Design school advice.

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by panoz7, Apr 8, 2006.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    panoz7

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    #1
    I’m looking for some help and opinions from current and former college design majors.

    I’m a Biomedical Engineering major but recently I have lost the enthusiasm I used to have for math and science. I’ve been entertaining the possibility of switching majors and studying design. There are a couple of problems with this and I’d like your opinions and experience on the matter.

    The university I attend currently has an excellent science curriculum but it seems to be lacking (or at least isn’t nationally recognized) when it comes to its art and design programs. If I decide to switch majors it would probably involve transferring to a school with a more established design school.

    I’ve heard that the application process for the design school I would be interested in is quite rigorous. I have some friends at the school who I have discussed the application process with. The problem is that they were already planning on being art majors in high school and took classes accordingly. I did not take any true art classes in high school, and I have never had any formal schooling in any design principles. Does this put me at a real disadvantage when applying?

    I’ve always been good at using computers so a few summers ago I took some time and learned basic html and played around with photoshop hoping that I could maybe make a little bit of extra money from doing webdesign for friends and family (mostly pity money I think…) Anyway, I’ve moved on to doing real sites. I think that I have a reasonable sense of design but I’m not really sure. That’s why I’m posting this. Could you guys look at a few of these and tell me what you think? I firmly believe that you are born with a sense of design and its not something that easily developed. Do I have the potential to succeed in a design field? Do I even have a chance of getting into design school?

    Thanks for your help.

    This is just a bunch of some of my more recent stuff. The ambrosia farm site was my first real site. I just included that so you guys could see my progression (or lack there of). All of the sites were completely hand coded and the photographs used in them and all the photo-shopping was done by me.

    EDIT: Looks like you can only attache 5 images at a time... the rest are in the next post.
     

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  2. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    panoz7

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    #2
    Here's the rest:
     

    Attached Files:

  3. ATD
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    #3
    As far as your pre-schooling for design you have to start somewhere, now is as good of time as any. I don't believe someone is born with design talent. However I do believe that after years of training some people "get it", some don't and never will. Design is a visual language, some people pick it and can speak it well. The love of designing is the best motivation to becoming good at it.

    As far as the design schools, each school is different, can't hurt to try.

    As far as your work, I see some beginning sparks of a designer. I do see some sense that you think about the layout as a whole and you are starting to playful it. Also that you are not throwing a lot of effects into the work, good. One area that I think you should take a very hard look at is the attention to typographic detail. Type faces, weights, sizes, kerning, leading, playing within a type family and the type layout. It may seem like a small detail but it isn't, it is the core of graphic design. I would suggest going to the bookstore and pick up books that deal with design from just a typographic viewpoint. Look at them, see what works about the designs and why. This kind of thing is hard to put in words, it's an understanding. BTW good type design is ageless, there are books from over 50 years ago that are still excellent. A book that I had as a student called "Typography" by Emil Ruder has to be a lease 35 years old and to this day is still an excellent book about understanding typography for a design standpoint. You have a good start there, hope that helps.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    panoz7

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    #4
    Thanks for the response and encouragement. I’m going to head to a book store later today to get one of those typographic books. I’ve never had an opportunity to learn it, and I agree that it shows in my work so far. I can’t wait till this summer when I’ll actually have time to learn some of this stuff. Right now I’m taking 18 hours of calc, chem, and physics courses, and it really doesn’t leave too much time for anything else (ummm… except for surfing macrumors far too much :) )
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    cgratti

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania, USA
    #5
  6. macrumors 6502a

    interlaced

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    #6
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/08...f=pd_bbs_1/103-7442018-1133441?_encoding=UTF8

    The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst.
    That book was pretty much our Bible in my Typography class.
    I was a Design major at a school most nationally recognized for their research in science.
    It was still cool when I'd tell people where I went to school.

    None of my designs were as good as yours, but in my portfolio I made sure to show that I could do a variety of different things: film, web design, graphic arts, so I was one out of about 20 kids that actually made it in out of the 500+ applicants. Oh, and I had never ever taken an art class in my life, but applied just to see if I'd get in.

    I think you'd have a pretty good chance.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    panoz7

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    #7
    Once again I'd like to thank you guys for your support and help. I going to hold off on ordering the typography books till after this semmester is over (I have enough distractions as it is). I can hardly wait to start learning.

    Anyway, this is the school I'm interested in applying to:
    http://ncsudesign.org

    Is the application process normal for a design school? Any other suggestions?

    Thanks again,

    Grif
     
  8. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #8
    You have good designs here. Like the others said: typography, typography, typography! It's really quite a joy once you get the hang of it. I wanted to be a designer too, but I'm not sure it's for me. I think my calling is in Psychology. That being said, you don't have to abandon your biomedical background. For example, I plan on using my design skill for Psychology-related web projects.

    Although you're short on time (to say the least), it's important that you have a project going at all times. You may only have a few minutes for it each day, but this first-hand learning is invaluable. Use it as a break from the drudgery of your classes. It could be a logo, a small website, an advertisement... anything. You will learn volumes more than reading about theories or principles from a book.

    I think passion is important above all else, it will take you as far as you dare go.

    I made this website in high school. It feels so long ago... now I'm famous when I visit, because the teachers use it as an example. :cool:

    I was at a similar stage as you. I wrote my own code and used Photoshop for the rest. You can see my understanding of typeface is very limited. The layout is appealing, but not particularly original. The colors are harmonious, but not quite right.

    You might find this thread I started in 2005 helpful, too. Lots of advice there.
     
  9. macrumors 68020

    YS2003

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2004
    Location:
    Finally I have arrived.....
    #9
    I have just purchased 2 typography books the fellow forum members recommended via Amazon. Thanks for suggestions, as it seems they are goo book to read on those typographic issues.
    I am going voraciously through design books. Adobe Press's CS2 Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Macromedia's training from source for MS2004 Dreamweaver, Photoshop CS2 One-on-One, Illustrator CS and CS2 Wow books, Realworld Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign CS2 books, Photoshop Masking & Compositing, Photoshop Restoration & Retouching, Artistic Techniques by Deborah Ferro, Photoshop and Painter Artist Tablet Book, Painter IX Wow Book, Adobe Indesign CS2 and Illustrator CS2 @ work books, Painter IX Creativity, a few more Photoshop and several more covering MX2004, JavaScript, HTML/XML, and etc. There are so many things to learn and now I have 3 Wacom Tablets (9X12, 6X9, and 4X6) to complement my Macs and Tablet PC (which has Painter IX and Alias Sketchbook.
    I am done with schools (I have Journalism and Communication/Marketing undergraduate degrees) and I prefer working at my own pace at home.
     
  10. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    #10
    i think one of the best decisions in choosing a design school is to surround yourself with good design...... choosing a metropolitan area is good because you are bombarded with design each and every day....

    i went to NCSU and it's in downtown raleigh...... raleigh as a city is pretty lame..... and the only design you will see will be at school and it's the small part of a very conservative school....

    the design kids there almost willingly choose to segregate themselves from the rest of the student population.....

    don't get me wrong it's a good program..... but most of a good design program is not so much the teaching, but the environment.......

    put yourself somewhere like NYC or SF where you will be visually bombarded with stuff everyday for you to ponder and learn from......

    clearly you can learn the skills on your own from what you have shown above......

    if you want to learn the technical side of using programs like InDesign, i highly recommend www.totaltraining.com videos sponsered by Adobe.....

    they are worth more than the tuition you'll pay for a similar course.....

    the main thing to get from a design school is environment and critiquing.... in the end all you leave with is a portfolio...... that's all that really matters in the end.... your portfolio..... it's not the design school degree that gets you the job, but your portfolio.......
     
  11. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    panoz7

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    #11
    intlplby, thanks for the advice. I'm pretty much stuck with NCSU or nothing though. I grew up in Chapel Hill and Raleigh and I go to UNC-CH right now.

    I just can't justify paying the tuition on an out of state school. I choose carolina over NCSU and USMA. It wasn't an easy decision, and I partially choose UNC because the city and campus are really nice. I'd love to stay here, but our design program really can't compare to NCSU's for that very reason of trying to surround your self with art. Its just too small here.

    I also entirely agree about the critiquing. That's what I miss most about doing art and design on my own. I've tried to associate my self with as much as possible with artists at carolina, but my schedule doesn't allow much time for art, so I haven't had nearly the opportunity to be critiqued that I'd like.

    Thanks again.
     
  12. macrumors regular

    JoeKarame

    Joined:
    May 2, 2005
    #12
    I'm glad I spied this thread. I've been spending a fair bit of time looking around at Graphic Design and just what it would take. The problem I'm in is that I have a full time job, and quite honestly wouldn't be able to do anything more than a part-time course.

    I've noticed that there are a number of on-line courses for graphic design around, and just wondered if anyone has read anything about http://www.sessions.edu/. Quite honestly, the website doesn't actually fill me with much comfort, but I've been in contact with some of the admin people there and they've been giving me various info, which seems relatively encouraging.

    I dunno though, I'm just not sure about online courses really...
     
  13. ATD
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    #13


    I looked at their online portfolio... some pretty poor stuff there. I would see about taking night classes or something other than that. A good hands on teacher and interaction with others is what a starting out designer needs. Design is a hard subject to teach, I can't see an online program being the right way, it's way too detached. Keep in mind when I say design I not talking about learning computer programs. Learning design and learning computer programs are two different things. Just my POV.



     
  14. macrumors regular

    JoeKarame

    Joined:
    May 2, 2005
    #14
    I think you're right. I went along to a local university and had a look at the options there - it's always better to talk to people in person.

    By the way, your portfolio is eye-opening stuff...in a good way!
     
  15. ATD
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    #15
    I think any online school you would be missing on some important stuff.

    Thanks :)
     
  16. macrumors 68000

    e-coli

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2002
    #16
    I went to the College of Design at NCSU. That was back in the glory days when it was still the School of Design and Andrew Blauvelt was chairperson of the department. I'll tell you though, it's impossibly difficult to get into (or it was...I haven't kept up with it), and you will work until you're half dead. 3 nights with no sleep was a frequent and regular schedule for me.

    Denise Gonzales Crisp heads the department now, and she's very talented and well respected. Meredith Davis is still there as well. She's an old-school designer but also very well respected worldwide. The trouble with the College of Design now (as was the case when I was there) is the Dean, Marvin Malecha. He's a prima donna, and is hell-bent on making it an architecture school, and diverts most of the school's funding into the architecture program (which IMO, is half-baked at best...having never built a noteworthy building, even on its own campus).

    But it's an incredibly good education. You will be required to take classes in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Fine Art, Art History and Industrial Design on top of your Graphic Design classes. It's truly an impressive structure. But as I said, there are some frustrations there right now, and you have to be willing to work very very hard.
     
  17. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2004
    #17
    I had a very long reply typed up to answer as many questions as possible, but the board ate it.

    Anyway, the annotated version: I'm an architecture major at the college and think the dean is great (who would have thought?).

    Everything you've heard about the application process is true, the acceptance rate is comparable to Ivy league percentages. My advice is to apply, but enroll at state as a first year student regardless and take all the design for non major classes you can. Talk to an advisor and tell them your plans and you may even be able to take some entry level graphic design classes before you get into the program. This is beneficial for two reasons, the work you do will vary and enhance your portfolio for the next year's application and it will also give you first hand experience at the college so you can decide if it's right for you.

    Sorry I wasn't able to get everything answered this time, I'll check the topic again soon and provide any more thorough replies I can.

    PS. Today is the last day of classes so the design school is having a big party deal called Studio Crawl. This is when everyone puts all their best stuff from the year out on their desk and everyone goes from studio to studio checking this year's work. Lots of great work from all schools of design will be on display, as well as free food and belly dancers (literally). It’s from 6-10 tonight and if you could it would be worth checking out. I'm going to set up my studio space right now, actually.

    PS. I hope you like coffee.
     
  18. macrumors 68000

    e-coli

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2002
    #18
    Heh...hope you didn't take offense Lobo. I'm sure you're quite talented. ;)

    Small world.

    Is Roger still there. The professor who has a bit of a limp? I'm sure you've heard the story about how he got that limp. If you haven't, message me and I'll fill you in.

    I always liked him. Great guy.
     
  19. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2004
    #19
    Roger Clark? Architecture professor? I'm not so sure about the limp, but I'd love to find out...
     
  20. macrumors 68000

    e-coli

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2002
    #20
    He was out on the town one evening, and had a few too many. For some reason, he decided to come back to the CoD. At the time, his office was in Brooks Hall. He realized, however, that he had forgotten his keys and was locked out of his office. So he brilliantly conceived a plan to scale the exterior wall of Brooks. Unfortunately, he plummeted from the second story windows into the shrubbery at the base, where he lay all night with a spinal injury. The cleaning crew found him in the morning. Hence the pronounced limp.

    CoD legend. Use it wisely. ;)
     
  21. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2004
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    #21
    Oh, My, God. That's amazing. It's going to be a struggle to keep a straight face when I pass Roger on campus next.


    panoz7:

    I came into the Industrial Design Department at the College of Design as a transfer from the Mechanical Engineering department at NCSU. I faced many of the same issues you are looking at. Engineering wasn't keeping my interest. I started taking a few design courses and fell in love with it instantly. I worked for a year getting together a portfolio and applied. You've got a good start with your web work, and I think working on many of the suggestions that have been offered in this thread will help you build up a strong portfolio. From what I can tell, they don't expect applicants to have graduate level work, they are looking for ideas and thought processes. They look for potential, because they know that people come to learn. It is difficult to get in, but you don't know if you don't try.


    I went ahead and scheduled all of my engineering courses as normal so if I wasn't accepted I wouldn't be knocked off track. I'm not sure if that's possible when you're switching schools though, I've never transfered universities.
     
  22. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2004
    #22
    Roger is hardcore bauhaus.
     
  23. macrumors 68000

    e-coli

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2002
    #23
    Yes. Most everybody there is, spiritually. The school was founded on the principles of the Bauhaus, and modeled after it.
     
  24. macrumors 68000

    technicolor

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2005
    Location:
    ><><><><
    #24
    You dont have to be able to design to get into a design school, thats why you go.:D They just want to see your art potential. I got accepted to some of the best design schools in the country with no designs in my entrance portfolio:p , I didnt feel my design was the strongest compared to my other art. Many schools want to see that you can draw as well.
     
  25. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    panoz7

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    #25
    That's what I like about state. Carolina simply doesn't offer such a diverse program. I'm certainly willing to work hard. It might sound strange but the hard work is actually appealing to me. I love to work as long as I can see a goal.... that's what I miss with my current field of study.

    That's the plan. I think I'm going to transfer into the mechanical engineering program at State next semester. I grew up a tarheel though, so saying good bye to UNC is going to be difficult (I could never go to duke... the pack's never been as bad in my mind though). I know its kind of sad that childhood sports affiliations can have such a strong effect on my mind. I've been flip flopping on what to do. I sort of made up my mind tonight to transfer though... and I think I'm going to stick with that decision this time.

    Hope your show went well. I really wanted to come out and see it, but I'm a little too busy panicking over finals right now. My parents own a store right near state so I'm out there all the time. Do you know if there's a gallery or something displaying student work on campus? I'd love to see it.

    Yay!... I'm glad to see someone else was in the same situation as me. I'm glad you are having such a great time with Design. I've got a few specific questions for you. Would you mind if I sent you a PM with a few of them?


    Thanks to everybody for the encouragement and support. I'm pretty sure I'm going to apply. It certainly can't hurt. I've also decided to redesign my portfolio site, paying closer attention to some of the stuff discussed in this thread. Here's the link to a thread discussing it: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=196352
    Thanks once again.
     

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