Most people who read this blog have scouted the about page and know I’m currently taking a course in graphic design. To my family, this was predictable, but I never expected it. Nevertheless, I’m half way through it and I wanted to talk about how I feel about design.
When I stated this blog, and when I signed up for the course, I was really excited about design. I read blogs on it and took on every single opportunity I could to exercise my opinion or knowledge (which was sought out in my circle of friends and co-workers). I was passionate, hungry, and excited. I felt like I didn’t have an outlet for all the excitement inside me and that’s why I created this blog and signed up for the course.
Today I feel very different about design than I did back then. I still have 101 opinions on designs I see, and people still seek me out for advice…but I don’t feel like I’ve grown at all, which is extremely important to me.
This is probably going to be a horrible analogy, but I had a revelation a few weeks ago. I feel like I’ve walked into a shiny new wood workshop. There’s tools lining the walls and machines scattered throughout the floor, and a storeroom full of wood. I feel like I can look at a drill, and know how to make a hole in the wood. I can look at an iron and know how to use it to make a dint in my wood go away. I know all of the tools very well, I know how to use them, I know what they do. But I don’t know how to make a table… or anything else for that matter.
I feel like I’m missing a set of instructions that’s supposed to get me started or guide me. I feel like I have all of these tools around me that I can use but I don’t have a clue what to do with them. It’s like I’ve been taught to use the tools but no one’s taught me how to make a table. Without knowing how, I can’t experiment to make my own way, or make horrible mistakes and lose fingers inside machines (grow).
I wondered if I was having trouble because there’s so many choices and I didn’t know what to choose, or because I was lacking ideas, planning, or confidence. I think it’s safe to say it’s confidence and instructions…
Just before my course started I had moved back to Australia from the United States, after living in the States for 6 years. I’d also said goodbye to my boyfriend of x years just days before the course started. I still have no idea where I am on the map or how to navigate the public transport system. I don’t have a clue what’s where, and when I started this course all I had going for me was I knew how to use the tools before most people in the class.
I don’t admit it publicly (except now), but I feel like I went to the states in the prime of an impressionable period (for lack of better terminology). I don’t feel like I fit in either country because I left my home and assimilated somewhere else, only to be slapped back onto my home turf after I was beginning to get used to things. I still have so much influence from America that I feel a little out of place here.
EVERYTHING I know about design, and all the products, services, and companies I absorbed as part of my world are US based. I can’t reference companies in class without some sort of visual because they didnt “grow up” with it. They don’t know who the major banks are and what their logo’s look like, they havent seen the advertisements McDonalds has over there, none of the design things I absorbed are relevant anymore. To make matters worse, when they reference I feel like an idiot because I don’t know what they’re talking about because I didnt grow up with it. I hope they just think I’m weird and don’t feel like that when I do it.
After I started the course I also discovered I couldnt design things like the other students could. I don’t know what it is; I want to design the things they do, but I just can’t. For example, one of the students created a poster with diagonal bars incorporated into part of the design. They looked amazing. It’s the sort of thing I want to do but never seem to be able to pull off. Another one did an entirely flat two colour cartoon picture that I found myself asking for a price on because I wanted a copy. I could do that, but I couldnt pull it off like he did. Another student hand painted parts of her design, and another made her whole design look like it was cut out and hung up in a room. I have the skills to do all of these things but I just can’t seem to pull it off. I don’t know why.
After I presented my poster, which was a wanted poster (work in progress), two students ran into me outside class and commented on how they loved it. I felt really good because I was terrified it was nothing compared to their work, and it made me more confident and I worked harder on my next assignment, which helped my confidence grow too.
I went into this course confident and excited….but so many things happened and it built up on me and I let it get me down. I cannot rely on other people to give me confidence; I must find it within myself. I’m going to work at alleviating my issue with missing instructions, lack of “Australian knowledge”, and confidence over the next few months until I’m back on my feet. It’s a tough hurdle but I’ll find my way over it.
Here’s a list of how I’m going to try to defeat this hurdle:
- I’m going to exercise and eat properly, because that will make me feel better and if I feel better I’ll design better and become more confident and excited again.
- I’m going to research different design styles. This might help me understand what makes each style unique and may help me figure out how to make it work in my work.
- I’m going to work harder and more organised in the second half of this course.
- I’m going to take a photo of a design at least once a week on my way to/from school and comment on what I like and don’t like about it, with at least 5 points for each….and I’m going to visit the companies website and list 5 interesting facts about the company and get to know the logo.
- I’m going to re-subscribe to design blogs and read up on the train to and from school or when I get time.
I’ll let you know how I go, and if you have any advice or suggestions for me please feel free to comment!