Design School 101
Design School 101
Design school can be daunting for most people and that's completely natural. I remember when I first started delving into what graphic design actually was - I was absolutely shocked people cared so much about type. Like WTF is this all about? I didn’t get it. Truth is if you’re a little bit experienced when you first start it always helps, the more prepared you’re the less painful it will be. However, if you’re as green as I was, that's all good too - so follow these tips and they’ll help you get through every tough moment in design school.
1. Ask Questions
As mentioned above, when I first started I was green AF - so I had no idea about anything design related…like at all. I was naturally an artist but had no idea how people used that to create design based work. So I asked questions like there's no tomorrow and I mean - I asked questions until people hated me, including my teachers. Naturally, I annoyed people because I was always the idiot who couldn’t do anything right at the beginning - but I didn’t give a fuck. The way I looked at it was, I’m paying 14,000 dollars to go to this place, so if I wanna know something - you guys are gonna tell me.
Hands down this helped me because, well - I needed help. Questions result into knowledge and the more you know the better you become. Also, the more you speak up, the more confident you become and the less you give a shit - the tougher you become. If I remember correctly there were 12 people in that class in 2013 - 4 graduated and I was among one of them. ASK QUESTIONS!
2. Watch Your Teachers
Hopefully, you guys who read this will go or are already attending a decent college. At decent colleges, the rule of thumb is you’ll have decent teachers. I was lucky to have talented teachers showing me the ropes - and they all had their own skills. Although they all had particular skills, I also paid attention to their way of articulating an idea and ultimately conveying it into industry standard design. As an example, one of my teachers told us that when he was younger he really enjoyed reading and getting inspired from a magazine called Ray Gun. Ray Gun was a rock n roll magazine founded by art director David Carson in the early 90’s and was heavily influenced by graphic design.
Just look up some of the Avant Garde-esque covers and they’ll make your jaws drop. Long story short, I got to know my teachers background and what made him tick - so when he displayed some of his work plus the way he would show us design related techniques, things started to connect. The reason I would recommend watching your teachers is that they all have a past, they all fancy something and when you realise this - you’ll soon find out where and how inspiration comes from. More so, you’ll see whats possible and will directly find your own vision as a designer - which is the fine line between breaking the rules in your head and articulating them in design terms to industry standard.
3. Don’t Quit
This might be pretty obvious but I can’t tell you how much talent I saw walk out the door from either laziness or self-doubt. I was a fucking AWFUL designer when I started, like horrific to the point I wanna hire the CIA to track down all my previous work and burn it. Even so, something told me that if I kept going, my inner voice would have a say. If you are struggling and are thinking of quitting - remember this. Graphic Designers are artists who are trained and equipped with tools to create industry standard work for society. Graphic design isn’t actually art - it can be, but if you use it the wrong way, the masses won’t understand it and you’ll just be labelled as an artist.
The ultra sexy typography posters you see online are designers being let ‘loose’ a bit and aren’t ‘tucking their shirts in’ if that makes sense. That's why to me Paula Scher is such a bad ass designer because her work showcases an immense artistic flair and at the same time, she can ‘tuck her shirt in’ and create a mark like the Citi Bank logo. Don’t quit, your inner voice is waiting for you to learn the tools and the rules - so later on you can break them and follow them whichever way you please.
4. Don’t Treat It Like A Job
Listen, if you suck tomorrow at class, who gives a shit - you’re not gonna starve or miss bills from it. Its only design school and your teachers as much as they try and instill a certain fear in you, its not a do or die situation all the time. Sure, you have to do good work to graduate and shouldn’t feel proud if you pass with sub-par work - but that’s the thing, this is what will make you good at what you do. You will hands down want to be better than last time and so on. Don’t worry, sometimes you might do good in one brief and bad in another. This is normal and guess what, not much changes once you leave school.
Design school is only a VR experience into what the real world holds, so take it for what it is, don’t stress out and all will be well. There is much to learn while there, plenty of room for error initially and even more so for improvement - which is the main goal once you get out into the real world.
Words John Bresciani
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