Q and A, advice for graduates

24.09.09 |

Q & A for the Prodesign Educational Supplement 2009.
Advice for design graduates.

What is your specialty / What do you teach?
Design (type, print, screen, internet, illustration ) I work and teach across a variety of media

What qualities and skills is it essential for a graduating designer in your field to have?
Students who are graduating need to be inquisitive; which is more quality than skill. School does not teach you how to be a designer per se, it teaches you strategies to resolve design problems. Motivation, attitude and interest go a very long way; they keep you engaged with the world around you and resourceful enough to work independently.

What advice do you give your students about life after they leave your school?
Honestly, I always tell students to be interested in what they are doing (regardless of what they end up doing). Starting out as freelancers, as so many graduates do initially, it is important that they build authentic relationships with their clients and really come to grips with how much their design is worth. I firmly believe that talented graduates who want to be designers will end up designing if they really want to.
On a very practical level I suggest that students create a blog/portfolio site, spell check everything they write, limit their use of text-language communication to their immediate circle of friends and set some goals.
If I could suggest only one thing, I’d suggest listening to Radio New Zealand National.

Have the demands of the industry changed to reflect the economic climate? How do graduates make themselves valuable to potential employers in the middle of a recession?
The saying goes; ‘jack of all trades, master of none’, but few would suggest that having a working knowledge of a variety of processes/applications/media is a strike against you. From feedback that we get from employers, the best students at internships are the students who make themselves available; they work well in isolation but aren’t afraid to jump in with new ideas.

What are the future trends in the design industry, here or abroad?
Technology and collaboration are two words that will continue to link directly to design for the foreseeable future. Although I personally still have an affection for my 5 year old ipod, technology continues to change and evolve, perpetually altering the way in which we interact and experience, communicate and share messages. In regards to collaboration, although our industry will always have large agencies, there appears to be a shift towards smaller studios. This rise of the small-scale appears to mirror the shift in contemporary values from accessibility of product to knowing the maker. Collaboration is a necessity in the small studio and it is this process that changes the experience of all those involved.

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