I’ve been away for a long while (posts have been queued) and by some amazing twist of fate i’m getting married!
Follow my progress of being a groom to be here » http://thedesignergroom.wordpress.com/
I think my blog has been running around a year or so now, and i’d love to know what you think about it when you go through it, do you enjoy it?
I may, make it into a lil infographic so some good comments would be great :)
Now it may be evident that I haven’t really wrote any decent blog posts recently, well with everything that has been going on, I just haven’t had the time!
But, fear not! Something I have wanted to write about and feel in a good position to do it now is the season that all us designers love - the End of Year Degree shows!
The end of year shows can make or break certain establishments, with them either reflecting the hard work, and fabulous creativity that is bred among their students; or they can reflect on just how out of touch courses/lecturers/universities are out of touch with modern design or the industry. Two shows I have recently attended have shown these points to good effect.
The first show I saw reflected that the calibre of work that the students on the course had produced just did not sit where you would expect degree level students to be from an industry perspective. Fundamental elements such as typography, and imagery were just poorly executed, and after paying for three years worth of specialist education I would have expected the students to have been more knowledgeable and creative as to not have used comic sans on final pieces of work without a sense of irony. One thing that did surprise me was that the graphic designers in the show all virtually used stock or found images which I think is not the way to learn, because most of the time as a designer, you have to source images yourselves, otherwise where is the originality? Most consultancies will have someone in-house who is either a trained, or at least a very good photographer - and although you may feel that this is of little importance to a degree student, when they are showing their final degree work off, that is centred around these ‘found’ images, it makes you question just how creative they actually are. How would they cope if they were faced with a ‘real’ graphic brief?
It makes you think, what did they learn over the three years?
In contrast the degree show I attended on Friday in Cardiff was sublime. Of course there were some exceptions to prove the rule, and i’m sorry if you are reading this, but the ‘Man-Tan’ concept was one of the boards that held my interest least, but on the whole, the creativeness and freshness of the design was leaps and bounds higher than the other degree show.
Having attended Cardiff to undertake my degree, it is safe to say that the show would have blew our one some 7 years ago away, but at that time even then, design was a different scene. However, the lecturers are the same, and their approach to teaching is the same, the fundamental difference is that they constantly keep their eyes on the creative world, and inspire their students to do the same. As a lecturer myself, I feel as if I have taken this approach into my studio, and if the final major projects of my second year students is anything to go by, I think I have been a little bit successful.
What was evident at the first University show I have referred to, is that the illustration course seemed to have a wonderful grasp on the freshness of design, and more surprisingly, a wonderful grasp of good typography. Some pieces were exquisite, and I hope that the quality of their work shined through to industry experts that attended the show.
With the current economical climate, and with tuition fees set to soar to £9000 a year, I think now more than ever it is time for creative students to really explore what they are getting for their money at universities. Are they getting a well rounded course that allows them to learn crucial commercial lessons to take into the industry? Or are they getting a course that allows them to be experimental with design, but with less emphasis on how they can translate this into the real world? Or are they getting a course that is out of date and prepares them to fail in the industry, or to at least not reach their full potential?
The end of year shows can mostly represent this in a succinct manner. Even when talking to students you can understand how passionate they are for the course, either good or bad. The guys I spoke to at the first show couldn’t really talk about their designs with any enthusiasm, but at Cardiff they were bouncing to talk. There is no doubt to if I were hiring, I would have taken at least a dozen Cardiff designers, but maybe one of the others, in fact I would have employed some of the illustrators as graphic designers instead!
All this brings me round to my students final show.
I have been so impressed with their work ethic, and creativity this year, and each project reflects this in a positive way. I know that after discussing their final major projects with another lecturer, pouring over the in-depth book work, lavishly reading their annotations I have ended up with something that I am not only proud of, but knocked the socks off the other lecturer, and that will show just how talented my students actually are.
They are at a crucial stage of their development as designers, but the commitment and creativity they deliver makes me anticipate their degree shows in three years time even more! Because they are only 18/19 and have yet to even start their degrees, but I would welcome any other students or lecturers from universities to come and actually just see the talent on offer, because in some universities they would be jealous of the rich talent on offer here, and envy the degree level work they are already creating.
So I will anticipate that I will post some photos and video from my student’s final show soon, and hopefully try to attend a few more other shows and if any catch my eye i’m sure I will let you know.
But for all prospective university students out there wanting a career in the design industry, ask yourself - what is my uni doing for me?
See the work they do and follow along to see work in progress, final concepts and just generally what we all get upto day to day
….just because his blog is always packed full of cool design stuff!
As someone who is blessed with thick unmanageable hair (something I put down to my head being shaved from the ages of 4-10, never been the same since) finding the right hair products to use is like walking through a minefield, blindfolded. Over the years I have used many, many products with…
go follow this up and coming blog new to tumblr, and ask and submit them stuff to get them going!!!! They have hardly any followers atm, but us guys are nice enough to follow yeah??
I have to say that if I look into a crystal ball at the moment my future is as foggy as it has been outside for the past few days. Lots of things in the future hinge on external forces and situations, none of which are quite predictable at the moment. This led me to ponder, what options do I have?
Well, the most obvious is to continue teaching, but after teaching the subject I am currently, I doubt that returning to a school environment will enrich my life and ultimately feel like a step backwards, at a time when I have found a new lease on life. The pressures and demand that working in a high school place on someone is phenomenal and I just don’t know whether I could emotionally, physically and mentally cope with that kind of pressure any more. Which begs the question where would I go from there?
The fact that I have been out of the mainstream design industry for almost 4 years now seems like a huge hurdle in returning. I have the privilege of seeing up and coming designers first hand at the moment, and for any designer it truly is intimidating. The level of enthusiasm, skill and creativity they display and possess questions whether I could actually be successful in returning to the design industry, a relic of times past, not ‘fresh’ enough to succeed. Of course I have kept my fingers dipped in design, and I pretty much live and breathe it, but is it enough?
I always have maintained that there is something there for me, I feel that there is something I am meant to succeed in, but my fear is that it will pass me by without me even noticing. I have this emptiness that I know something big is meant to fill. I would quite happily continue with the job I am currently in forever, because it is the most fulfilling job I have ever had, I enjoy going in, I enjoy delivering subject matter I am actually interested in, and to see the young, hungry designers delivering the amazing results they do make everything worthwhile.
I have never had the passion to be famous, I think mentally I would struggle to deal with the demands of such notoriety, but I would like to feel respected in my field. I may never get the opportunity to feel that. It is the thought of this unfulfilment that saddens me, the thought that the only things that I have actually had any success in may not be enough and that my life drifts by, moments lost in a sea of disappointment and unfulfilment. This time next year I could have no job, no enjoyment and no direction, hell in 3 months time I could have all these things, or not as the case may be, and I admit, it scares me. It scares me a lot. I have to carry on though, keep going, because when I look back over the past two years, nothing could ever be that bad again, I could never return to the places I once took refuge, and worry those around me so much ever again. When people say you should never look back, only forward, these people must have never ever been through anything as such, because looking back is what drives you forward, praying never to let what once was such a darkness, turn out the light you carry now.
So, here’s to the future, whatever it may bring.
The easy answer is probably.
You see, I love design. Properly love it. When i’m out and about I analyse things I see, remember things that may influence stuff I do in future, and talk about it a hell of a lot. But I have this nagging doubt now that the things I used to like, which used to influence me, just don’t anymore.
For example, Kidrobot. Now don’t get me wrong I loved this stuff, you wouldn’t have found anyone more excited when they had a pop up shop in Selfridges in London, or when I found out they were actually opening a London store. However, I don’t want any of it anymore. I look at the Dunny ranges, and feel uninspired with them, i don’t care for them any more. Designers like Huck Gee, even though I would be (and have been in the past) destroyed for saying my reaction to his work is ‘meh’, I really feel that designers like this are living of their reputation, and are being far from creative anymore. What was once fun and different has been replaced with mundane repetition. I use Huck Gee as an example because this guy could spit on a piece of paper and some
fools collectors would pay exorbitant amounts for it. They are buying ‘Huck Gee’ rather than buying what they like.
Now I am not saying for one minute that I don’t think that Huck Gee isn’t a good designer, just one that has found his style, settled into a routine, churns out a few limited or one off pieces, sticks them on ebay, and makes a fortune. He then dishes out designs for the blind boxes, of which none have blown me away for a few years. I mean, if you could do that, make the money, then we all would - I just feel that this sends the wrong message out to up and coming designers.
I would never encourage my students to play it safe with design. Design is about taking risks, thats why we are designers. If I wanted to play it safe, or for them to play it safe I would tell them to go and work in Tesco. As a designer it is the opportunity to inspire those around you with your work and creativity that should drive you forwards. To not play it safe and to set trends and develop them rather than replicate and follow trends.
A designer I knew very well, when overlooked for a position within a consultancy that offered me a position actually said to me ‘Why did they offer YOU a job, I’m a much better designer than you?’. I have never forgot this, and it still pushes my creativity to this day. The simple answer is that I took risks. I didn’t care if someone told me my end product was crap, as long as I was happy that I had produced something that was my own, oh it may well have had influences from other designers, but the key was to have it inform and direct my own creativity, than than try to replicate what I wanted to produce in their style. This is what the other designer used to do. Take whatever was flavour of the month design-wise with them, and shoehorn it in whatever they were working on. Well of course their end product was supremely polished, because they knew what it should look like. Design should be about breaking new ground, opening up new experiences to the masses and encouraging others to explore their creativity. You should be exploring you own end product, and there is nothing more exciting, but fear-inducing as the halfway stage in a project where you don’t know whether its going to turn out ok or not.
Which leads me back to my original question, do I think I am a design snob?
Well for all intents and purposes, yes, possibly, probably. Do I care? Not really.
I wish that sometimes that some areas of the design industry would take the chip off their shoulder, the one that rubs so many ‘non-designers’ up the wrong way. Yes we can all laugh at the amateur use of comic sans, or clip art in someone’s design, but when all is said and done, they don’t need an ‘expert’ to patronise them. They know they aren’t designers, thats why they approach design agencies to assist them and their businesses, but on the token, this is why people are going it alone and not consulting design agencies. I know many people who have been patronised and belittled when dealing with ‘well-known’ consultancies, made to feel stupid, and forced into going along with the ‘style’ of the consultancy. This is where I feel ashamed to have been a part of this industry, people don’t trust designers, not like they used to. People are more informed these days and rightly can make an informed decision about the direction of their project. There is an air of arrogance that surrounds many designers, who find their own self importance much more of a concern than the needs of Mr Smith the local butcher who wants to revamp his business, but to maintain his heritage, snow ploughing him into things he may not have the fortitude to disagree with, considering they are the ‘professionals’.
Now I am not saying that I have not been guilty of this in the past, because I have been. You almost get pushed to be self confident to a fault in an agency, and because there is such an atmosphere of self competition, it can cause many issues to arise. I left the mainstream industry and I am totally glad that I did. I would not like to become the person I found myself becoming whilst working in the industry ever, and I would rather be snobby about design, and what I like and dislike within design than to think I knew better than everyone else. It is my opinion on design which matters to me, it isn’t my place to tell others what good and bad design is, we are created to be objective, and thats what everyone should be. Just because I don’t like comic sans, doesn’t mean you are wrong to like it…….
but you are.
I don’t know where I stand within design anymore, have I hit a point where the design cycle is passing me by and I am starting to get fed up of current trends? Maybe. All I know is that each and every day I find something new that I love, every day seeing something different, created by some of the most creative people in the world. Do I care that I won’t be fawning over Huck Gee’s new releases? Not at all, but then again, he probably doesn’t care what I think either.
…..give her a hand, though beware she is a bit of a muppet.