So, one day I was strolling through the city campus of my university in my second year when it dawned on me that I was about to start my final year of university. That it was the last blissfully long summer holiday I might ever have. That it would be the last time I have permission to do nothing for like, three months in a row.
Thinking about it, I realised that my time at uni was nothing like I expected it to be, or at least, there was loads of stuff I learned. I thought that this post might be a little more specific than a lot of the more general uni-related posts out there, so here's my experiences as an Art Student (specifically Graphic Design) in the first two years.
1. You Will Work The Hardest Out Of Everyone
I was always the one skipping nights out, for fear of my sketchbook not being up to standard. You end up feeling guilty any time you aren't working on your project. You do have to learn to let go a little, but it is obvious the students who put in the work over the ones that don't, so it’s a sacrifice I made.
2. Go into the studio
Like I said, it is obvious the people who put the time in. If you do proper 'shifts' in the studio you get the benefit of a productive, creative environment. You get the opinions of others and your tutors. Your work is better and usually follows the brief a lot better if you check in with others regularly, rather than hunched over your desk in your bedroom.
3. A degree in Graphic Design helped me more than a degree in Illustration would have
I notice all the time - in creating my shop, designing my portfolio, creating content for my blog - how useful it has been to understand the “wider context”. I studied lots of things under the banner of 'graphic design' which helped me understand how my illustration works in the world. For instance, we studied Editorial layouts which meant I would understand how image and illustrations work alongside the text, etc. It also helped me to 'mock up' my designs to show how they would look, out in the real world.
Studying branding has helped me endlessly in understanding how you project an image of yourself and create a feeling and emotion attached to your brand, and an understanding of type and colour has helped me enormously so far!
4. I didn't really know what Graphic Design was:
As great as my secondary school was (I did an A Level in Graphic Design) I didn't really have a clue what graphic design was. At the time I wanted to create digital art (because, ironically, I thought I couldn't draw or paint) and I felt like Graphic Design was something that gave art 'purpose', but assumed it was mostly making posters and logos or something. I’d never even heard of “branding”.
I was very smug that I got ontomy graphic design course without needing to do a Foundation course, but In hindsight, it probably wouldn’t have hurt to get a better idea of what I wanted to do, and experimented with mediums (such as screen print, lino cuts, etc) that we didn't have the budget for at school.
5. I discovered what I loved
I know that sounds cliche, but there was so much creativity out there that I had somehow missed before. I had no idea about what branding was, or even really what illustration was. It wasn't until I discovered there was more to illustration than commissions on Deviant Art or picture book covers that I realised that it was something I could do and wanted to do.
6. I found a whole new drive
At school I was a high-achiever, but chronically forgetful. However, once at uni I found so much inspiration and motivation in being able to create all day. As practice for a real life job - creating all day! It opened my eyes to the fact that people actually did this, and I could too. I am so lucky to live where I do and have access to such amazing courses.
I’ll never regret taking Graphic Design at university. It helped shape so much of who I am, what I love and what I want to be, and I would recommend it if you are considering going for an art course. (also, if you want a painfully frank version of this post, go check out Ellie's 'Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Left For Uni.)