What I've learnt in my degree so far!
This year, I’m about to start my final year of the Bachelor of Visual Communication Design at Massey University Wellington with honours. I’ve done three years of this degree already, and I’ve loved every minute of it! With my final year coming up, I thought I would reflect on what I’ve already learnt in this degree and hopefully share some insight into what a BDes can provide!
Process isn’t just for bookwork
I learnt pretty quickly that each paper in this degree requires and expects a lot of bookwork. With each new assignment comes an empty A4 notebook which stares at you from its blank pages, waiting for you to fill it with a million wonderful ideas and you’re also going to be marked on it. At first, like everyone else, I spent the last hours before the assignment was due printing, cutting and pasting screenshots of my work, or samples of paper that I thought would get me in reach of the coveted A+. As time has gone on, I realised that those Bs and B+s weren’t cutting it, and there was something holding me back. It turns out that bookwork is a lot more than just random bits of work stuck in along the way to make it look like I’d done work, but it was an opportunity; a blank space, to really be creative and to figure stuff out properly. Now, I use my A4 as a workbook, sketching wild ideas, writing down those random thoughts that appear to me at 3am, taking notes in class and anything else that relates to my project so that I can keep a visual diary of my process. This allows me to easily visualise all of my work in front of me, remember where I wanted to take it, scribble out parts that I hate and progress to something even better. Now, I get way better grades, and I’m pretty sure my workbook has something to do with it - I even have them for my personal projects, and at work too!
Hard work goes a long way
When I first started my degree, there were a lot of my peers who seemed to expect that art school would be a walk in the park, and to a certain extent, I wasn’t sure how hard it would be either. It would be possible to scrape through with the bare minimum and graduate, doing just enough to pass each paper - they do say “Cs get degrees” - but that’s not the kind of person I am. I’ve quickly come to realise how much that little bit of extra work pays off in the end. When I’m tired and I just can’t be bothered anymore, I remember that each extra bit of effort that I put into each project becomes a step closer to that A+ that I so greatly desire. Every time I’ve worked that little bit more, stayed up that little bit later and made those few more extra changes, I’ve seen the benefits. Not only do I get good grades, but I feel more proud of my work because it’s better than it ever would have been if I gave up, and when I look at it, I know how much work went into it. It can be tough, but when everyone else is asleep and relaxing, you’re in the process of making something extraordinary!
It’s not like the real world - at all.
I’m so lucky that I’ve been able to work in the design industry since the end of my second year at university, so I’ve experienced them side by side for almost half of my degree. Seeing their similarities and differences has allowed me to appreciate the merits of both and realise what life will be like after university. Now, I love studying design so much and my degree is incredible, don’t get me wrong, but in my opinion, it’s nothing like the design industry at all. The Bachelor of Design does an incredible job of teaching design fundamentals, self-discipline, time-management skills and collaborative working and provides amazing opportunities to create work that allows you to explore your creativity and establish yourself as a designer with a personal brand. You’re given briefs that let you create something in your own style with little restraint and an often imaginary budget. I think this is awesome in terms of having the freedom to create basically whatever you want and to figure out who you are as a designer, but I don’t think it reaaaally prepares you for the design industry in some aspects. It’s rare at work that you can create whatever work you like in your own style, because it’s likely you’ll work for clients with a brand style that suits them and it needs to be stuck to. Unless you’re very lucky, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to create a huge campaign with no budget, or spend hours of time looking at Pinterest for helpful ideas, or work with clients who basically tell you how to do your work well like tutors do. Like I said, university is great, and I wish I could study design forever, but it is very different to the real world, and you have to be prepared for that.
Much love, Hollie! :D