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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

The most complained about of the small exercises? The dreaded Concept books. The ones on the syllabus that requires you, the designer, documenting every move you make during a quarter or semester long project. It’s the one that has you scrambling to the office supply store for a 2" wide binder and a couple dividers.

The categories are: Research (highlighted), Design Brief, Thumbnails, Marker Renderings, Computer Generated Drafts, and finally the Final Draft. Going through this long creative process is required to make your understand the steps thoroughly. It helps you explore other ideas and options and understand your concept. You become one with the project. You live, breathe and eat it up so that when you get up to the front of the class to explain it and sell your idea, there’s no hesitation or stuttering involved. You become confident with your concept.

Now, although a real job doesn’t require you to purchase those materials, it’s good to still go through that process, only a bit quicker. Deadlines are going to haunt you and you have to be on your toes. The Concept Book isn’t going to be there in the office holding your hand and letting you go back and forth throughout your sketches. You’ve got to handle your creative process on your own at your own desk. And of course, becoming one with the project you’re given at work will allow you to better design for your client. Researching their competitors and discovering the brand image that makes their company only allows you to get into the color palette, typography and aesthetic of the final design.

In design school, you must have studied the anatomy of type more than your actual body. We’re kind of like med students, only our only healing power is to make visual elements feel complete. With the background of learning the history of graphic design and the styles from way back when, our brains have formed a small office full of typography. Working in the real world doesn’t allow you to go through your Font Book and make multiple type specs sheets. You have to be familiar with many fonts, don’t just stick with your comfort zone (mine was Century Gothic and Futura). You need to be able to attach an emotional feeling to each typeface you come across. Adjectives should be paired up with each typeface and memorized so that when you’re about to design an ad for a hospital for ill children, you won’t be choosing Curlz.

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Here’s another tip for you: Learn your tools. Your weapons of action are usually InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Bridge and Acrobat. Although learning the quick keys to each is necessary, learning how each design program can work with one another is vital knowledge. Believe me, it will save your life when you hop to work. It’s saved my butt a million times. Most times you have to work with what you’ve got, so sometimes clients will give you a logo that’s fuzzy or a file in PDF that needs to be resized. Annoying, yes I know, but it’ll be a breeze to do when you’ve learned how to fix these problems easily with the tools of your choice. Illustrator and Adobe PDF files go swell together. Knowing your weapons can give you (Photoshop with pixels and Illustrator with vectors) oh so helpful. Your brain not only has a file cabinet full of fonts, it’s got a bulletin board full of quick keys and shortcuts that you’ve got down.

In the real design world, time seems to be the ultimate limitation for our creative process, but with the way we were trained to think on our toes throughout design school, we are able to manage. So next time you’re in class grunting about getting paper cuts from having to organize all the sheets for your Concept Book, just think of how much you’re gaining to better prepare your mind for the real world.

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