New member without a degree :)


Bruna

New Member
Hi guys!
New member here, without a degree in graphic design :( Hopefully, you'll accept me despite that.
Here is some short info about me so you could make a picture of who I am.
-I've been doing creative stuff for as long as I can remember, got my master's degree in fashion illustration and worked as a freelance illustrator and designer, held creative workshops for children and similar stuff. For over two years now I have been working in a fast-growing textile-oriented company. They hired me as an apparel designer but, since I showed some skills in graphic design (and they were lacking one) I decided to educate in that direction. Now I regret I didn't study graphic design because even with tutorials and books I read I see that I lack some educational knowledge-one that you can't learn by your own, without good mentorship.
The problem in my job is that I do it all - promo materials like calendars, brochures, vouchers, patches, stickers, packaging design, label design, banners, social media stuff, illustrations, specification sheets, business cards, printed and web materials for the fairs we exhibit on... I also organize professional photo shooting on the scene and have my own studio for product photos and some ambient stuff. I do that also by myself. Basically, anything my company launches on the outside is my work. I love that because I rarely have monotony. At the same time that is a big problem because I believe everything could be better and more professional if I was more educated. And that is very important for me. I take responsibility for my work and want to be proud of it.
Do you have some suggestions for cases like this? Some high-quality books with good guidance. What was your most useful literature in college? Starting over in college in my 30s doesn't quite fit in my life schedule..
 

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
Seriously though, (cough) I don't think you need a degree to be a Graphic Designer especially in this day and age.

Sounds like you've got a very good grounding in what you've already done and you have a master's degree in fashion illustration.
What more do you want? ;)

In all honesty, my Son wants to go into Design of some sort and I've not encouraged him to go to Uni.
He's only 16 but he's managed to secure an apprenticeship at a company that does multimedia and sound design and I think real experience is golden.
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
He's only 16 but he's managed to secure an apprenticeship at a company that does multimedia and sound design and I think real experience is golden.
Defo - real world is way better.

College I went to during my apprenticeship was out of touch with modern techniques.
 

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
Defo - real world is way better.

College I went to during my apprenticeship was out of touch with modern techniques.
S'right!

I asked my Son if he fancied going to the local college which is much closer to study design and he told me what you said almost word for word.
Uncanny really.

I enjoyed college and I did learn a fair bit bet we were also taught letterpress printing/type setting and were told that computers for design wouldn't catch on.

I've learned WAY more on the job and by teaching myself or just doing.
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
Not that it was bad practice, but we were designing posters on paper, actually drawing the fonts. I suppose it's a lost art now. Literally drew the poster by hand, line spacing, agates, logos, etc. Then, and only then was it recreated on the computer.

But the way the print files were structured in layout were so rigid, you couldn't move anything without the entire composition being destroyed.

We were using Quark then, and it was grand, InDesign hadn't taken off.

We were also imposing by hand, literally, and photographing the impo, and creating film. But our printing company had a direct to plate.

I had been shooting film and transporting to plate years before that in my first job. But the new job had imagesetters, then platesetters.


I mean by the 4th year, I was going back to college for 3 months, and the things they were showing us was so out of date and completely irrelavant.

Not that I don't appreciate where it all started. But it just was not relevant.


A lot of photoshop terms come from old school camera work - and I don't mean Nikon camera, I mean camera for negatives to process film.

A lost art.
 

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
Not that it was bad practice, but we were designing posters on paper, actually drawing the fonts. I suppose it's a lost art now. Literally drew the poster by hand, line spacing, agates, logos, etc. Then, and only then was it recreated on the computer.

But the way the print files were structured in layout were so rigid, you couldn't move anything without the entire composition being destroyed.

We were using Quark then, and it was grand, InDesign hadn't taken off.

We were also imposing by hand, literally, and photographing the impo, and creating film. But our printing company had a direct to plate.

I had been shooting film and transporting to plate years before that in my first job. But the new job had imagesetters, then platesetters.


I mean by the 4th year, I was going back to college for 3 months, and the things they were showing us was so out of date and completely irrelavant.

Not that I don't appreciate where it all started. But it just was not relevant.


A lot of photoshop terms come from old school camera work - and I don't mean Nikon camera, I mean camera for negatives to process film.

A lost art.
Exactly the same here Hank!

Showing our age mate. ;)
 
Both times I went to school for Graphic Design they started us out on paper, creating compositions completely by hand and not even touching the computer. This was in 2013, and I was still in High School, and then the second time I went was actually this year. So I don't think its a lost art!
 

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
Both times I went to school for Graphic Design they started us out on paper, creating compositions completely by hand and not even touching the computer. This was in 2013, and I was still in High School, and then the second time I went was actually this year. So I don't think its a lost art!
That's actually reassuring to hear as a lot of designers go right to the computer.
Sometimes I think traditional drawing skills are very under rated.
 
No yeah, my coworkers look at me like I'm crazy when I sketch. I don't sketch EVERYTHING I do but I still believe in the process. I think sketching gets your ideas out much better.
 

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
I always found doing a degree was more about meeting people and trying new things than actually learning how to be a designer. All of my best friends I met at uni, and we regularly pass work around. We were taught basic design and creativity principles in the first year, but the second and third was more about getting out into the industry to make contacts, get experience and learn to find a niche you enjoy.

Plenty of people from my course graduated but struggled to find work afterwards, more likely because they simply didn't have a passion for what they were doing. They did a degree for the sake of doing it, and that's worthless. I know plenty of people who do just fine in the industry with no formal qualifications.
 

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
I always found doing a degree was more about meeting people and trying new things than actually learning how to be a designer. All of my best friends I met at uni, and we regularly pass work around. We were taught basic design and creativity principles in the first year, but the second and third was more about getting out into the industry to make contacts, get experience and learn to find a niche you enjoy.

Plenty of people from my course graduated but struggled to find work afterwards, more likely because they simply didn't have a passion for what they were doing. They did a degree for the sake of doing it, and that's worthless. I know plenty of people who do just fine in the industry with no formal qualifications.
I enjoyed college immensely, especially the social side of things and I've still got loads of great mates from then.

I don't think too many of the other students on my course actually went into design either.
I think a lot struggled to get a job and gave up and like you said, others were just doing it for the sake and went into something else.

From what I hear though, many courses don't prepare students for the real world.
I hear of a lot of people that have say studied Illustration and have no clue about being a freelancer and all the things like self promotion, setting up as a sole trader and stuff.
Almost all Illustrators are self employed and most don't have the knowledge to make a living at it.
 

Jri

Member
I did my degree in Graphic Design and, honestly, I was nowhere near grown-up enough to benefit from it. I feel I wasted a lot of time and got an average grade. My money would have been way better spent travelling (which in my humble opinion is a much better use of a 19 year old's time). Incidentally, lots of the people who did gap years who I met at uni were privileged self important yuppies - but at least the experience seemed to strip a little of that crippling naivety that so many students have out of them.

My degree involved hardly any live briefs (what little there was, was what I went out and got myself, not from the course) and zero industry preparation (looking for work, freelancing, self assessment for tax, approaching studios, keeping up to date, networking....). I initially enrolled as an illustrator, but got shoved onto the graphic design side of the course one year in (my fault for not putting my foot down). I floundered because I was a year behind the rest of the designers who had been there for a year already and I had to work to catch up both technically and socially, as working practices, cliques and a general feel for how the lecturer did things were already established at the point I came along.

I graduated in 2008 and naturally reverted back to my passion in illustration. Since leaving 11 years ago, frankly it's been a hellride. I took six years trying to find formal work in graphic design, and when I did my passion for illustration meant that I was unfulfilled by a 8-5 job as a graphic designer - I've learned to like it now, through necessity if nothing else, sort of like Stockholm syndrome. That one course alteration (no pun intended) sent me in a direction that I'm still battling to find my way back from over a decade later.

As far as my skill set goes, my degree taught me what software designers use. How to use them came in the years after graduating, where I frantically tried to stay afloat by learning from YouTube (then still in it's infancy as far as tutorial videos go) and a bunch of trade magazines.

In summary, degrees are great if you need to do one. If you don't, or you're not ready - they can cost you dearly. Unfortunately, only you can decide on that - but from the sounds of it - your MA more than qualifies you to determine that.

My passion for illustration outweighs my qualification in graphic design by an extraordinary factor. Consequently I am significantly better at illustration.
 

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
I did my degree in Graphic Design and, honestly, I was nowhere near grown-up enough to benefit from it. I feel I wasted a lot of time and got an average grade. My money would have been way better spent travelling (which in my humble opinion is a much better use of a 19 year old's time). Incidentally, lots of the people who did gap years who I met at uni were privileged self important yuppies - but at least the experience seemed to strip a little of that crippling naivety that so many students have out of them.

My degree involved hardly any live briefs (what little there was, was what I went out and got myself, not from the course) and zero industry preparation (looking for work, freelancing, self assessment for tax, approaching studios, keeping up to date, networking....). I initially enrolled as an illustrator, but got shoved onto the graphic design side of the course one year in (my fault for not putting my foot down). I floundered because I was a year behind the rest of the designers who had been there for a year already and I had to work to catch up both technically and socially, as working practices, cliques and a general feel for how the lecturer did things were already established at the point I came along.

I graduated in 2008 and naturally reverted back to my passion in illustration. Since leaving 11 years ago, frankly it's been a hellride. I took six years trying to find formal work in graphic design, and when I did my passion for illustration meant that I was unfulfilled by a 8-5 job as a graphic designer - I've learned to like it now, through necessity if nothing else, sort of like Stockholm syndrome. That one course alteration (no pun intended) sent me in a direction that I'm still battling to find my way back from over a decade later.

As far as my skill set goes, my degree taught me what software designers use. How to use them came in the years after graduating, where I frantically tried to stay afloat by learning from YouTube (then still in it's infancy as far as tutorial videos go) and a bunch of trade magazines.

In summary, degrees are great if you need to do one. If you don't, or you're not ready - they can cost you dearly. Unfortunately, only you can decide on that - but from the sounds of it - your MA more than qualifies you to determine that.

My passion for illustration outweighs my qualification in graphic design by an extraordinary factor. Consequently I am significantly better at illustration.
To be perfectly honest, I'f I'd have had to pay to do my college course I'd have been kicking up a real stink.

A lot of the traditional methods we were taught I am truly thankful for but learning letterpress.....Really?
We spent at least half a day per week learning how to set metal type the traditional way and use the big, old Heidelberg presses.
This was only because our college was in the old council building that housed the printing department and they'd left all the stuff behind.
This was old tech half a decade before my course.

Also, one of the tutors was an alcoholic and would mostly he half cut in our lessons and he would often fall asleep, sometimes when he was addressing the class.
He used to disappear to the materials cabinet for a cheeky swig.
We took it to the Course Head and told him that it was affecting our coursework and we were told he was just on strong medication for a skin condition.
Yeah, right! The kind that's 40% alcohol and has Vodka written on it?

I hear of a lot of student coming out of college or Uni that are totally unprepared for the real world.
 
I think WHERE you go to Uni matters a lot more than whether or not you went. There's 4 main State Colleges that have Design programs where I'm at. OU, OSU, USAO, and UCO. I went to UCO for a week, had to drop out because of adult life stuff but I wish I could have stayed, I loved the program they had. They had 2 classes that were required that were each their own design studio within the campus. A whole year of portfolio development and also 2 internships were required. It's an intense, competitive program. It had a high drop out rate, but the students who graduate there tend to have success. They also focused heavily on Illustration as well as Design. They didn't focus as much on the programs as they did the principles. That's why I picked it, I already knew the programs well.

The other two colleges? Not as much. I've seen the student body of work at those colleges and I just was not impressed. Which is why I picked UCO.

I think you need to ask yourself WHY you're going to college. Are you going because you're supposed to? Are you going for the piece of paper? Or are you going there to learn the principles and skills needed in the industry you plan on going in to?

It's all a moot point anyways because I have votech certification and an unrelated Associate's Degree, and I just landed a great job with a company's magazine. The job posting listed a Bachelor's as a requirement, and they even offered me more than what was posted on the listing so I guess I'm doing just fine without the degree.
 
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