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Important Art Skills They Don't Teach in Design School

Important Art Skills They Don't Teach in Design School

Elisha-Rio Apilado

Art schools teach you the fundamentals of art. Your curriculum probably covered art history, how it evolved from ancient times and how it has developed in recent years — the evolution of technology has guided art from canvas to computer screen. Art school also covered topics such as the elements of art (line, shape, color, etc.) and has given some training on basic art tools such as, brushes, pens, mouse, tablets, etc.

Design school makes you into a better artist and keeps you up to date with the trends as well as educates you on the basics. All that artwork you do throughout college is good practice — you draw, design, sharpen your designer’s eye and hone your hand skills.

But what does art school NOT teach you?

Design is an ongoing process.
You don’t just attend design school and become a master for life. Art school is not the end of your design education. You must be proactive and keep learning. Just as you’ve witnessed in art history class, art continues to evolve as society and technology does. Staying up to date with the latest trends, software updates and industry news will allow you to stay in touch with design and also make you a better designer.

Be ready to handle criticism from a client.
More than likely the clients you work for will not have any design experience whatsoever. All throughout design school, you have had critiques with your professors and peers who have the proper design skills and mindset to give constructive criticism. Clients on the other hand, will critique according to how they want their company/service/product to look. When you do come across the criticisms that lack design terms or justifications, stay calm and explain your design choices to your client. The more you can educate them about design, the better they will understand. Plus, hopefully, this will avoid arguments.

There is no syllabus in the real world.
Back in art school, you were given a syllabus outlining the expectations of the class and the dates of critiques including project deadlines. School deadlines are nowhere near real work deadlines. In the real world, your boss doesn’t act as your professor nor is there a syllabus. They expect you to know what you’re doing — that’s why they hired you in the first place! You’re expected to work hard, and produce work quickly, efficiently while also maintaining your eagle eye to perfect each production order. Design in the real world is fast-paced, there’s no time to mess up and there’s definitely no time to break, pin up your work and get a critique of its progress.

Be your own art director. Unless you work for a company that has a fully staffed creative department, at times you must become your own art director. Even if you have a boss serving as your director, you will still need to have the ability to critique your work and point out/fix the kinks. Having a class critique in school was a privilege to learn how others may view your work and keep you open minded. Take what you learned in the classroom and apply it to the real world.

Next: Clients Won’t See You as an Artist →


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