Today I had the pleasure of participating in portfolio reviews of a class of design students at a local community college. There were two observations I came away with.
The first observation was, good design can be nurtured anywhere. I know in Phoenix there is a bit of snobbery when it comes to where you went to school for design. Many of the larger firms here turn their noses down on someone who didn’t get their degree from a university. I can personally vouch for that.
Don’t get me wrong, I agree that the design programs at the university level are very good and have very talented instructors and do provide a broader curriculum for the aspiring designer. However, in design, the proof is in the pudding, as they say. I believe a young designers portfolio is the best resume they can have. Also, the art and technical schools have come a long way in recent years and provide a very good education.
I don’t think it’s wise to discount someone based on where they got their degree. If you see a spec of talent in someone then grab onto them, mentor them, inspire them to be the best they can be. I remember kids in my class that I thought were really good but didn’t get that chance and ended up as a lowly desktop publisher at the local print shop. Their raw talent squandered away. Who knows what they are doing now.
My second observation was the high quality of their work. These kids have no practical experience in design but their work was really good. Some of it was ready to go as is, others needed some more refining, but they were on the right track.
Their generation has grown up with so much visual stimulation that they just “get it”. I don’t think I “got it” that quickly. Quite frankly I didn’t even know what graphic design was. I wanted to be a marine biologist when I graduated from high school. It took me about six years to figure it out. I had exposure to the world of layout and design through my yearbook and photography classes but honestly didn’t think that was an actual career. Boy I’m sure glad I figured it out.
I’m happy to say that the future of design is in good hands. I thoroughly enjoyed discussing with these students the methodology behind their work and what their plans for the future were. I was re-inspired about my profession.