I spent my Sunday afternoon, in a corner of Costa, reading a book and listening to spotify (as hipster is that sounds) and contemplated alot of things. For starters, I realised I've only been aware of the graphic design practice for about 6 years now. Albeit, I was doing it before I even realised I was; forum signatures and even some film editing. But when I finished 1st year, I still didn't have a fucking clue why typography was so important. So years later, I'm in a place where I love design and everything about it; As if it had always been in my life to this day. Weird right?
But I think whats important is how I got there. Working alongside your peers is one of the biggest motivational kicks. The first couple of years don't really matter; you're all trying to fit in and make friends (well, thats my take anyway). But once 3rd year starts and you finally have grades dangled in front of you, shit gets real. Not only is your grade being put forward to your final degree, but you're also competing with other peers. It probably wasn't until the second half of 3rd year that I realised I didn't quite fully understand good, effective design. My grades were inconsistent. If you make something that works really well, it doesn't matter; you have no idea why. It then just becomes a game of chances; You make something and just hope for the best.
My old boss from a previous part time job, explained his take on learning how to do a task. In my old job, I worked in the cash room, where all the money is kept. Part of the job was inputting all of the figures and information into this computer that collated it all on a daily basis, to keep track of the income of the business. As he explained it to me, he said that there is people who seem to pick it up instantly, where as others take a bit longer. The reason being was that some people just hear the instructions and learn that if they input a, b and c, then the task is complete. However, they don't understand why they just inputted a, b and c. This is why others who take longer, are wanting to know exactly what and why they are inputting the information they are. So if something did go wrong, then they would understand the process. I thought this was an interesting analogy for design of any kind; there's the very black and white solution to what you're doing but you really need to understand why it works. Because if you don't, it's a game of chances. Hoping for the best.
My second 'thought-of-the-day' was, are graphic designers artists? In a lot of ways, I don't think they are. Not in the same way other traditional artists are anyway. Considering art is constantly at battle with public popularity, graphic design is almost the opposite. Depending on the purpose, graphic design can be used to generate more public interest. Good typography is invisible right? But that is ofcourse, depending on the purpose. Graphic Design could also be used in very different ways. Provoking alternative ways of seeing something. Pushing the boundaries of public taste and opinion on matters. So perhaps that means we as designers, have a responsibility to test these waters and to keep pushing design in new areas.
From my experience so far in the industry, there seems to always be that safe option, open to designers, whenever tackling a brief. Ofcourse, not every brief that comes your way, is suitable for this kind of exploration. But the ones that can, should be exploited and pushed further!