I went to school for graphic design

Sharing this post[1] with you from nikography — plus my own story afterwards. Because graphic design is hard work.

i went to school for graphic design, and did not spend my nights getting drunk. instead, i worked my ass off, spent most of my outside-class time learning/trying/doing as much as possible, and then got an awesome job after graduating.

protip: if you’re lucky enough . . . to be in college, you should be spending all available time learning, trying, making things, messing things up, experimenting and READING. . . .

i didn’t waste a single day. and neither should you. build your momentum and go with it.

for the but-i’m-an-artist’s: you want money? learn a technical skill related to your field and get good at it. then get better at it. . . . just sayin’.

final note: i had a BLAST in college, and miss it like crazy. working hard does not mean no-fun-allowed, it means relax harder 🙂 [2][3]
nikography


I had the unique opportunity to enter a graphic design career during the transitional years of the digital revolution in design (somewhere between the Upper Peasealithic and Macolithic periods). The university offered computer graphics classes during the final year of the academic program called commercial arts. The degree was catalogued as a bachelors in science (as opposed to a bachelors in arts).

All other graphic design classes were hands-on, analog, technical application of composition, typography, illustration, photography, color theory, and so on. And for that fact, I am grateful.

One afternoon, during critique of students’ work a professor called two of my classmates out of the room. Most of the students knew why. One of the two owned a personal computer (yes, this is back in the paleolithic days before wifi, laptops, and mobile phones). They did their copy layout (design jargon for arranging blocks of advertising text — usually Lorem Ipsum — on a page) using a personal computer and printer. Then they inked over the print outs and submitted their work. Or so the rumors went.

No one else in the class owned a personal computer and had to lay out the text for a three-panel brochure by hand using rulers, graphite and non-photo blue pencils and rubylith film for color overlays.

The professor had caught them cheating. They denied using a computer to do the text layout. Hushed conversation relayed that they were nearly suspended for the act.

The recollection of that afternoon seems so arcane and archaic. The level of craftsmanship and skill required to accomplish print layout work was demanding. Each design student spent hours a day in the studio working on each project.

It used to take weeks of hand-lettering and composing mock-up pages before submitting the design samples for ad director and client reviews. Now it takes me a morning to generate three design layout drafts of a two- to four-page project.

The digital revolution allowed for faster turnaround of design projects, but graphic design is still hard work. It is something I try to impart to interns and young designers.

If graphic design is not good, hard, rewarding work, than you’re doing it wrong.


NOTES:


[1] The original post was shared from Tumblr, January 20, 2010. https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2010/01/20/nikography-i-went-to-school-for-graphic-design/

[2] orginal image via synecdoche
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The wreck of his life

Earlier this week, someone in a writers group I attend asked me where do I get the ideas I write about. My answer was a paraphrase of something Hemingway wrote to Fitzgerald. Here’s the exact quote from his letter in 1929:

“The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life–and one is as good as the other.”
–Ernest Hemingway

He also wrote something to the idea that he learned to write by examining the simplest of things.

Advice for writers

In the September issue of Writer’s Digest, Sherman Alexie says:

Every word on your blog is a word not in your book.

As someone who has been blogging for a few years, that’s conflicting advice. I was encouraged by a friend to start a blog as a way to work on my writing skills. So, I started blogging as a way to discipline myself to write every day. Six years later I have several working or completed manuscripts and no books. Mr. Alexie may have a point. He also offers this:

Don’t Google search yourself.

Two online helps for writers

If you’re a writer who has lost a manuscript due to your computer crashing, here are two online options to protect your work.

For a few years, I’ve been using Google docs to organize manuscript drafts and as an online storage, back-up option. The nice thing about Google Docs is that is works almost seamlessly with Word Docs. Google Docs offers the following online apps: text, spreadsheet, form and presentation. Truth be told, I haven’t used a Microsoft product since I began using Google docs.

Recently I began using Dropbox to store audio files, images and other documents and really enjoy it.

Link: Book Writing Advice for Nerds

Writing tips from published authors

Kurt Vonnegut’s eight rules for writing fiction Link.

Stephen King’s seven tips for becoming a better writer Link.