to as multi-classing, with a hat-tip to role playing games.

Leonardo da Vinci

What we don’t see are the millions of geniuses who squandered their powers through lack of discipline, jumping at each new opportunity regardless of what discipline it was in. I’m not saying that many geniuses aren’t capable of success in multiple disciplines. I’m saying that attempting to do so can risk a resounding success in any single field. Beware obscurity. No one wants to become a Renaissance Person that no one has ever heard of.

“I wonder how many people get sidetracked from their true calling by the fact that they have a talent to excel at more than one artistic medium”- Twyla Tharp

Dedication to any field requires time and effort. Fields are highly specialized these days. We’re not in the era of Benjamin Franklin where his work in science could be passed along by his political contacts to other scientists. That may have worked at the time because the world was smaller and because so many scientists were also working in multiple fields. It doesn’t work today. Every moment you’re not spending on your primary field you’re eroding your chances for success in that field. Take care, also, that diversification isn’t simply a lack of commitment to a particular field.

With fair warning given, let’s now speak of the Renaissance Person in Part II.