A Means to an End – How Design Education Contributes to a Better Career!

A Means to an End – How Design Education Contributes to a Better Career!

What is the future of art and design schools? This has been the common topic of discussion in most design-related conferences for as long as I can remember. It leads to heated debates too, for obvious reasons. The academic curriculum of the institutions providing design education is under scrutiny, and as a result, the forerunners aka teachers are paranoid. Irrespective of how different people respond to the idea, the question, if raised too frequently, can be a real threat.

Curiously, other professional qualifications are not brought into court so frequently to discuss their future. Is it because design is a field where more self-taught talent is surging? A reputable organization, for instance, may never hire a person who claims himself to be an expert in mechanical engineering without a degree, but they might consider a designer just having a strong portfolio. So how does the bachelorette in the design field give you an edge?

What a Grad Student Expects from Their Design Qualification?

The average grad student hopes for a better career, a competitive advantage which gives them an edge over other rising designers (with or without a formal education). Since design education includes the basics as well as the advanced courses, it is the perfect opportunity for designers to explore their specialty while simultaneously building their portfolio. At the end of the day, a qualified designer will have a precariously poised advantage on the following grounds.

Teachers are Your First Mentors

Most of the teaching faculty in design schools are seasoned designers, creative professionals who can quote from real life and speak from experience. They become the mentors who provide the most effective academic support for beginning designers. Your teachers make an effort to understand your needs and challenges, and sometimes provide one-on-one consultation too, which is a privilege. So the designers going through formal education have accumulated design wisdom and art intelligence from experienced teachers, something that most freelancers miss out on.

Don’t Have to Go the Extra Mile

Most freelancers, or people with a creative eye, have the talent and the skills but they have been denied decent jobs in the past. So what was the outcome? Did they stop trying? Of, course not! They went on active client hunts to find someone who would give them a chance. Sometimes their work was appreciated, and at other times, they just had to let their work go without pay. In contrast, a formal education provides more exposure and trains you to deal with your client so that you don’t have to go the extra mile. Besides, the DIYers have had a tough time dealing with logo copyrights and plagiarism issues, and this is where a qualified designer has the edge.

Also Explore: Video: Copyrights, Trademarks and Derivative Designs

Employer Asks For Degree

No matter how much we try to deny it, the bitter fact is that an employer will usually ask for something more substantial than a portfolio. If a qualified designer has a solid portfolio, let’s admit it, the balance will be tilted towards them. A studio might hire a freelance designer but in an organization with a proper recruitment process, the employers have to base their hiring decision on something more substantial. So to get yourself covered, you better have a degree.

Disruptive Technologies Introduced in Academics

Art education is under tremendous pressure from the state and provincial governments to change its current mindset. The core belief follows a humanist approach where the expression of self has always taken the central position. Basically, this is a form of art which provides a therapeutic effect.

Currently, the design education is going through a paradigm shift. Particularly since disruptive screen technologies have entered all forms of education, to a point where they can no longer be ignored in art and design. So previously, if you imagined your own canvas, now you have to re-think while keeping in mind the 4-inch screen canvas. This is perhaps the biggest dilemma of contemporary art education. Designers believe it to be one of the core reasons which hijack creativity. However, that’s just one perspective. Generally, it is accepted as better for the future of up and coming designers.

Trends are Easy to Follow

When you study new approaches in design, you get an instant urge to share the news across your niche, and also find online trends around the topic. This means a person going through formal education will have better opportunities to follow trends, and share unique and creative ideas according to those trends.

A degree will help separate you from the stacks of resumes that are submitted. If you have, say, an outstanding portfolio and a degree, this holds much more weight than someone who is new, young, and trying to get a foot in the door without those type of credentials. In the corporate world, if you have strong drawing skills, are good with people, and HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO MANAGE A TEAM, you are golden. Most artists cannot manage or organize. Those whom I have known to possess both these skills, tend to be highly successful.

Though a professional design education is the means to a better career, it can never be a guarantee in the world of art and design, even if it is true for every other field. Perhaps this is the reason why DIYers, freelancers, and the self-taught talent is an emerging phenomenon. I would say there is one more thing that misquotes formal design education, and that is the industry. Check out this Infographic:

Design Education

Well, that was my stance on the topic. What’s your say in the matter? Share your comments below.

Mehreen is a social media buff and design blogger, who keeps a keen eye on graphic design trends. She has a passion for experimenting with design ideas, and wouldn’t mind if it means going out of her way to find them in Timbuktu. Follow her on twitter for daily inspirations and findings.

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