Design Is About Motivation, Not Education
When I first started working as a graphic designer I had no real educational experience with design. I had studied a general media course, but I have no degree. I found myself an apprenticeship which I got more through passion than a portfolio, and I worked hard and taught myself everything I needed to know. I consider myself self taught.
Usually I find that is only the older generation of graphic designers who can say the same. The vast majority of people now have been told that education is the only way to a good career. I disagree. University is a useful way to learn about a career, but only through working and experiencing the real scenarios can you see that no perfect university project can set you up for a picky, indecisive client who wants what they want because they think its best.
I’m not saying that there is any easy way to learn this, but there is so much that nobody can prepare you for. The problem with university is that the graphic design industry is such a fast moving industry that no technology, processes or methods are here to stay. The problem with an ever-evolving industry is that it’s the opposite of what university is for. University is a platform from which to develop a good basis from which to use as the foundations for a career. It is sad to see that so many graduates have to resort to free work and internships to get by – it seems employers understand that education is not equal to experience. No designer should have to work for free.
So what knowledge and foundations can university provide? The answer here is simple; design principles and a good understanding of the history of design. I can’t fault that. I can however point out that all of this information is readily available on the internet, in books, and from other designers, all you have to do is search for it.
Perhaps it just takes a certain type of person to sit down and teach themselves something, but with the right drive there is nothing stopping you from learning everything yourself. I find it quite surprising that university fees, which have rocketed in the UK particularly of late, could be completely avoided if the person just found the time to teach them self. At the end of the day it’s not about education, it’s not about experience, it’s about motivation. Education can be gained (whether formally or informally), experience can be found (whether through practice, or roles obtained through passion), but motivation is what drives you to make something of yourself.
So next time you think about your design career, regardless of if you’ve been to university, taught yourself or are deciding what to do with your life, the responsibility is on your shoulders. There is nothing you cannot achieve if you want it enough.