A Design Education Manifesto

A Design Education Manifesto, by Mitch Goldstein, on AIGA Voice.


Always Take Risks

It is easy to learn and then repeat exactly what you have learned. However, you will not grow that way. I can see value in the regurgitation of knowledge if you are a lawyer, but I have a hard time with it as a design student or a creative professional. You should be pushing yourself and you should be taking risks, especially in school. Big risks. Trying what may not work. Asking questions that may not have answers. Seeing if what you throw against the wall sticks. In my experience, taking risks in school has always paid off big time.

Be Aggressive

There are many opportunities available while in design school. For example: collaborative projects, extracurricular activities, and freelance work. These opportunities will not always come to you, you must go get them. Every school has a publications department that designs and produces internal and external collateral. There is no reason that you should not be the person designing these projects. Make contacts and ask for work. If you are talented and a little lucky, you will get it.

Be aggressive in terms of your academics as well. There are two kinds of design professors at school: pushers and pullers. Some professors will push their knowledge on you. Others will make you pull what you need from them. Ask questions of both. Challenge their statements. Ask for precedents. Beyond the curriculum of the class, ask your favorite faculty who they know that needs an intern (because they do know people, I assure you). Ask faculty if they need any assistance with their own work. Find out which exhibits they enjoyed at local museums. It is very important that as a design student you do not sit back and let things happen to you. Be aggressive and create your own luck and opportunities.

Break the Rules

I lecture to my students that they should “fuck the rules” as long as they have a good reason. I have consistently found that the students who are conservative, stay inside the lines and try to appeal to the teacher, are the students who do the most predictable work. Not bad work, just predictable. Defying the rules forces you to stray from the path of least resistance and ultimately make work that is more interesting, more meaningful and more fun to create.

But, that does not mean just be a contrarian for its own sake. It does not mean ignore any and all guidelines. It means take the requirements into consideration and break past them with good reasons and solid ideas. Breaking the rules just to be different is foolish, breaking the rules because you have a much better idea is smart.

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