I became a designer by accident. Like a few people in our field I started out in art school, back in a time when design was called “commercial art”. (Do they still do this?) And I had every intention of graduating into a lucrative, exciting, groupie-filled career as an artist.
I was even dumb enough to go to graduate school to become an artist. And I probably wouldn’t be a designer if not for a series of accidents that led me to auditing a design class just so I could get access to the computer lab. I enjoyed it enough to actually enroll in a few more classes the next semester. By the time I graduated, most of my time was spent in the design department, much to my art professors’ confusion.
So my own design education is spotty. I know precious little about theory, and I still have to look up the names of different letterforms and such. My awareness of my own incomplete education keeps me open to the fact that other people might very well know more than I do, and allows me to keep an open mind. And I am good at being blunt and talking people into things.
When I started my career as a designer I was terrified that people would find out how much I didn’t know. Then I realized everyone else was terrified of the same thing. So I muddled and plowed my way through years and years of mistakes, all the while tucking the lessons away for later so I wouldn’t forget.
Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to publish those lessons in a book. Design Is a Job. (Oh, you haven’t read it yet?)
And then something very humbling happened. I started getting e-mail from design students asking me for help on things like dealing with clients, presenting design, workplace situations, etc. And I answered them when I could. And I realized that many of the questions were similar, so I decided I could probably help more designers if I answered the questions publicly.
So welcome to Dear Design Student. I’ll try to answer a question a week. I may not always have the answer right away, but when you ask me something I don’t know, that means I can learn something new too. And we’ll learn it together. Oh, and you don’t have to be a design student, you just need to want to learn something.
Send your questions to email@example.com.
Oh yeah, if I answer your question I’ll send you an autographed copy of the book. Which you can sell on eBay or something.
Stay in school.
A weekly series where I answer students’ questions about being a designer. Send me your questions.