Advice from a Perpetual Student of Design- Part 2

With the ever changing world we live in, it’s hard to keep up with what’s the newest–but it is part of your job after graduating to keep teaching yourself. As designers we must constantly keep up with the trends of today’s society. This is the second part to my blog entry, that gives advice to those who are fresh out of school.

TECH

The computer and software you use to design is just an extension to the skill you have as problem thinker. Knowing how to use Adobe CC doesn’t automatically make you a skilled designer. You are a perpetual student in the realm of technology, because it’s always changing. A great example is the iPhone X compared to the iPhone 6.

Adweek GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY


The phone is the same kind of concept, but Apple always adds new features to its latest phone. In this case, the facial recognition software analyzes facial features and muscles and tries to mirror your expressions is also being used as a password, instead of the fingerprint to access account information—this phenomenon is becoming more of a normality in the technological world. But when the iPhone 6 came out in 2014, it was hard to even picture what was next. You are constantly learning to use new tools available to you. But the core of design isn’t based on these tools, so it’s a good idea to start out with old school paper and pencil—as rough as these sketches may be, it makes you think about problem solving design differently without having the crutch of technology to rely upon.

Love GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

Check out the new iPhoneX

FEEDBACK

In the design world, feedback isn’t optional. Always welcome criticism. You are putting work out there for everyone to take in, some people will love it, and others won’t. It’s important to encourage criticism in order to better your work for future designs. When you receive creative direction from your mentors or supervisors, you have to evaluate, listen and improve. Accept the criticism, but also think for yourself. Be different. Ask why. Have a point of view, but don’t be obnoxious. Remember you are a perpetual student, and there is always something new to learn from the process or from people. If you’re asked to critique, make you sure you do it with honesty and finesse. If you receive criticism, receive it with gratitude and openness.

 

And always remember to be humble

Nobodies. GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

COMMUNITY

After graduation, it’s gonna feel like someone dropped you out in the middle of the ocean and said “swim”. You don’t know what the next steps are, or who to turn to. You’re used to having the educational support of classmates and professors, but now you’re on your own. So what do you do? Showcase your designs on a super nice online portfolio, apply to about twenty thousand jobs, and lastly—reach out to your community. Every city has a design community. If you reach out to a design professional for a meet up at a café to talk about life, design, or even puppies, chances are they’ll agree to meet you. This is not an opportunity to ask for a job, it’s just a way to reach out to someone who is active in the field and see what their experiences and perspective of design in your city. Every person you meet, regardless of them being creative or non-creative, has something to teach you. Networking is essential to continuing your career because design is a human-centered field.

 

TEAM

Another piece of advice is to find an experienced team that you can learn from. Which leads me to Company Man Studios. The office has an open concept with public work spaces and casual meeting spots for everyone to gather and talk. There are vibrant colors everywhere and artwork hung on the walls made by our very own executive creative director. My very first interaction was a phone call with the Art Director, Terry Campbell. I’ve been here for almost 3 months and I love it. So far the culture of the studio has been extremely welcoming—everyone that works here has a special task, but when teamwork is needed no one hesitates to step up and help. Every person that works here loves what he or she does. Since the first day I started, we all eat lunch together; we all ask how the other is doing. It’s so personable and I feel like they treat each other like a work family as opposed to just having a co-worker relationship.  

Fam GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

The main point is to always keep learning. You must provide yourself a continuing education on a daily basis. If you don’t know something, google it. There are thousands of  youtube videos and articles explaining the DIY of many things, from coding sites to animating a GIF. You are still constantly learning about yourself and how to overcome the challenges you face.

 

Here are some sites for my fellow perpetual design students:
LEARN

www.w3schools.com

www.lynda.com

www.udemy.com

https://tutsplus.com/

https://www.skillshare.com/browse

 

 

And remember, always fake it til you make it.

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Perpetual Student of Design,

Nina

 

Advice from a Perpetual Student of Design- Part 1

FINE ARTS & DESIGN

I attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and graduated this past December with a BFA concentration in Graphic Design and a Minor in Art History. While in school I learned a lot about design, but after school is when I’ve learned the most. A lot of people undermine design education. But being a designer automatically makes you a perpetual student. I believe that the education I received is totally worth “the fat check” that was written for it. But what they teach you in design school is mainly how to teach yourself.

Learn new trends. Learn from history. Learn from peers, professors and colleagues. There will always be learning.

Thanks to the Bauhaus school, design students are exposed with a way to merge arts & crafts and technology together. The school favored simplified forms, rationality, functionality and the idea that mass production could live in harmony with the artistic spirit of individuality. Students learn the basic elements and principles of design while on the track to receiving a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts. Being exposed to a variety of art professions from photography to painting to printmaking and digital design, classes like these open up a completely different perspective on how to look at the world. You can always look at things, but design helps you see things better. Try thinking about a picture in terms of contour, colors, lines, and shapes; this is how a fine artist thinks.

Although education is always a good start, school doesn’t teach you everything. You have to have the motivation to teach yourself everything that they don’t cover.

Bauhaus: Design in a Nutshell

 

LEARNING TO THINK LIKE A DESIGNER PART 1


AUDIENCE

First things first, as a designer, you are a communicator of ideas. We help our client translate their message to their particular audience. There will be very little instances where you are the audience you’re designing for. The audience is one of the main things that constantly changes depending on the client, so you have to learn to speak different languages. You always have to practice empathy. Empathy is the ability to see the world as other people do, to see what they see, feel what they feel, and experience things as they do. If the message is complicated, then as the designer, your job is to be able to simplify complicated concepts.

The Importance of Empathy
Try to understand how other people experience the world.

 

DESIGNING

Design is the intentional solution to a problem with a set of constraints. In order to design, the first thing you have to do is research. Without research you can’t understand the problem you are trying to solve, and therefore, you can’t design. Ideating comes next. Divergent thinking is when there is never one correct solution. After you’ve established what your problem is you come up with a variety of solutions so you brain storm, make mind maps and brain dumps. These techniques allow you to come up with the craziest ideas that can then be narrowed down into a feasible idea that fits what your client is looking for. The first draft of any design is never going to be the one you go with, kinda like how you make that first pancake and it’s always the worst one. The more pancakes you make, the better they come out.

Pancakes GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

If you are working as part of a team, the Art Director or Creative Director will oversee your designs, in which case you must follow their suggestions for the direction of the design as it’s the client’s best interest that’s important—not your creative genius. As a designer, customer service is key. Learn how to ask questions, not just to the client, but also to your supervisors and mentors. You can always get better, as long as you keep learning.

You have to step back from your designs and reevaluate your work in order to see a better solution to the problem. This also helps with allowing you to breathe and not get frustrated with what you’re working on—because it will happen at some point in time. Another thing to keep in mind is that design doesn’t sell itself, you are a communicator of visual impact, but you also have to learn to talk about your work. Work it.

Hayley Kiyoko GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

 

Here are some sites for my fellow perpetual design students:

INSPIRATION

www.logodesignlove.com/

coolors.co/browser/latest/1

www.typewolf.com/

www.designspiration.net/

www.behance.com

www.webcreme.com/

Perpetual Student of Design,
Nina

 

Social Media Marketing: “I’m too old for this…”

Why bother boomers with social media marketing?

Recently, I was in a meeting where a prospective client said that social media marketing wasn’t relevant to their business. Their reasoning was valid. This particular client’s target audience was baby boomers—the generation who spent two-thirds of their lives without the internet. This generation is perceived to be barely affected by social media. After all, they’re not really on it all the time like “kids these days,” right? So what’s the point of social media marketing for a business who is never going to see these ads?

Lily Tomlin with iPhone

“Social media marketing doesn’t apply to my audience.”

To start with, this perception is completely misguided. Saying that baby boomers aren’t on social media just isn’t true. In fact, a Colorado University study shows baby boomers spend 27 hours online per week. This statistic is two hours more than users 16 – 34. (Maybe retirees are filling their job-less hours with internet surfing?)

It might come to no surprise to anyone with a mom that the prime social platform for baby boomers is Facebook. And, with the purchase of Instagram by Facebook a few years ago, we will likely see the generation move on to other platforms in time. The truth is, it’s really hard to tell where social media will be in five years. But it’s unlikely that the baby boomers will be completely off it.

Building your brand for the future

However, boomers aren’t the real topic here. It’s individual brands. Even if you feel your company doesn’t need to be targeting one generation, you shouldn’t completely disregard the next. While boomers and Gen-Xers hold most of the cash now, it won’t stay that way for long. Those annoying Millennials are eventually going to step up to the plate. We’re more widely educated and Internet-savvy. What’s more—millennials like social media.

Building your brand an online presence—including social media—is so important. Internet users are more likely to have trust in a brand that they can connect with on social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are avenues to make your brand more relatable. If a user sees that you respond to reviews on your Facebook, they’re more likely to buy. A social profile is like putting a face to a name (get it?).

Through social media marketing, you’re paving the way for future success. When Millennials and the generation after (Gen Z??) do come into full fruition, having a good online presence will prepare you to receive them. If millennials feel foreign to you, consider social media as knowing how to speak their language. In a lot of ways, you are. Don’t take the risk of not having the groundwork laid down now. If you start building and gaining Facebook “likes” now, you’ll avoid seeming awkward in 5 years with only 52 followers.

If you’re still not convinced about social media marketing, consider the following. Even if you’re not directly driving sales through social media marketing, it’s still a useful tool for SEO. Users that interact with your social media are more likely to have visited your website, or visit your site in the near future. Anytime you can drive traffic to your site will help with your search rankings. So, if you are trying to appeal to Baby Boomers, remember that they love to Google things. And, they’re probably going to click on the first thing they see. And, that could be you.

Contact us at Company Man Studios.