First semester in design school: what did I learn?

I’m on semester break right now. I started studying in October 2016. It is March now and April 3rd the second semester starts. But what did I learn in the first semester other then some design basics?

Being able to draw is good, but not necessary.

In the first lessons we were told that our focus will not be on drawing. But the first lessons themselves were. We had, I think, two days where we were drawing 9am to 4:30pm that were not an actual drawing class (we had that later in the semester). There we learned a different approach to drawing like a designer and not like an artist. At least it was new for me and I loved it. Thanks to that, the first pages of my big sketchbook look great.

Always have a sketchbook with you.

Unlike high school, teachers and professors in art school love it when you draw or doodle in class! They even wonder why there is no one there with an open sketchbook and pen in hand. So, no matter what class you’re in: take your sketchbook and doodle! Comes in handy, when the class is about scientific working and is extremely boring. I went out of this class with some pretty good drawings. 😃
And the same is to be said about a flash drive! Always have something with you to save your work on!

I am not the most creative unique snowflake out there.

I learned that the hard way. I know I have never been the only and most creative person but I was still good enough to be some kind of special. I had people telling me, that they would love to be able to draw like me and was asked to draw something for others. But in design or art school everyone has a somewhat creative background and some even already have a style that you envy. Which left me with some kind of drawing anxiety. I just realized that some people are so much more talented and have better ideas than me and it drives me crazy. I want to be the one, where everyone says: “Oh, that is such a great idea! It looks amazing!“. I don’t want to be the one to envy others. Something I will have to work on next semester.

My school accepts students easily.

While getting to know the other students in my class, I realized that some of them got in without even showing a portfolio. I prepared a big and thought through portfolio which took a lot of time and hard work, while that one guy just sent them some photos he took.  And I thought: Why did I put so much effort in this? Why did I even worry about not getting in, when they seem to accept everyone who is willing to pay? It made me question my school choice right at the beginning but I’m still there, because now I would still be afraid that other schools wouldn’t accept me.

We do not get taught how to use the design programs properly and probably never will.

Luckily, I have the best host mum ever who made it possible for me to use the adobe creative cloud and I was able to learn by myself how the programs work pretty well. Because when it came to actually work on the projects we have, it’s more of a learning by doing thing. We had 4 classes of 3 hours each where we were introduced to Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator and that was it. The professor who controls this says that we don’t need to learn that. And other classes taught us about the same: In the area we work, we are mostly the ones who make the concepts and the plans. Someone else is supposed to ‚build‘ the actual poster for example. So learning by doing it is.

There is a lot more to my future job than I thought.

Yep, I thought in graphic design people tell you what they want, like a poster, and you build it. But that’s not quite the way it works. They come to you and say: “I am a lawyer and I want to start my own business. Help me.“ So what a designer has to do is to ask the right questions, analyse the situation ( all the marketing stuff), make an effective plan according to that and then you design. You do so much more than just designing a logo or a website. There is quite a lot of thought and work behind what you end up seeing. I kind of knew that before, but the first semester made it much clearer.
But for the most part it was exactly what I thought it would be and I do not regret choosing graphic design. I was a little concerned about the client consultation at the beginning, because I am just not really good at talking and presenting things but I think this will help me to get out and be more comfortable speaking to people. So that’s it for the first semester. Let’s see what the next one will bring.
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