A must-read interview on the AIGA Eye on Design blog covering inclusive ways to approach teaching design, taking away the hierarchy in the classroom, and fostering community.
I love this quote by Nicole Killian: “We need to remove that power and figure out how we can create a space where people actually feel comfortable and excited to be a designer, rather than being siloed at their laptops and trying to “win” against their peers. So many designers work by themselves, but it’s an important time, especially socially and politically, to talk about why it’s important to be in a space together. How can we consider community, and not just audience, in our work?”
This incredibly insightful research project by AIGA landed in my inbox a couple of days ago. AIGA says the intent is “to help designers and educators anticipate and prepare for the future, to lead change in their offices and schools, and to make each phase of their careers a learning opportunity rather than a fixed reality.” Having graduated recently, I found these trend reports fascinating. Take a look!
Since I am newly graduated and feeling extra reminiscent of my time at school, I thought it would be fun to share the story of how I got into my field. Below is a condensed timeline of how I found my fit in web and user experience design:
As a kid, I loved playing with software and computers, and as the son of a professional photographer, I have early memories of art and technology. I didn’t consider myself very creative growing up, but I truly admired art and design, and frequent visits to my dad’s studio made me enthusiastic about the creative industry. In high school, it was clear to me that I wanted to pursue a career that would mix my creative and technical abilities, so going to college for graphic design was a no-brainer (although my family was a bit skeptical at first).
Adventures in art school
I enrolled at The University of Akron and began taking art classes in my first semester. In their design program, the first year is dedicated to a foundations curriculum, so my courses included things like drawing, 2D, and 3D design. These courses helped push me in significant ways and made it much easier to transition to my actual design classes, where idea generation, concept development, and process were vital. I liked how well-rounded the curriculum was, and I enjoyed learning from my instructors, but it wasn’t until my first web design class that I really dove into my passions.
Learning to code felt like magic to me. Going into my first web design class, I was very excited and a little bit nervous, since I knew this could be something I would really enjoy, but also challenging at the same time. But it turns out when you’re driven to something, and nothing can pull you away from it, actually learning the material and practicing it is no hard work at all. I threw myself into web and loved the class for making me think more critically about design, the satisfaction I gained from creative problem-solving, and the foundation skills I learned from coding basic HTML and CSS.
Web II and onwards
Once I found out how much I loved web design and coding, everything else I was doing seemed to benefit from it. I began studying graphic design in closer detail, researching other artists and designers, and working more diligently and thoughtfully on classwork. My work improved considerably during this time, and I started genuinely enjoying my education. Later classes like Web II and Interactivity taught me core principles of user interface and user experience design, things that excite me just as much as, if not more than, web.
The real world (learning doesn’t stop after school)
During my time in college, I was fortunate enough to land an internship doing graphic design work for clients. I also managed the website for my art school which gave me more experience dabbling in code and taught me valuable lessons in communication and working independently/remotely. Now that I’ve graduated and am working a new full-time job, I feel like the learning has just begun. While I can confidently apply the skills I learned during school in my new position, there is infinitely more to understand, many years of growing to do, and so much more to accomplish. While coding websites may not be your fit, it indeed is mine, and I hope this blog post can inspire you to find what excites you in the design field.