Next year I will be going into my final year of studying Graphic Design at university and although I have only been on my placement for around 2 months, a lot of things have become very clear to me since I started working here. I figured I would share some of the things that I have realised I should have done differently:
DO: Ask for advice from a range of tutors
Ask your tutors for advice on your project, squeeze as much information as you can out of all of them and then squeeze a bit more. Make sure that you ask a range of different tutors, as each of them will have different opinions on the design, and something one tutor might hate, another might love. Pick out the bits of advice that inspire you, apply them to your project and develop it accordingly.
DON’T: Take constructive criticism negatively
Ask for advice from a single tutor and do exactly what they say immediately. Don’t feel uninspired when they say something negative about your work. It’s important to challenge the tutors and find out why they are suggesting what they are, make sure that they fully understand your project before you start taking their advice because if they have misunderstood something and you jump straight to doing what they say then your project can very quickly become completely irrelevant to what you intended.
DO: Stay organised
Keep organised, write yourself a list of all of the tasks that you need to complete and then break them down into something more manageable. By breaking down a large task into smaller sub-tasks, you are more likely to be able to tick some of the tasks off at the end of the day. This is a little bit more motivating than doing a days worth of work and still not being able to say you’ve officially ‘completed’ a task. Make a schedule so that you know roughly when you’re going to be doing work and when you’ll be chilling. That way you will be more productive in the time that you’ve dedicated to your work.
DON’T: Overwhelm yourself
Schedule an unachievable amount of tasks in one day and have no time to wind down. When you look at your huge list of tasks which are nowhere near completed, you will just feel defeated and probably go and binge watch your current favourite series. Also make sure that you do give yourself time to relax, working all day with no breaks will only cause a creative block. If you are set on a train of thought and want to carry on with a project then that is completely fine, creatives often get completely spontaneous sparks of inspiration, but make sure that you’re not overdoing it!
DO: Take efficient notes
Take notes in lectures, even if you take a blank sheet of paper and doodle all over it whilst you’re in there. You might look back at that sheet of paper and realise that it is a blueprint for one of the most amazing projects you have ever created. Make sure when you have an idea you get it down in as much detail as you can so that when you come back to it you are able to fully understand what you had in mind at the time.
DON’T: Get distracted
Sit in your lectures with a flood of ideas and then leave having taken no notes. It’s almost guaranteed that the minute you leave that lecture theatre you will be distracted by something, those ideas will quickly become diluted by other experiences and that might affect the quality of your project!
DO: Be productive
Get things done on the day if you can, after all ‘there is no time like the present’. If you look at your list of things to do and think that you can get one of those tasks finished that moment, then do it. This is the most efficient way to use your time and to get through those lists as quickly as possible.
Decide that you can just do it tomorrow, because that will quickly become next month, and then never get done! I remember in second year I needed to go and talk to the guys in the printer department for about 2 months, eventually it never got done and had I gone to see them my outcome would have no doubt been much better!
DO: Research and develop
Research and learn as many different techniques and skillsets as you can, the best kind of designer are those who have an awareness of all different elements of design. Being at university can only teach you so much, it’s important that you go out of your way to learn what you can. Watch some youtube videos and practise techniques that you like the look of, then if you need any help your tutors will definitely want to help you as you’ve shown the extra effort.
DON’T: Expect to improve without putting the effort in
Go to lectures and then go home and do nothing, you can’t expect to learn anything new if you aren’t willing to go out of your way to do so. Tutors can only fit so much information into one lesson and most of the time are more than happy to help out if you’ve done some research outside of hours.
Hopefully these few DO’s and DON’TS will help you get through uni without making as many mistakes as I did and help you organise your time to get the most you can out of your lectures and lessons.