Chances are you have an opinion. My degree taught me invaluable lessons in confidence, learning and just how much sleep deprivation I could handle before a deadline, but did it make me a ‘good creative’? I’m not so sure.
The way modern artistic and design disciplines are taught hasn’t changed all that much in the past century; the responsibility of artistic and learning direction lies with tutors and the briefs that are set. And whilst these directed skills are invaluable in early learning, such a regimented control in what students learn and produce may well fall short on what is generally most coveted by the design industry: a willingness to take a chance.
There is a reason for all this education lamentation because it’s that time again. You can actually smell the spray mount walking past each and every creative education institution in the country. D&AD’s New Blood showcased hundreds of graduating hopefuls in a rather cramped holding pen taking over the once spacious Spitalfields Market.
In the past month students and industry alike have been doing the rounds, making small talk, drinking cheap wine and attempting to judge work on what students have managed to produce on a 6x4m space. It’s tense – just flipping over a business card is reason enough to be accosted by three eager faces, desperate for any connection and polite beyond reason.
That panic is partly due to reading one too many Daily Mail ‘all hope is lost’ graduate articles, but I fear that a mistrust of the unknown is a far greater driver. For reliance on even the most dynamic tutor’s experience and up-to-the-minute design handbooks, is a poor substitute for a healthy curiosity about the world and the people in it.
Universities and industry alike need to start practicing what they preach, it is they that need to be encouraging students and grads to get away from their university bubble, learn something new and step outside of the designers only sphere.
A move away from regimented learning and conversations that start and end within agency walls, may encourage students to think and talk to a wider world. For designers who can only communicate to other designers won’t really make very interesting designers at all.