Design in Education and Careers

By: Cade Gromos

Throughout high school and most of our academic careers leading up to college, we are told that we should follow our dreams and do what we want to do. Although this may be the positive affirmation we need to succeed, we don’t always get the full picture of what our “dream” entails, especially when that dream is design. Design is taught in many ways but with this comes some issues within the system. That being said there are some improvements that can be made. Because of these issues and faults within the teaching of design, aspiring designers are not always prepared for the real world and finding a career for themselves.

Maybe one of the most present and obvious issues is that teachers and education boards cant afford to continue teaching the current, more orthodox modes of instruction. There is a severe lack of funding for tools and materials necessary. This includes anything from technology and resources like macbooks and the adobe creative suite, to general necessities like printer ink and paper. Not only this but the students themselves are not always able to afford the things needed to create their work. Another issue would be instruction itself. Even more so than just textbook learning, students need to be able to understand the processes. Graphic design requires students to engage in problem solving situations and make use of their “aesthetic sense” for the development of designs. Currently study is being done in Muscat, at Sultan Qaboos University, to further understand creativity in graphic design from a psychological perspective. The objectives of which are to deeper understand the role of creativity in graphic design, to investigate creativity from a psychological perspective and to identify the role of culture, cognition and learning in the field of graphic design. Psychological theories would be discussed with respect to creativity and the role an individual’s psyche plays in creativity and graphic design education. This new way of understanding would help faculty and educators better understand what students need to succeed other than just a technical understanding. In addition to this, if teachers were to be more aware of the processes involved in design education, a brighter future can be ensured for students in the field of graphic design not only in higher education but in their careers as well.

Graphic design as a whole is constantly changing and evolving. There will always gonna be a certain trend or style the public is looking for or advancements in technology used in the field or whatever it may be, so being able to adapt our way of teaching and learning is extremely beneficial to students, teachers, and the public.

Often times there can be a disconnect in design education between how to use the tools and processes needed to create works, and the more archival side of design like knowing the background, history, or language. Having a defined system for feedback is important in building confidence and creativity and in turn, not only increases student output, but allows for more meaningful work to be created. This would be done through emphasis on the teacher to student relationship and face to face feedback, which would allow for less of a focus on grades by students. Even something as simple as having a more unified vocabulary would help students better understand what they’re learning and creating, especially so in cases of international students. At the University for the Creative Arts in the UK  Theory lecturers and professors have begun to collaborate with linguists to improve students’ understanding of critical thinking, analysis and evaluation of work.

Collaborative learning can be anything from having a small group working alongside professionals to small groups working together in a classroom setting. For example something like dialogues or multi studio in gdes at vcu or the cohort system within the program. Though there may be a division or designation of groups, being able to exchange thoughts in these settings is highly valuable. The benefits of something like this are pretty self explanatory

This would allow for an expansion of ideas, processes, approaches, ways of thinking, and everything else really. This would then create deeper and more personal connections to be made and in turn helps the production and quality of work. In individual learning you might tend to play it safe or rely on usual more familiar techniques. whereas in a group setting you’re exposed to more diverse and experimental techniques

As far as production goes, when it’s just you work can easily become daunting. It’s easy to get stressed or feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. However a group setting allows for a little more relaxation and wiggle room within the work and less pressure overall on the individuals involved. In addition to everything else, not only will the quantity of the work be greater, but the quality will be too. In a statement from the AIGA, it was said that “the presence of graphic design content in college courses or curricula, or even its designation as an area of emphasis or concentration, does not automatically indicate that the degree program adequately prepares students for professional practice.” It is more than just learning.

After looking at many dissertations and professional accounts about being prepared for careers, the one point that they all had in common was that it takes time. You shouldn’t go into it thinking you’re gonna be part of a companies design team immediately. A lot of designers said that just gaining personal experience can take two or more years and its recommended to start of with freelance work before jumping into a career

Although in higher paying states and urban areas like DC or New York, salaries can increase to upwards of 75k a year. Below is a chart showing who the largest employers of designers are.

These might not be the highest numbers but designers seem to be pretty happy.

According to the census bureau, within the past couple years about 82% of designers said they were satisfied with their job, and in a recent survey from Wired, 85% percent of designers polled said they would recommend the job to a friend.

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