A university or college course in design is based on a set curriculum and forces you to focus your ideas and maybe even the tutors ideas within the boundaries of that curriculum. The problem with this is that it closes you off from the real world. In reality the industry of design changes at tremendous pace so whilst you’re stuck in a box at university, the design industry has moved on tenfold. The result is that you may have some knowledge and skills to design but will be inexperienced to work as a professional designer because universities just can’t keep up with the design world.
To solve this problem you need to start looking around at everything thats graphically designed. Look at your own work, other peoples work, products at the supermarket, the credits to a movie, the movie poster itself, look around everywhere to soak up as much real world design as possible. Look at it, analyse it and digest it to grow your design.
From branding and identity to packaging and artwork, all the design you see around you are the types of design that professional designers create and that’s the type of design that you’ll need to engage in, in order to work professionally as a designer.
A design education creates many misconceptions so remember:
- Professional design work is not about you, it’s about the brief
- Rarely is it about art
- It’s as much about experience then anything else.
Not having enough real world design industry experience is the reason why a lot of CVs and portfolios I receive are rubbish. Graduates or school leavers don’t look around at what a creative CV should be. Neither do they know what their portfolio should look like.
Admittedly it’s tough to do this when you’re straight out of University, College or School because you’re lacking professional experience and a body of work but that’s a problem that can be solved just by observing the CV’s, portfolios and the work of other designers.
Don’t be shy to look at someone else’s work or even be inspired by it. This is one of the basic skills that will make you a better designer because you need to realise that there’s no such thing as an original idea.
“Good designers copy; great designers steal.”
— Pablo Picasso
Every great idea was built off of the back of another one and hence why you need to look around and become a sponge to soak in everything you’ve missed out on in School or University so far.
This is basically your introduction into becoming a real designer so do what most professional designers do and start collecting pieces of work that you see (adverts, flyers, magazines, documents) and put them in a box. If it’s a bill board poster then take a photo.
When you start designing professionally you’ll find that it will come in handy but automatically as you start to observe and collect, your design knowledge will start to grow.
Whilst this first tip may seem simple or maybe even obvious, it’s actually a huge problem that I see all the time and why most portfolios from rookie designers are rubbish.
Trust me, take my advice, open your eyes, observe, collate and start stealing design.