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16 Year Old Seeking Advice On All Things Graphics

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by Ollie Crook, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. Ollie Crook

    Ollie Crook New Member

    Before reading I would like to establish that although I am 16 I would like to be treated as an adult and after reading the information below if the only reply you have is "Your too young yet" then its alt+left arrow for you!
    Hello my name is Ollie and I am a 16 year old currently in college aspiring to become a web or graphics designer.
    Currently in my first year it is now come to the point in my life where I must look towards the future and begin to direct my life down the path that I would like it to go. I would like to become a web or graphics designer (I have not yet decided which path to take) and I am posting on this forum to seek general advice about the world of graphics.
    A few quick questions I would like answered will be written below but if you have any extra information whether it be a good website or a handy trick or tip then please feel free to contact me.
    Mac or PC - I have never really used a Mac as I find myself instantly getting lost and confused, I shortcut my way through 80% of windows but I know that Mac have a good name for themselves in graphics today.
    Software - What software should I be using, currently I use Ps (Photoshop) for everything which I know is a bad thing to do but its the software I have grown the most comfortable with. From research and my knowledge the software I was thinking of learning would be Photoshop for images + graphics + editing, Illustrator for creating vectors, InDesign for printing.
    Hardware - My worst area. I know what is needed to run programs and how Motherboard, Processor, RAM, HDD, Graphics Card etc all works, that about as far as it goes.
    Additional Information - Fonts, Pictures, Peripherals, Websites, Tutorials etc
    Hope this is in the right section and what not, not a big forum person but I hear its good to have a look around and meet other graphics people so I may stick around!
     
  2. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    Ok... first things first... knowing how to use hardware/software does not make you a designer, there is a LOT that you need to learn to be a good designer.
    Pretty much ALL of the designers on this site who do this for a living work as much if not more with pen and paper than a pc/mac. A pc/mac is nothing more than another tool that we use to create our ideas.
    This is ignoring the finer things about design that you can only really learn by being trained.
    Recommendations: Ignore the computer and look at what courses are available at your college to further your understanding of design.
    In regards to your questions:
    mac or pc - as said they're a tool, both do EXACTLY the same thing. Macs are more common in the workplace but I have a view that you could be slower using an unfamiliar interface so if you're happy with windows, stick with it.
    software - you can't define a program for xyz, they're constantly intermingling. Indesign takes imagery from ps/illustrator for example, This is something you will be taught on a proper course (gcse courses are pretty limited in their scope)
    Hardware - doesn't matter as long as it's above the required specs.
    Additional Info - look round the forum, join in more as most of it's covered in the relevant sections, a course would help too.
     
  3. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    Hi Ollie, welcome to the forums. I'm guessing you've had some bad experiences in the past, but there is no need for such opening statements here. It's a very friendly place and if you get on with everyone then people will be more than happy to answer your questions and give you advice!
    Mac or PC - As Levi says, they are tools. Use which ever you prefer, neither are, by default, better or worse than the other. Macs tend to be a little more expensive, but I hear that you get some great after-sale support with them too, whereas with computers you're relying on the manufacturer.
    Software - Depends on your budget or morals. Adobe is the industry standard, and at a minimum I would recommend learning Photoshop and Illustrator. If you want to work more in print design with things like leaflets, magazines etc take a look at InDesign. What specific work do you intend to be doing?
    Hardware is really not important for design. But if you're going to be working with computers for a long time then it would be wise to learn the basics. You can also get some great deals when you build your own PC, instead of the pre-built ones. The only other thing to mention with hardware is to make sure that you have some way to back up all of your work. Not doing so will cause you great distress one day in the future.
    Additional - Get a printer if you're going to be doing a lot of print work, pretty obvious really. Unless you're solely working on illustrations and what-not, I wouldn't bother with a graphics tablet until you're a bit more comfortable with your profession. Look around the forum for more info, make some more specific posts if you're keen.
    As for college, well, beware low level courses as they often don't actually teach you what you need to know. Make sure you do plenty of your own research along-side the course and continue talking with people in the industry and find out what knowledge you actually need in order to make it as a professional.
     
  4. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    Seeing as squiddy mentioned a printer - I'd grab an a3 or even a2 if you can afford one, you'll quickly find a4 a restriction when doing proofs. Having said that I haven't really used my printers for much more than invoices recently lol
    Both of us forgot about a screen calibration tool, I use a spyder 3 (spyder 4 out now) as 90% of screens aren't right, especially if you use windows.
    I still say a course will benefit you, if you want to see what there is and then post them up here we'll help get rid of the courses which won't be much use. I can say from personal experience that the btec art and design foundation is pretty well rounded in my experience but it was technically higher than a-level so you'd need a 'gcse to btec' course first.
     
  5. shaunalynn

    shaunalynn Active Member

    I second everyone else here. Designers love when students and young people are excited and interested about the field and are more than willing to offer advice and guidance. Very rarely will you come across someone that does otherwise.
    That said, you will need to do a lot of thinking in design. Having the best of the best isn't going to make you a good designer no more than having a skateboard with no lessons is going to make you a great skateboarder. It all takes practice and patience. I've been in the field professionally for a little over two years, but have been creating all my life, focusing on design for the last 6 years. I'm constantly learning new tips and techniques.
    Once you're out of school, it helps to take a continuing ed course every once and a while. A good platform currently is Skillshare (which you could participate in now if you wanted). You can take a specific class from a well known designer and get feedback and have conversations with them. You learn tricks of the trade you wouldn't normally learn in school.
    A lot of designers tend to gravitate to Macs. I always had a lot of problems with my PC computers and when the opportunity to get a mac came around, I never looked back. I highly prefer them, but I know several designers that work strictly on PC. It's a personal preference thing.
    Like Levi said, lots of designers start with pen and paper over going straight to the computer. Since I'm an illustrator, my process changes depending on the project, but 9 times out of 10 I've got at least a basic something sketched out on paper before I hop onto the computer.
    Find designers you admire, tweet or email to them, ask them advice. You never know who will respond. :)
     
  6. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    I'm glad you brought that point up Shauna, lots of people seem to think it's easier to just think about a design in your head for a little while and then go straight to computer. The fact is that you can sketch out ideas much more quickly than doing it on the computer first. You should be able to develop those sketches in your head and 'know' how they will come out in PS/Ily/InDesign without actually having to do it. This is a skill that comes after using the program after a while and knowing both the software's and your own limitations. I would definitely recommend starting out with pen/pencil and paper for any design, or web, work though, otherwise you'll run into the problem of not having tested enough concepts to come out with the best possible one for the brief. This can often lead to results that you are content with but not overly happy, and unsure of what to change to make it look better.
    A little philosophy for your learning process which will help you out too:
    The fastest way to learn is to copy the best. Literally copy. Go and look at the work of professionals and try to copy it, you will learn an absolute ton. When you understand the advanced techniques that professionals use and why they make their work the way they do, you'll have a massive advantage over the people who decided to just learn entirely on their own. Obviously I'm not condoning this principle for commercial work, you shouldn't be selling your services if you're not up to the task at hand!
     
  7. The Simulator

    The Simulator Active Member

    Whilst I agree with everything else people have said so far this is one that I don't. Working methods vary person to person and you should stick with whatever works for you. Personally I don't think it's right to try and force a change to something that is unnatural, at my time at uni the tutors tried to force me to change the way I worked and to pick up a pen and paper more often. All it did was slow me down, frustrate me and the results were no better as a result of it.
     
  8. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    Each to their own, but I'm just making sure that he doesn't overlook this process. I'm not saying he has to do it this way, but he needs to try working that way at least once.
     
  9. balders

    balders Member

    I watched a documentary a few years ago that looked at a very successful marketing agency in New York (can't remember the name of it though, sorry), it followed them around and they they worked up ideas and shadowed a few of the directors around. One of the directors taught graphic design at a New York university and you basically didn't get your hands on a computer until the 2nd year. The first year was proper back to basics, idea generation, different processes, sketching out ideas.....
    Its a bit like running in a way, every one can run to a degree but if you want to run for a long distances and efficiently you have to completely relearn how you do it, and its takes time and practice. Does that make sense?
    Everyone is different though, thats why its interesting.
     
  10. JamesRobinson

    JamesRobinson New Member

    As wim Crouwel said, (I'm not quoting here but...) as out technology improves he sees more and more designers sketching with the computer rather than the pencil. Personally i also think it depends what your competent with.
    And by the way welcome Ollie. I was in the same position as you are maybe 5 years ago or so after i had a change of heart from another subject.

    There isn't much wisdom i can pass on to you really, other than if your doing a national diploma, or a general college course be aware that what they teach you is very watered down. Here are just a few pointers for you, and these are the things that have helped me be what i would call a 'better' designer since i started.
    When it comes to starting new projects, research in-depth and actually take something from your research. Whenever i research for my BA course i also always find myself looking at the work of recent graduates as they are the ones that pioneer a fair amount of the fresh ideas in industry now. You might also be one of them one day.
    Learn your design theory. Don't be narrow minded and look only at graphic designers. Look at architects, furniture designers, fashion designers and art and design movements. These inspire a lot of the styles we have now. You'll see they're all linked together.
    Don't worry about the whole Mac or Pc thing. If someone thinks one is better than the other they are simply naive. both are computers. Personally i design on both. I have a Macbook pro that i take to uni, and a high spec gaming PC i use at home. I design on both, and as long as i have a mouse both are perfect. If it can run the software thats all you need to worry about :)
    One last thing. By all means learn Photoshop, Illustrator etc, but don't rely on them. A designer comes up with ideas, and you want to be a designer. An art-worker is a Photoshop / illustrator wizard. Art-workers are generally paid a lot less in comparison to designers in industry.
    Also, just generally have fun designing. Even though It comes with both the highs and lows, and can be fickle (one mans junk is another mans treasure as they say) Keep at it if it's something you want to do.
    Everyone on here is real friendly and are all generally helpful.
     
  11. balders

    balders Member

    There is a lot of cross over though, a good designer really should have a grasp of the print production process. A creative artworker bridges that gap even more.
     
  12. shaunalynn

    shaunalynn Active Member

    I agree with this, BUT make sure you do not publish any, and I mean ANY copied work. It is for learning purposes only and you don't want any legal things on your hands.
    For example, I copy a lot of work by other hand letterers to learn new techniques and new letter forms I've never thought of or tried. I do not, however, post them to my website, or to Dribbble or Instagram. They remain in my sketchbook for my eyes and reference only.
     
  13. The Simulator

    The Simulator Active Member

    The funny thing about this, and you are perfectly right in what you're saying here, is that one of the most famous and respected artists disagrees 100%.
    "Good artists copy. Great artists steal."
    Now whilst Picasso probably didn't mean go out and directly copy everything from direct rivals etc, there is no way on this Earth that everyone could create unique things all the time. We all have to learn, copy, steal if you will, techniques, theories, practices from other people, it's how things develop.
     
  14. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    It's fine of course unless of course the other person 'steals' and makes it better, then it's time for the lawyers :)
     
  15. shaunalynn

    shaunalynn Active Member

    Oh yes, you will always find your influences within your work. :) I'm just saying if you go and copy Shepherd Farey's OBEY giant and then put it on your site and claim that you made it yourself, you're going to open a HUGE can of worms. :)
    I look to other type designers for inspiration. That inspiration definitely finds its way into my work, but I also try to take what influences me and put my own twist on it so I don't get told that I'm copying another's work. :)

    Sorry for our side tangent, Ollie!
     
  16. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    That is actually the quote which was used in the article I once read on this very subject and led me to my current opinion that you need to copy the processes of professionals in order to learn how to do things properly. Once you've got that down, it's so much easier to adapt the techniques that you've learned and start creating your own style as you'll have been shown things you would would have thought never even possible! As stated in my first post and which has been echoed in later comments, there is never a good excuse for plagiarism.
    Oh and Levi, there is actually somewhat of a legal loophole in terms of taking someone else's work and "making it better" in that it is possible in certain situations to get away with it if you can prove you've done enough to make it your own. I don't know the full details on this specific subject, as I have no intention of going down that route, so take what I say with a pinch of salt. However I believe that the basic underlying principle is that if you change something enough you can claim it to be your own.
     
  17. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    I know, I was having a play on the other use of that quote :)
    Like you say it's a loophole/grey area when you do a piece 'inspired' by another one, still doesn't stop some people/companies calling in the lawyers....
     
  18. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    Ahh right okay, didn't realise. Yeah, I imagine some times it's difficult to know if someone is trying to rip you off or genuinely just used it as inspiration and some people are just out to bully people with their lawyers.
     

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