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Will I Use My Art Education in the Real World?

Will I Use My Art Education in the Real World?

Elisha-Rio Apilado

Taking what we learned in class to the real world.

Oh I’ve been in your shoes. Getting class before you’re late for the critique on those 20+ thumbnails you spent hours and hours doing the night before, er even morning of. Lugging around a stuffed binder of papers organized according to each deadline you’ve suffered through: highlighted internet research, thumbnails, rough sketches, finalized sketches, marker renderings. I’ve been there when the professor hands you a project sheet about something exciting and creative, yet, there lie those limitations; in bold Helvetica 15 point font, in case you missed it. I’ve had my head buried in textbooks studying anatomy. Not of the human body, but of each typeface — memorizing the different body parts.

“Sigh,” is what you’re thinking — “Yeah, I’m going through that right now.” Why are we learning all of this? I mean, what’s the purpose of exercises we find meaningless when we think about heading out into the real design world? Will our bosses really make us keep a binder full of sketches for every project that comes our way? Are we going to get a pop quiz on which era of graphic design history a design is influenced from? Come on, don’t tell me I gotta recite all the different parts of a font?!

No, of course not. All those things you learned in design school, all those nit-picky things your professor nagged you about are all for just practice. All of them, I swear. It’s practice until you perfect your design skills. It’s like becoming street smart, but just design smart. Ok, just see it this way, you’re a newborn Bambi trying to learn how to walk on your new four legs, and the more your practice, the more you get better at walking all on your own. It’s just like design school (just no animated deers involved). Your professors push these exercises on you not to frustrate you, but to have you perfect these small skills so that when you’re faced with them in the real design world, all on your own, you won’t have to go running back to your graphic design textbook or your sketchbook full of notes.

Everything happens for a reason. It applies to graphic design. Everything you learned at design school, holds a reason. Other than learning to have a designer’s eye, the smaller exercises count more than anything.

Today I found myself relying on what I learned in the past — that which I used to think was a waste of time. These exercises all help you to design efficiently, and quickly. In the design world, you’ve got to be quick on your toes. It’s all about problem-solving, only in visual terms. Those tight deadlines aren’t going to wait around for you to figure out how to make a design look asymmetrical or make a design influenced by the Art Nouveau era. Throughout school, your brain should have evolved into a file cabinet of fonts. It’s categorized the sans-serifs and memorized which ones have a taller, more condensed look.

Next: The Most Complained About of Small Exercises? →


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