Struggles of a Graphic Design Student

To whomever is reading this, hello! Welcome to my blog and my first post!

I’m not quite sure what to make of this blog yet, but I guess we can go on the journey together. As you can see from the title of this post (and my “About Me” page), I am a graphic design student. Graphic design is something I’ve always been interested in, but never knew the right steps to take to start. I can’t draw, and I always struggled with Photoshop (I still do), until I found out about Adobe Illustrator. In 2011 I decided to go to Academy of Art University for fashion design. After about a year, I realized it wasn’t for me. So I took some time — LOTS OF TIME, really — to work and just try to figure out what I really want to do with myself. Fast-forward to 2015, and I’m enrolled in a graphic design certificate course at my local city college. Turns out that I really enjoyed it!

The first semester went really well. I took all the intro classes I needed to move on to the more important ones. In my second semester, I came across 2 classes and 2 teacher that became my biggest challenges: Illustrator 1 and Graphic Design 1. I was SO excited to take the Illustrator class because it is my most favorite program to play with at home. Plus, I already had a basic knowledge of the main tools I’d need to master, like the Pen tool I’d used in a previous class and on my own.

I enjoyed the class for about the first month until I saw how crappy the instructor’s teaching style was. No order, no structured lesson plans, no help, no heads up about what was being taught or talked about for each class. It was just an absolute mess. On quiz days, you think you’d take the quiz first thing, but NOPE! He would review the notes from the last week and then start talking about brand new subjects before the quiz, which, by the way, seemed more like a 3-page exam. Honestly, this teacher just didn’t know how to run his Illustrator 1 class like he does with his Illustrator 2 class. All in all, I, along with many other frustrated students, did not do well and had to retake the class the following semester.

Graphic Design 1 was more arts and crafts-y, and I kind of enjoyed it. We had 3 to 4 major projects in the class, and most of mine had something to do with Japanese Nostalgic Cars or breakdancing due to the influences of my friends, brother, and boyfriend. One project was to make a logo or identity design. I based mine off of my boyfriend’s car club. Now, Japanese car club stickers don’t really make sense, so I used that as a design perspective. I explained my ideas as well as Japanese car culture to the entire class because no one really had any idea of what it was. When I came into class and showed everyone my first rough, it was quickly shot down by just about the entire class along with the teacher. That’s when I learned my ideas and work were very different from those of the rest of the class. Everyone else pretty much stuck to drawing, illustration, and photography. Now, when your teacher tells you that you can do whatever the fuck you want, and then pretty much tells you, “That’s not art” or “That’s not correct,” your view of them turns to extreme dislike. Obviously, you can’t please everyone, but I decided to keep pushing through and stand my ground. She ended up giving me the worst grade, along with a “this doesn’t make sense” comment. After putting in so much time and effort, I felt so frustrated.

I’ve taken this current semester off due to the lack of classes offered, but the time away from school has been extremely refreshing. I’m not stressed over project deadlines, exams, or finding ways to please my teachers with my own style of design. It feels good to step back and relax and recharge. And in my time off, I still hop on Illustrator and Photoshop, and I reset my Codecademy lessons to refresh my memory. I find myself learning more by trial and error and with YouTube and Adobe tutorials than from teachers that are incapable and/or unwilling to help me succeed.

So if you’re a graphic design student and find yourself struggling, it’s OK. You’ll get there. WE will get there. Take your time, practice, and eventually you’ll find your own personal style and learn not to care too much about other people’s opinions.

Sorry for such a long read! I wasn’t expecting to type up a short essay, but hopefully the posts to come won’t be as long and will have pictures.

Thanks for reading, and see you soon!
-Alexis

9 thoughts on “Struggles of a Graphic Design Student

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  2. Wzky says:

    Interesting how your class is. I understand the whole no set plan thing, I do 90 Credit Media and Games Design (3D modelling, Graphics design, concept art) and the Modelling tutor is so bad she just goes over what she shown us already for half the lesson, every lesson without fail.

    However Graphics Design is a big hobby of mine so I’m trying to learn it, sure my tutor goes slow because my class does but as you said, YouTube tutorials can do a lot more, which is where I also started.

    I hope your classes get better than they seemed, and my suggestion would be to do what they want you to on certain things but don’t worry if they say “it’s not good enough”, it’s just them trying to stick to the curriculum and follow what they’re told, cut them a little slack and just keep trying, even if they don’t like it, post the work into your portfolio, it can help a lot for future jobs and stuff. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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