I distinctly remember sniggering in a lecture on information design with my fellow students while the tutor ranted about how “Neville Brody couldn’t design a bus timetable”. I now find myself the wrong side of 15 years later taking great pride in putting together an application form, or equally coming up with a grid structure or colour palette.
My point being that I was extremely fortunate to have a great design grounding. For a large chunk of my first year we used just two typefaces, the benefit of which was that we didn’t get bogged down by the vast choice available. We would spend weeks laying lines on a page then building up to type, without the aid of a Mac. We then had the ability and support to develop our learning process through the final two years. Having met various new designers over the years, and of course my colleagues in my early career, I’m not entirely sure designers are leaving university with anywhere near this level of ingrained knowledge.
Of course, we can all make campaigns look beautiful, but we are after all communicators first and foremost. In my experience, it’s the many layers of a design that bring it to life and make it stand out from our competitors. Spending time developing a colour palette, choosing just the right typeface from the thousand we have access to – these are just two of the elements that can really make a difference. In the past, I have worked with designers who had no idea what a Pantone book was or, when asked why they had applied something to a design, simply replied: “Because I like it…”
Of equal importance to my training, perhaps, was the obvious passion of my tutors. This is something I have tried to take forward in my own career over the years, whether working on the simplest of jobs or largest campaigns, and also passed on to new designers I’ve worked with, particularly during my time at HROC. After all, your design knowledge doesn’t begin and end at uni. Whether new designers feel they are getting that level of commitment from their tutors nowadays is a question only they can answer. And whether that design training is value for money is, of course, a subject for another blog altogether.