I've always wondered who would win in a straight fight between Good and Evil.
Thanks to Google Trends we can now find out.
Evil weren't even trying, were they?
Obviously, I've been thinking a lot this week about the future of graphic design and graphic design courses. And something is troubling me - the language of these graphic design courses.
Before I start I'd like to set some terms of reference.
I have a BA (Hons) degree in Graphic Design. I graduated in the 90's with a 2:1.
Generally, I think a university education is a good thing. I believe 10% of what you learn in about your chosen subject, the other 90% is about life. The emotional highs and lows, the freedom from being away from home, the loneliness from being away from home. Having to handle difficult situations on your own, meeting people outside your comfort zone. That kinda thing.
I fully believe that a design education should concentrate on the possible not the probable. You should be encouraged to explore, experiment, excite, enjoy.
The vocational stuff can, and will, come later.
And lastly, I am in no way being critical of any particular college. Any comments I make are general. Any links are usually the first result in Google.
OK. It seems to me that the language of design education is far removed from the profession of design. For example, who on earth works in Lens Based Media? Who classes themselves as a Visual Communicator? What's a Live Brief? Who describes work as Professional Practice? What era is Computer Studies from?
Do you see what I mean?
Sure, I know what they're getting at, and I understand that the world of communication is so fluid that nailing down a name for a module (don't get me started on modules) is difficult. But some of these would be really easy to change.
And nowadays I suppose every student has access to a digital camera and probably a decent video camera. So how about Photography? Film? Film making? Too restrictive? Image making? Too illustrationy? How about Camera Work? Or just Images? Shots? Clips? Shots and Clips? Vignettes?
I like Shots and Clips.
2. Visual Communication - I suppose this is the hardest area. I can fully appreciate that Graphic Design is dying as a specific term, whilst Design is growing in stature. So how about just Design? BA Design course and you can branch out in to any area. Surely the basic principles are the same? Too broad? How about Communication Design?
I prefer just Design.
3. Live Brief - this one irks me the most. It's a dated, patronising term, although I know how important Live Briefs are. I sometimes set them. But no-one in the industry says Live Brief, we just say brief. Or Project or Job. So how about we have Briefs set by the college and Job's set by outside agencies, or clients? Maybe if each college gave it a job number (like we do) it would be obvious that it was a brief from an external client.
Or while we're at it, how about just Internal and External Briefs?
4. Professional Practice - Simple = Industry.
5. Computer Studies - this should just be banished. I imagine it is totally impossible to complete any degree in Europe or the US without using a computer, so do we really have to make it a separate module? If anything you'll be studying the programs, the tools of your future trade. So how about Photoshop studies or InDesign lessons?
So, I've just finished a Design degree where I specialised in Brand Communication. One of my favourite modules was Shots and Clips as I hope to work as a director in the future. I'll probably end up being self employed so I found the Industry module really useful. I got to work on some great projects and I won a few External Briefs which won great reviews. I have a thorough understanding of Photoshop which has given me the confidence to go straight in to the big wide world of employment. Wish me luck.
As usual I don't have all the answers. I'm not an education guru but I've seem something that's broken and I'm hoping to start a debate on how to fix it.
Does anyone have any other suggestions?
Seen on some student work (from Glasgow School of Art) yesterday.
I've decided Channel 4 News has the best World Cup graphics.
The nicest thing is the design of their league tables. But seeing as their coverage only amounts to about 60 seconds or so, it's really hard to grab a picture.
Here's some I have managed to catch.
Had the D&AD talk thing this afternoon (by the way it wasn't a talk like a lecture, just an informal chat with some tutors).
Went really well. Most of them seemed incredibly chuffed that I had taken the time to write some stuff down, I hope they didn't think it was condescending. I don't think they did.
Hopefully we'll visit a few of the colleges later in the year and give a talk to the students. Maybe even set a few briefs. The tutors seemed most interested in the way we were set up and how we run the business.
Surprisingly most of the tutors said the 'design is the new management consultancy' thing resonated with them. One college is even running 'thinking tools' sessions with a big employer locally. Pretty interesting, huh?
Only one thing troubled me. Everyone I spoke to said they ran an 'ideas led course' which is great and my own personal approach to design. And obviously a lot of what I said is very ideas based. But I think I've taken for granted that people know the basics; leading, kerning, spatial relationships, colour theory, etc. That kind of basic stuff is the foundation from which you can go on and have lots of wacky ideas. We certainly don't want a whole generation of designers with wacky unkerned ideas. Might need to address that at a later date.
I asked one tutor what the biggest dilemma facing her students was. She replied that they get intimidated by the ratio of students to jobs and some of the decent ones lose confidence and so don't pursue a design career.
Didn't have time to look round the show, just walked through on the way out (must go back later on). Work looked good. Better than other years. But I was walking fast.
Met one of my old tutors. Strangely enough, whilst other colleges are falling over themselves to invite us to give a lecture, our own college* doesn't seem arsed. Funny old world.
* Where I work, several of us went to the same college.
OK, I listened to all the comments and I've amended my thoughts. I've not got anywhere near cracking this and I don't think I was ever going to, but we've made a good start.
I'm going to come back to this over the next few weeks and I'm going to ask you to help. So be prepared. I think there are common areas emerging and hopefully we can all agree these and then flesh them out.
Meg is the one who's troubled me most. Firstly because she's got a great website and secondly because I think she's right. This reads more like guidance for a graphic designer today - not in ten years time. But I'll go with it and see what happens.
The talk is 1pmish tomorrow. Feel free to add any last minute comments.
I'll let you know how I get on.
1. Find inspiration in everything.
Graphic designers can't operate in a vacuum any more. Gone are the days when you could sit in your room creating beautiful layouts in wonderful isolation. So collaborate; meet illustrators, ad agencies and film makers. Make friends with a copy writer. Visit an architect. Listen to product designers. The more interesting people you meet, the more interesting you'll become. Hopefully.
2. Present passion not perfection.
20 years of Mac means we've lost a lot of energy from graphic design, so let's try and get it back. Turn the computer off, get up from the desk, draw, sketch, make roughs, present your roughs. Always remember a sketch sells an idea better than a finished visual, because the client uses their imagination to buy into the idea. We recently did a whole presentation on post it notes. Present passion not perfection.
3. Create and understand content.
Everyone is talking about content these days, from ad agencies to brands. In fact they've been talking about it for ages and it's starting to filter down to graphic designers. Communication is getting more complex and more varied and looking less like sales pitches and more like stories, so you're going to have to understand great content. Or at least know where to find it.
4. Understand your clients and their clients.
Read lots and read everything. Understand your audience and how society consumes media and design. Never forget that not everyone likes Big Brother or the World Cup. Think about the end user, which leads me nicely into...
5. Understand usability.
Great usability is the ultimate in good design. This is so obvious, but we're only just starting to talk about it. There are so many examples around us everyday, the Underground map, the BBC News website, almost all Apple products. As David Ogilvy said, "You can't save souls in an empty church".
6. Realise that design is the new management consultancy.
An odd one this, but it's an idea that's starting to get a lot of airtime. Who better have an impact on a business than the problem solvers? The ones who can generate ideas from a blank sheet of paper? The ones who create new ideas all day, every day. The designers. You will hear a lot more about this, trust me.
7. Remember that ideas will always transcend stuff.
The world of communication is changing as I write this. Who know what it will look like in 10 years time? Maybe one day you'll be designing an animation for a 1 pixel square screen? Maybe you'll be putting a logo on the roof of a building so it's visible on Google Earth. Whatever happens you'll still need ideas.
Further to this post - a friend of mine has just emailed me his thoughts. Very different to mine.
So brave commenters, what do you think to these?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1. It all about communication and if you can’t do that you might as well be an artist
2. Understand business, and believe it or not it’s not all do on Macs, remember it’s all about the money. See the bigger picture of how what you do, not only the effects on your target audience and their business but the people around you and your business
3. Be disposable, don’t be too proud/precious, you are not creating the Mona Lisa. Have ideas, lots of them, don’t be afraid, however in reality there are such things as bad ideas, no matter what they tell you
4. Create Content – I don’t think it’s the Graphic designers responsibility to create content, but more to understand it and how it is most effectively consumed, I always say that the client knows their subject better than anyone else but the issue is that they have is that they cannot communicate it, that where we come in
5. Know your subject - read lots read anything and everything – understand your audience and how society consumes media – you may think that you understand popular culture and don’t forget that not every likes Big bother / football no matter how passionate you are about it, it takes all sorts. Understand your medium(s) inside out and embrace technology.
6. Money – understand the value of a good idea vs budget. Clients / Competitors can all buy macs with lovely filters and illegible fonts but what they can’t do is have the idea,
7. Learn about design effectiveness, accessibility and corporate and social responsibility you will be hearing a lot more about it in future
8. Be honest at all times, there are too many bullshiters out there, good or bad, people will generally understand, take it on board and respect you more for it, because they know where they are with you
9. Talk and be socialable and never shit on anyone it’s a small world
10. And don’t forget it’s all about the money
I've always wanted to take part in Open House.
Held every September, buildings of architectural importance in London open their doors to the public. It's been running since 1998 (might be '99) and every single year I've missed it. Weddings, birthdays, family holidays, every single damn year I've missed it. I've just discovered that I'm going to miss this year's because of a conference. I can't believe it. It can't go on for ever...
To make up for it (in some small way) I went on an architectural tour organised by the same people, yesterday. The tour centred around London's Docklands.
To be honest it wasn't that great. I hate slagging people like this off because it's all run by volunteers etc etc, but still, from a critical point of view it wasn't great. I can think of worst ways to spend a Saturday morning, but it was a tad lightweight for £18. Moan over.
Not really sure what The Building Centre is all about but they had a great model of London.
Something to do with the Olympics, I think. I bet it's boom time all the way to 2012 for these modelmakers.
From Store Street we made our way to St Katherine's Dock and then on to Wapping.
St Katherine's Dock was pretty dull. The best thing on the tour was the second thing on the tour. This is called the Wapping Project. It's a disused pumping station that failed to get Lottery funding and so had to scale back it's plans. So they could only afford to do the essential stuff. You get this wonderful mix of old and new. When we were there it was set up for a wedding. What a fantastic place to have a wedding.
The place is amazing. There's a lesson there for developers. (Architects Shed 54). I must visit again.
On to Canary Wharf. I love Canary Wharf. Pretty much all of it was built by Canadians, hence the North American feel, Canada Tower etc. Cabot Square is named after the guy that discovered Canada.
When the Government decided to regenerate the Docklands they waived all planning laws. You could build what you liked where you liked.
Interestingly when they built the wonderful Jubilee Line extension they employed architect Roland Paoletti to oversee the project. One of his guidelines was to insist all the new tube stations had as much natural light as possible. That seems to have worked really well. Again, lessons to be learned there.
One of my personal highlights was when someone said, "that's the best concrete I've ever seen" at Canary Wharf tube station.
On to Excel and the Royal Docks.
To sum up; a good way to spend a Saturday morning, probably more interesting if you're not familiar with that part of London, bit steep at £18 (they don't need to make it cheaper, just make the content a bit more substantial).
Xooglers means Ex-Googlers means people who used to work at Google. Mainly it's written by Doug Edwards who used to be Director of Consumer Marketing and Brand Management at Google. He doesn't post very often, but when he does they're fascinating, touching and very well written.
It's an incredibly fascinating story and also a cautionary tale for brands, brand managers and cartoonists. Especially cartoonists. I thoroughly recommend you read it. You might need some help however, and that's what I'm here for.
The best thing I've read in ages. Enjoy.
I walked by this earlier and wondered what the hell it was.
Some simple Google detective work led me to this website. Turns out it's a series of meeting rooms and conference facilities you can use if you are trying to attract business to London. They have a huge 3D model of London and an interactive list of who owns which buildings. Oh, and clip on tie microphones.
In fact, the whole thing seems like a good idea. I'd like to visit.