Another Curious Student...

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by RubenJ, Oct 9, 2008.

  1. RubenJ macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2007
    Hello everyone. I’m am currently a second year student at Arizona State University, and was recently accepted into the school of graphic design. This has been a major goal of mine for several years. Now that these goals are beginning to become a reality I am interested to hear any advice from all you real world designers that work on a professional level. I am also curious to learn how others have experienced the transition from school into design-oriented careers. I look forward to hearing your stories!

  2. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    well, i have my BFA and i now teach graphic design at a few high-end institutions. so with that in mind,

    first thing i would do is to take the attitude of immersion. you are not going to school to take some classes in GD, you are going to school to immerse yourself in GD. that means reading stuff about art, design, photography, etc.that means reading magazines like STEP, Print, Baseline, Graphis, etc... that means under no circumstances missing any lectures given by the department. it means you are a sponge and you are there to soak up as much as possible about things directly and tangentially related to design.

    second, i would become as friendly as possible with your faculty, because your faculty are the people who will often help you get jobs when you graduate; they know you, they know your work, and the know the people looking to hire designers out of school and you WANT to be on the top of that list.

    third, always make excellent work. and by excellent work i do not mean work that most satisfies the requirements, i mean make excellent, engaging, poetic work even if it bends the rules. the most successful students are the ones who take risks and really push the edge of their education. i have never, EVER not had a risk pay off. ever.

    fourth, learn to love typography, even if you don't like it at first. i hated typography at first, now i have a type fetish. there are many, many, many mediocre graphic designers out there and a commonality between them is very often poor understanding of type.

    fifth, tattoo this on your forehead: knowing software does not mean knowing design. period. however, to be an efficient designer (not necessarily a good one) you will need to know software. subscribe to and learn it as quick as you can so you do not need to worry about it.

    sixth, do not spend your money on xbox. do not spend you money on iTunes. do not spend your money on iPod. do not spend your money on huge bar tabs. do not spend your money on anything but condoms, travel and design books. :)

    last, take as many classes as you can with Mookesh Patel. he knows what he is doing.
  3. RubenJ thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2007
    Shecky, thank you for all of the insight,. One thing you mentioned that really caught my attention was the comment of typography. In the beginning I never quite understood why our program was so focused on teaching the fundamentals of typography. But after a semester during my first year of creating our own letterforms I have grown to love it. Even to this day we are expanding on our original letterforms. My professors have even jokingly told us that the acquired sensitivity of noticing the minute details in typography is a “curse” that will stay with us. I have noticed that creating letterforms has also improved my ability to create effective compositions. So I suppose I also have a type fetish!:D I am also glad that you brought up the fact that ” knowing software does not mean knowing design.” We have been pushed to produce compositions with little help from computers. Nearly everything at this point is hand-made with a few exceptions. Your words have definitely been encouraging and I appreciate you taking the time to share all that wonderful information.

    Unfortunately we haven’t been given the opportunity to take classes with Mookesh. But if we ever do I will be sure to take advantage of that.
  4. shamrock593 macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2006
    I love this post. :D
  5. creator2456 macrumors 68000


    Jul 10, 2007
    I'm a 3rd year GD student at UIC and the advice shecky has is very sound.

    It amazes me how many of my peers simply do not understand typography and how easy it becomes to make type look decent (not great/perfect because that takes loads of time) for quick mock-ups and early revisions. From piss-poor rags to the Nile River in a justified paragraph, almost all they learned in their typography classes has been lost or just not used.

    When it comes to bending the rules, do it. Design is an expression of yourself and can't always fit into set guidelines. As long as you have a coherent reason for why you did what you did (not because you liked the color or it looks 'pretty'), then your professor should and most likely will not have a problem with it.

    And like shecky said, read design books and magazines and pick your professor's brains; they know what they are doing (for the most part at leasr:p). Live graphic design, don't just do it.
  6. jecapaga macrumors 601


    Jul 1, 2007
    Southern California
    Always keep your portfolio up to date and don't leave your work on your work computer. You never know when you will be given the boot/laid off and it's best to have your pieces at your disposal for future interviews..unless you're freelancing. Your work is all you have.

    Always go for the $ you want in the beginning rather than hope for $ bumps once you're hired. Difficult to negotiate raises after the fact.

    Typography. Agree there.

    Try to not always wear black.

    Resume should be spotless, no errors and not overly designed/gimmicky. Keep it clean, classic. Less is more. This is not where you want to show that you know Illustrator really well.

    Portfolio..same as the resume.

    Send a follow up, handwritten thank you note to anyone you interview with. Be sure to get their business cards at the end of the interview to remember their names.

    Stay as far away as possible from photoshop filters. There's a time and place for everything and now is not the time. They are not your friends.

    Work now. Anywhere in design. Intern, offer to work for free even if you're still in school.

    Learn to try and solve the problem, at least initially, before you touch the computer.

    Command>S keys are your friend.

    Join any localized Ad club or design group in your area. Great ways to network.

    Just a few off the top of my head. Good Luck!
  7. Toronto Mike macrumors regular

    Jan 5, 2008
    Also, consider learning to draw. Any effort spent in this endeavor will pay off by making you visually aware, with the increased ability to solve visual problems. Graphic Design is intricately linked to all the visual art disciplines because they concern themselves with the same visual language concerns of communicating an idea effectively.

    If you want to make drawing fun and exciting try nude life drawing at your school or within your community. It will never be boring and could be socially engaging to meet other artists. Who knows, it could be a way of networking as well.

    Painting is another option that introduces color and shape, and might help to visualize ideas better than the monochrome of most drawing techniques. The act of finishing a painting or drawing to what you feel is a balanced and final work will go a long way to making you a better graphic designer as well as giving you tools to work out ideas away from the computer. Often technology gets in the way at the initial stages when ideas are fragile and fleeting. I think real art materials seize this moment better in capturing that. They can be faster and more flexible in many ways to throwing down creative thoughts. Computers in many ways are an artificial construction built around software constructs. Many people don't realize how much the dictates of Photoshop and sitting in a room might limit thought. Spilling a cup of coffee by accident on your sketches might work wonders. More happy accidents will occur with real art materials - flies land on paint, and the irritation of sunburn might frustrate you to the point of doing something radical and crazed - which might be the mistake or accident the idea needed all along.

    Don't forget to turn your drawings/paintings upside down. You'll see problems with balance and composition you might have missed staring at your work rightside up. If it works upside down, you've arrived.


    p.s. I just realized my response had nothing to do with what the original poster was asking. Hope someone can take what I have said to heart.
  8. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    As a design student graduating in or around 2010, consider the possibility that you will be retiring from the design profession around or after the year 2060.

    Think about that for a second. What are the types of skills (both conceptual and technical) will you need for the FUTURE of visual communication design?
  9. Krebstar macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2008
    Too many fellow design students I talk to stop being a designer when they leave class each day. Do not make that mistake, let it take over your life. Learn to evaluate everything you see and never turn your brain off in terms of design. As a designer you'll be creating the visual world that you live in, so it's best to take as much in as possible.
  10. motoxpress macrumors 6502

    Mar 8, 2006
    Great thread...many of my ideas are along similar thought trains as above but, I was just discussing this with another designer yesterday so it's fresh...

    I second the idea that GD is not an end but the beginning. Truly, GD is the approach of taking all other visual mediums and orchestrating them like a conductor of a symphony. The best work I have seen is from a designer who brings multiple elements together to create a symbiotic relationship that you never would would have considered before.

    So, take all of the classes you can in different mediums so you can at least appreciate their qualities. Watercolor, Pastels, Charcoal, Pottery, etc. They all will inform your design abilities. A good drawing class will introduce you to many of these btw. Which leads me to...

    Learn to draw. Period. Doesn't mean you have to master it but, it is essential to thinking. If you draw on the computer that is fine but, not as convenient in my opinion.

    Really focus on type. Learn to appreciate form and structure of the type shapes. This is essential to working effectively with type. Also realize there is so much to learn about type that you can always learn more and improve.

    One more thought. Always push for better quality from yourself. Many in school take on the "assignment requirements" mentality and that is a disservice to yourself. The best class experiences I have had were from the times I was pushed or I pushed myself. Just know that when you get into the workplace, the best jobs REQUIRE this everyday. Learn to think that way and you will succeed.

  11. RubenJ thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2007
    Hello everyone. I’m sorry for taking so long to respond, I had midterm presentations these last two weeks. Before this thread falls too far behind I just wanted to thank everyone for all the terrific advice. As I was preparing for all my studio presentations your responses sparked that bit of encouragement I needed. This thread has helped more than I could have imagined. Thanks again!

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