Note — Jul 17, 2022

The Value of Being a Professional Amateur

I initially read this one for myself first, thinking that it might end-up here as a short but instead I was smiling, nodding my head, and highlighting all the way. In this interview, Justinien Tribillon (what a name! what a bio!) beautifully explains why he’s a “professional amateur,” the importance of curiosity, the value of curation, recombinatorial creativity, lazyness, generalists, and multi-disciplinarity.

Also today, I listened to my friend Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino being interviewed by Julian Bleecker on the Near Future Laboratory Podcast where they talk about a number of things, including consulting, the developer stack, design, writing, and working laterally. I’m attaching this with Tribillon above because it’s something that fascinates me; people working across disciplines and how their ‘primary toolkit’ (urbanism, design, coding, architecture, law) becomes a lens and a language to walk across these discipline and make sense of them.

I’ve realized that when I sit down and type something, my thinking and thoughts, develop in a way that isn’t possible when you are talking out loud or thinking in your head. I tend to walk a lot to get ideas. But you need to write down stuff at some point and there’s a process of unfolding an idea that, for me, is only triggered when I write stuff down. […]

What’s key for me is the multi-disciplinarity of my practice. I do touch upon a lot of different disciplines and I am a professional amateur. I’m not an expert in anything. I never fully know my field, but I try to make connections between fields and between people without being a wanker, without appropriating someone else’s work, but by clearly building on top of what’s there, acknowledging what others have do. […]

There’s no shame in saying, “This is not my idea. I read it here. I found it amazing. And, you know what? I’m going to connect it to that other amazing idea I found and this is what I’m making out of it. My work was only to connect those two ideas and this is what I’m sharing with you.” […]

[T]hat’s why I think you can be a generalist. You can be someone who makes synthesis. And you can also make something interesting without knowing something in depth.