Is design a skill or talent?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by akm3, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. akm3 macrumors 68020

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    #1
    I know there are 'design schools' but am I kidding myself by going to one? Is design something you either have or you don't? School merely enhances the inherent talent and teaches the vocabulary of the trade? -- and if you don't have the inherent talent you will NEVER be good at design?

    How do you tell if you even have the talent?

    Are my assumptions correct?
     
  2. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #2
    design = skill, with training anyone can make good looking things

    creativity however is a different story.
     
  3. wongulous macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    There are many types of design along the continuum of "purely creative" to "purely skill." I feel this question personally because I sometimes see others' innate talents that when applied to any skill are just amazing... for instance, I have a friend who is brilliantly creative, but he could not kern and typeset a 3-page brochure if his life depended on it, his house is a blank white canvas (and a mess), his website/portfolio is highly spastic, and he has lost many freelance clients because he couldn't give them what they want. But his characters are absolutely amazing, his paintings hang in galleries and people buy them up, his photos win awards... on the other hand, I know highly successful design analysts, in-house designers, typeface designers, typesetters, photographers, photo editors, layout editors, film makers, and even diagram/technical illustrators, who may not be the most creative but DAMN are they skilled, and they actually think outside of the box all of the time... so really, they are creative, but just in a different way... an adaptive, analytical way, rather than being able to pick up a piece of paper and sketch out an amazing drawing.

    You'll never know unless you try--just keep backup options, like transferring back to another university at the end of the year, and whatever you do, don't drop out. You will find your place in society.
     
  4. a cat *miaow* macrumors regular

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    #4

    That's your answer
     
  5. decksnap macrumors 68040

    decksnap

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    #5
    And making good looking things is only half the job. So you need both.
     
  6. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #6
    Agree.

    You need both to be successful.
     
  7. akm3 thread starter macrumors 68020

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    #7
    So...

    How do you determine if you've got talent, versus merely having interest?
     
  8. klymr macrumors 65816

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    Utah
    #8
    That's a tough question. I personally feel at times that I'm lacking in the talent/skill/creativity department, then I go to class on critique days and realize I'm sitting just fine. I think a lot of my lack of these things is this curse I'm trying to break still...procrastination. Anyone have any tips for overcoming that beast?!

    As far as determining if you have talent, I think it's just something you have to try out and get feedback. Remember, talent can grow as well as your skill, but it takes hard work and patience sometimes. I'm sure other will chime in also.
     
  9. IgnatiusTheKing macrumors 68040

    IgnatiusTheKing

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    #9
    Once you are out of school and have to pay the bills and answer to a client/boss, you'll slay that beast pretty quickly.
     
  10. macfearless macrumors regular

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    #10
    the school thing to me is a personal choice. as a recent graduate from design school (go tigers!) i would say for me it was worth it. there are some (designers) here in my town that have never stepped foot in a classroom and are now some of the leading designers here. they were just passionate enough about their craft that they knew what they wanted and chose how to get there through their own means. either way if you have the discipline to hone your skills on your own, then by all means do it. school just helps reinforce a schedule/deadlines where honing your skill situations are a necessity. for me i needed that (procrastination is a beeotch) anyone can push some pixels around and learn their way around a program or two, but being passionate and having the ambition to make yourself better will allow the rest to fall in place.
     
  11. klymr macrumors 65816

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    #11
    Any tips for slaying that beast while in school? That's where I have the hard time. Overall I think it's going to affect the outcome of my portfolio when I'm finished with school. :confused:
     
  12. IgnatiusTheKing macrumors 68040

    IgnatiusTheKing

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    #12
    I feel your pain. I procrastinated my way though a couple of degrees. When it comes down to it, you're just going to have to force yourself to work at it. Set aside a certain amount of time on a daily basis to work on projects. Treat it like a job and don't screw around on the Internet or watching TV.

    Set arbitrary deadlines for yourself ahead of the actual class deadlines. Then leave the work for a short period, so you can come back and see it with a fresh eye. That way you'll still have time to make changes before the actual due date.
     
  13. decksnap macrumors 68040

    decksnap

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    #13
    Think about how much money you or your family is spending for your opportunity in school. That alone should do it.

    However, if you are really into it, it shouldn't be a problem. Maybe you aren't? Looking back on my college days I remember being so naturally immersed it's hard to imagine now. Art students have to put a LOT of time in.
     
  14. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    #14
    That was it for me, if it was a class I enjoyed doing the projects wasn't a problem, and subsequently all the gen-eds and boring classes failed. And I still don't have that degree.

    But, if you never know whether you have that innate talent, then I'm guessing that you do, it's just not as much as the prodigy's. People who suck <i>should</i> ultimately fade away into another career. In a perfect world.
     
  15. Krebstar macrumors regular

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    #15
    You can teach someone how to use design programs. You can not teach them how to be creative, how to come up with ideas and how to solve problems.
     
  16. klymr macrumors 65816

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    #16
    Thanks for the advice guys. I think part of my problem is I just feel sooooo overwhelmed after sitting through these classes for 6-8 hours a day, then work for a few hours. I just want to relax and not do anything. Another part of me doesn't like sitting in my room at my crappy desk doing design. I want to upgrade my desk to something I'd enjoy sitting at. Lame excuse, I know. And all this money spent has or will come out of my pocket. I need to focus on the tasks at hand I guess.

    Wheezy, I just browsed over your site. I gotta say, you've lived an interesting life so far! I liked the bit about Japan. ;) I spent a couple years in the Tallahassee, Florida area, if you know what I mean. Never got to learn to speak anything cool though. What school did you go to? I'm assuming it was one down South near where you are. I am currently attending Utah State University. Good ole home town for me. Anyway, thanks again!
     
  17. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    #17
    Yes, I went to UVCC.SC.U, and they have some of the best teachers in the multimedia department, and some of the worst teachers I've ever had in other departments. I've heard Utah State has a good design program though. I'd love to get back into a design program, but I feel like I'm stuck where I'm at and no other school would take me. Ugh.

    Tallahassee eh? You got to learn to speak Southern, I think that's an accomplishment enough! Japan was awesome, I went back 2 years ago and I've got the itch to go back again. It's pricey though :(
     
  18. Missty macrumors newbie

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    #18
    No, it's not that black and white. Some people with minor design talent can benefit from hard work and dedication, learning and improving their inherent talent. Others seem to have a head start, as you imply, when you credit them for having talent. They might not have to work as hard during this lifetime, having gained such skills before. It can be discouraging to compare ourselves to those with great inherent talent. Conversely, with a simple change in attitude, it can be inspiring learning from them. So, it is wrong to say a person without inherent talent will never be good at design. What probably makes the difference for many of us who aren't great from an early age is our love for the field nonetheless, our passion to become so dedicated that we progress, and a modest ego that doesn't discourage us before we've reached our potential. I leave it to others though to answer your larger question whether a design school is your best choice, or if there are other avenues to your career.
     
  19. jeremy h macrumors 6502

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    #19
    I don't agree - creativity can be taught, but people who can do it are rare.

    I had a lecturer years ago (late 80's) who could do it. We were on an advertising and design course that lasted two years. He taught the second year. (The first year was the usual nonsense - set a brief go away and think about it on your own for 3 weeks and then come back with a finished item for a gentle one to one crit with the lecturer, easy for both parties but very little was learn't)

    As a result at the start of the second year there were only about 3 or 4 people out of the 30 or so who could naturally come up with original ideas on a project (everyone else just copied good looking stuff and waited in vain for the 'muse' to strike them) but by the end of the year it had reversed - out of the 30 only 3 or 4 were still struggling with such problem solving etc.

    Looking back - there was no magic - he just stuck us all through a couple of months of endless creativity exercises and verbal abuse. For the first couple of weeks we did an exercise a day with a full crit at the end in front of the whole class and allowed them to praise / attack the idea(s). It was completely ruthless but very effective. (Several people couldn't deal with it left the course!)

    I think it's possible to do this on your own but it's hard. I'd say go to a design school but, and this is a big but - whether you get taught anything in terms of creativity is a bit of a lottery. I don't know how it works in the States but here in the UK the number of student design awards won acted as a bit of a guide...
     
  20. motoxpress macrumors 6502

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    #20
    I think the key for me was really taking pride in creating something better than the assignments require. Often, students go for the bare minimum to get the assignment done but, that is shortchanging yourself. If you push yourself to do something beyond, you will learn to enjoy the challenge and the process more and thereby you don't have to get yourself to do the task but, you can't wait to get started.

    -mx
     
  21. motoxpress macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Funny. I have spent time in many depts at UVU and felt that the multimedia program was one of the most frustrating. However that was mainly due to the fact I was looking for a conceptual approach and they were offering technical information.

    I ended up in the graphic design program and was much happier.

    -mx
     
  22. klymr macrumors 65816

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    #22
    How is the design program at UVU? I'm up at USU, and I'd say it's outstanding up here. There is so much to learn, but not enough time to learn it all.
     
  23. motoxpress macrumors 6502

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    #23
    The design program at UVU is really good and getting better. Two of the main instructors are actually USU graduates so, UVU is kind of a USU satellite program :)

    I hear what you are saying about so much to learn. I think if we establish learning habits in school, it has to continue on after.

    -mx
     
  24. klymr macrumors 65816

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    #24
    That's funny. USU cranks out graphic designers, that's for sure. Over 50% of the art students are emphasis in graphic design. Two of the three professors teaching graphic design also graduated from USU. One graduated in 1976 with a BFA and went on to the University of Oregon for his MFA. The other one is a lot younger and got both his BFA and MFA from here. The third professor graduated from Weber State with his BFA and then Kent State with his MFA. He actually designed the marks of identity for Weber State (The flaming W and all the shields, etc.) a few years back when they did their redesign. I haven't heard much about any of the other design programs here in Utah, so I was curious. I know a lot of places hire USU and BYU graduates over UofU and Weber, but haven't heard about UVU. Anyway, it's kinda fun to run into students from other local schools on here.
     
  25. motoxpress macrumors 6502

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    #25
    Well (off the record), I don't think the UVU program is turning out the consistently good designers like BYU does but, BYU also turns out similar designers in terms of the work they are use to / trained for.

    The key to being a really good designer is getting beyond the basics of principles and applying them with a voice unique to you. Speaking the visual language in the same way as a good writer uses their native tongue. I don't think many student designers even learn enough to get directions ;)

    -mx
     

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