You talk about the disconnect between design school and the transition to
design professional — can you explain this disconnection? What does this
mean for new design graduates?
There are so many disconnects between being a student and professional designer. The main one being that once you enter the field, chances are that you’ll have to wear many different hats. You could be an animator, producer, storyboard artist, director and sound designer all in one project. This kind of multi-tasking is not taught at most schools. Also, most schools prepare students on how to make a nice portfolio and get a job. That’s fantastic but there is an entrepreneurial side to graphic design as well. In our classes we challenge students to act as authors and curators as well as designers. Instead of designing content we encourage them to produce it. That way when they graduate they can get a job at a design firm but also start a music
label, skate company or write a book on the transitioning to professional practice.
What can design schools do about this disconnect?
The most valuable class we had at CCA was thesis, taught by Michael Vanderbyl. In his class we had to create a project that had a life outside of the classroom. Produce and manage all the content as well as design it. The critiques were very grueling and students failed quite often. Thesis gave us such a solid
understanding of production and presentation that once we graduated we were ready to pitch our ideas to anyone. Being able to author, design and pitch ideas is the most valuable tool we can give students.