This past Saturday, I attended the annual AIGA Student Portfolio Review at MassArt, Boston.
The event started with all the reviewers, corralled, anticipating and chit-chatting amongst each other about what they do and what they expect to see. As the doors opened, the sight of all the students, looking nice and nervous at the same time, was quite exhilarating. It reminded me of a time not to long ago, when I was on their side of the table.
As I went from person to person, looking at posters, books, and corporate stationery, I quickly realized that the most needed advice to the students, was that of the so-called “Big-Picture”. There were obvious signs that the students have diligently practiced their craft; typography was tight and craft was clean. So after seeing this, I began to tell the students to relax, and that I was not there to nit-pick about un-kerned 12 point type.
I was very interested in hearing what the plans were for these students post-graduation. Where would they take their design skills? A job? Graduate Program? Freelance?
Because of the economy, most students had no idea what was in store next. They did understand however, how important it is to create valuable connections not only to other designers, but companies as well.
I felt I was able to provide some insight to the value of creating connections, and some of the methods that connections can be made. The first buzz word to arise is “Facebook”, then “Twitter”, then the common phrase “I need a website, but don’t want to learn Dreamweaver.” When I here this, I smile politely, and recommend a more realistic approach that is content management based. I explain that HTML websites are OK at best, and then go on to explain the power and simplicity of systems like WordPress and Indexhibit. Their eyes go wide.
One student in particular, I found was looking for the Big Picture talk. Michael Deal is a design student who loves information graphics and the Beatles.
He found in his design class, while working on an information graphics project, that lots of connections can be made withing a particular subject. He told me quite a few times, that he wished he had an entire class about this subject (information design).
We talked for quite some time about how he could apply his skills in design to not just posters of information, but to business models, products, and events. Probably the best conversation about design happening in the room.
These students at the MassArt Review seemed like fast paced, social network savvy individuals who seem satisfied with their schooling. I could see the wanting though, to take on not just design projects, but larger goals. Overall, a feeling I got from many of the students: “I can do graphic design…now what? How do I make an impact?”
I guess my last bit of advice here would be: Branch out, make connections to what ever can help you move forward. Remember, regular people are your clients, continually get to know the world they live in, and you will be fine.
Michael Deal - "Beatles Citing Beatles"