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Are You a Good Art or Design Student? - Part 1

Are You a Good Art or Design Student? - Part 1

Christopher Simmons

We’re only a few weeks into the fall semester, but its never too early (or late) to think about what it takes to be a good — or even great — student. This is not about talent or smarts. Being a good student is a skill and an art in itself. Over the years I’ve noticed some of the qualities that help students excel. Some of these may seem obvious, but we all need reminding from time to time.

90% of life is showing up

I’m not sure who first said this, but they were right. You can’t learn if you’re not present — physically and mentally. With a full course load, a job and maybe even a life sometimes we all fall a little behind. When we do we start looking for places to make up the time we don’t have. We prioritize our commitments, usually completing the work for the instructor who will judge us most harshly if we show up empty handed. Then, having not done the required work for one of our more “understanding” instructors, we figure we’ll just skip that class, get the rest of our work done, and catch up like mad later on. This is a bad idea. You learn a lot just by being a part of the discussion and critique of other students’ work. You also have a responsibility to participate in those discussions. It may be embarrassing to show up with little, no or poor work, but it’s infinitely better than not showing up at all.

Show your work

Remember junior high school math class? You had to show your work, right? The same is true for Design school. Learning is not about arriving at the right answer, its about how you got there. Too often students bring in polished layouts or logos and leave their sketches at home. While part of becoming a good designer is developing a discerning eye and learning to edit your work, you don’t have to do it on your own. Give us a chance to help. I’m continuously amazed at the stunning and inspired work that gets left in the sketchbook. More than that, giving us (by us I mean your teachers an peers) a peek into your visual stream of consciousness gives us insight into your thought and working process. This can help us help you become unstuck when you find yourself in a creative rut.

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