For my graphic design module here in London, I have been reading many design books for the independent research requirements of the course. It has been very insightful to set a goal of researching one book a week and then reflecting on it in my sketchbook. I have been taking out graphic design books that I can read on the tube to make travel seem a little faster. Plus, it makes me feel like a real Londoner when I have something to read. Right now, I am reading a book called “The Education of a Graphic Designer” edited by Steven Heller. It doesn’t sound like the most enticing read, but it has actually been really interesting.
I picked this book off the shelf of the library because now, being a junior, I am more than half-way through my undergraduate degree. After next week, I will only have 3 semesters left. I keep thinking about all of the things that I want to learn and how little time I seem to have left. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my education because the college here is set up much differently than Marywood. Here, they don’t have general education classes to fulfill, they only take classes in their major, and there are no minors. The school has a polytechnic past; all of these things are much different than my liberal arts education back home.
When talking to the students here, I found that I have really advocated for my liberal arts education. So I was really interested when Heller wrote about the connection of liberal arts and graphic design education in his book. He writes about many aspects of this relationship, but the idea of a graphic designer being both a maker and a thinker really interested me. There is no way that design students can learn every single thing about graphic design in 4 years (a realization that I have recently accepted). It is important to produce work, but it is also important to be able to think in different ways. Being able to understand and learn in different ways are skills that go beyond the technical ability of a designer. Wanting to learn, and having knowledge in different areas, is going to be something that builds the foundation for students when we are thrown into the professional world. And with such a wide range of design jobs, we need to learn how to adapt and understand each job in new ways.
Finding the balance between creating work, writing, thinking, planning, and so much more is the goal that all of us graphic design students are trying fit into these 4 years. The good news is is that when the 4 years are over, we will still be learning, especially when we have the foundation knowing that learning and obtaining knowledge is what will make us better designers.