If you have decided to join a Design School, get ready to sleep less. 😉 You will face new challenges and obstacles that drive you to change your daily habits for an exciting Design journey.
I list a number of difficulties or situation you may meet during your journey, and hopefully give you some useful tips to help you overcome them.
First of all, I would like to congratulate Riju who has just been admitted in a Design School to study Product design – and asked me the following question:
Q: How to keep up as a Design student ?
1- Keep faith, keep going.
Sir James Dyson went through 5,126 failed prototypes and his savings over a 15-year span.
“It’s only those who do nothings that make no mistakes, I suppose.”
– Joseph Conrad
There is 2 category of people. Those who focus:
- On the pain of learning.
- On all the new stuff they will be able to do.
– Which category are you ?
- The 1st category tend to think “too much” being analytical and love doubting wondering if there learning method is the best, if what they produce is good enough, if there is better ways to learn…and so on. They want to prevent the pain of wasting there time and effort. They will get ready to learn only if everything will be clear and known in advanced. There is nothing wrong to try to understand the context. But these questioning paralyse students and push them in an infinite procrastination.
- The 2nd category is positive and passion driven. They understand that the global system is not perfect, but they are open to grab all the new principles and details along the learning journey. That category of student keep going and will do whatever it takes to succeed.
Unfortunately, there is a correlation between “The students who fail the most and who complain the most…”.
2– Target the top 10%.
A good number of students get average marks and study for the sake of passing there diploma. Depending of your school, an average level is enough to pass your exam. But it may not be enough to get your dream designer position after graduation. Why ? because professionals don’t look at your marks, but your portfolio. The profile who tend to succeed the most are the one who are self-driven and have a vision of themselves. It’s ok if you don’t have it at start. Work toward it and you will gain confidence.
Don’t be average, target being in the top 10% !
Let yourself be animated by your inner passion for Design. This will push you to higher levels. The marks will follow. If you see that you level is higher than average, take some time to help your pairs and lift them up !
All of us soon or later will slow down during the journey. You will need courage to overcome it and get up fast. A good way to do so, is to remember how excited you was when you received a call or a letter from your school that your were admitted. Your seat at that school is not granted. You fought to get the right to study there. Make your learning in that school meaningful.
Keep in mind these 2 words : Passion and persistence.
3- Don’t study for a job, but a passion.
Inspiration from the world.
A design school is an environment that has nothing compared to any “classic” school of business, engineering, accountancy… and so on. To make it simple, a designer doesn’t aim to work from specific shift from 8am to 6pm. A designer is 24 hours connected to his surrounding from what he sees, feels, hears, eat… His source of inspiration can come from anywhere.
I receive some message from some of you guys who study Engineering, but get somehow bored of feel having taken the wrong path. I can feel your passion when you talk about Design. If you choose Design, there is chance that it will be part of your daily lifestyle.
Take a camera with you and shot anything inspires you. Start to build an image database.
Cut down your social media and emails during the day. Check it one or two times a day will do. Even if you are bored. “Do NOT depend on your phone to get distracted.” Instead, use your imagination. Enjoy looking at people around you. Look at how they live, stand talk each other, what interaction do they have. Remember that a designer is an Observer. Take some paper and sketch them. Please, “feel the REAL world that vibrates around you instead of looking down on your phone.”
To enhance your senses: I believe a designer gain in potential if he travels. His imagination will be “richer” being fed by diversity. What is true in a certain culture may not be in an other. If you can, ask your school if they have partnership with foreign universities. The foreign school fees should be free.
eg: For my personal case, my major is Product design (Studied at Creapole-ESDI in Paris), and I took the opportunity to fly to Los Angeles and learn Fashion design for summer at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising), while my friends was having holiday. That experience enriched me in so many points: language barrier, autonomy, responsibility, safety, foreign culture understanding… this trip where I had so much fun is still part of me today.
4- Invest in yourself.
Build yourself – Opensource.com
You won’t meet your friends, girl/boyfriend or family as often as before. Best is you inform them about this situation to get there understanding (which is different of approval). If the people you love support you, your chance of success will rise. You will miss them, vice versa. But they will cheer you up to reach your goal.
Share with your surrounding what you do. Inform them that you will need to need a lot of time for yourself, and you are sorry if you may appear selfish. You won’t be able to allocate as much time as before to your relatives and friends. However, if there is anything important you will be there to support them as well as they support you.
5- Get rid of your eye bag.
On top of your weekly planning, you will have to allocate a big number of hours for your homework. Get ready to reduce your number of sleeping hours. I still remember myself finishing my homework after a whole night of rush, printing the boards, paste them delicately on the foam board, cut them and bring them on the subway – doing the rehearsal of my speech in my head and get ready to be present the same day.
Such thing will happen to you a couple of time per year (or month ?). I don’t recommend you guys to work that way every time if you don’t wanna meet the burnout. Even if it’s a great experience to work under pressure, keep it for special cases. The hint is simply being organized and respect the “luxury” time your teachers will give you. As a student we tend to do everything last minute – and mistakes love to appear when your attention is low and your time rush. Try to do not make it a habit, you will sleep better.
6- “I only want to show when it’s perfect !”
For whom are perfectionist. It’s a dangerous skill. You have a high expectation on your work, but you may not be able to finish your project on time. The worst thing that could happen for a professional is to do not show up the Day of the client presentation. If your time is limited, learn how to make concession, and look for ways to get things done good and fast instead of spending too much time on details.
At start, you may not have the skills to have the greatest sketches. But you will learn to deliver on time with professional boards and presentation. Remember that the most important is to convey your message with a board that looks professional – ON TIME. Accept your weakness, and work on them along your next projects. But YOU have to deliver on time. At school, you are the only one concerned. In real life, many people depend of your work.
7- Intensive and overwhelming.
Forex Rising curve.
You will start learning a big amount of new stuff – from your class of technology, ergonomics, sociology, trend… and of course sketching. Your brain will be overwhelmed. Some days will be tougher than others. And when we get overwhelmed, we tend to give up easily.
Keep going and keep making mistakes. Accept that making mistakes is part of of the learning process. Your curve of progression will go up and down, but if you look at the big picture, your effort will pay off and that curve will globally naturally go to the peak.
8- Believe in yourself
Complex map of Japan subway.
You may feel lost and see other student do better than you. Discouraged, you seams going no where. You think your are not made for that discipline, and wanna give up. If you feel in that situation, try to see WHY that situation affect you so much:
- Are you wondering how you re gonna tell your parents you wanna quit ?
- Are you wondering what people will think about you if you give up?
- Or are you feeling sad because you feel you can’t achieve your dream.
If the answer is the last one, then please keep faith and fight for it. Remember that:
“Every artist was first an amateur.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
You can only succeed if you believe in it. Get back to the game, and continue to fail. It’s ok, why ? Because everyday you grow a bit more. There will be a moment that you will know enough and get an exponential growth.
9- Blaming others.
At start, we may keep failing and tend to be discouraged. The school fee is expensive and our expectation is super high. And it become “easy” to blame the school, the teachers, the non inspirational room we rent… for our failure. But remember that a school don’t know any magic trick – most of the results will come from you. “Take the school like a guidance, a coach.”
A quick reminder from a previous article is to make sure to do enough research about the school you apply. It’s not because that school is expensive that means it’s a good place to learn. It may just be a great scam. (Don’t be impressed by a school having the latest computers and technologies. What count most is your teachers knowledge and ability to cheer you up).
Keep your ears in alert. Remember what your teachers say. Some of the precious stuff I learnt has been told once only.
10- Compete with the outside world, and team up with your pairs.
The outside world is constantly in competition. However, make your school a place of sharing and fair competition to study in a safe environment.
Make your pairs your partners – and your fair competitors.You guys will grow much faster working hand on hand. Trying to challenge your pair, you will discover new things before the others, and be glad to share with them, vice versa.
If you are also student in a Design school, share with us your difficulties and your solution in the comments below ! 🙂