I graduated from the University of South Australia’s Bachelor of Visual Communication Degree course way back in those halcyon days of 1991, so I’ve been a ‘professional’ designer for going on 15 years now, in theory anyway. When you finish your study, you’re thrust out into the working world and justly expected by any prospective employer to be ready to undertake the duties of a professional designer.
That’s rarely the case though, and wasn’t in my particular experience. I left University at a difficult time. Australia was in the midst of a recession, the days when you would see a design firms logo emblazoned on their company BMW were over and work was hard to come by for even the most experienced of designers. The course I did was excellent in regards to the theory of good visual communication, but was very light when it came to the business of an everyday design practice. Times were changing and the course was failing to (or at the very least was lacking in funds to) keep up with the important role computers were obviously beginning to play in the graphic design field, we all know it was inevitable as we scrambled to learn as much as we could from the few Mac SE machines available, trying to wring design gold under the very rudimentary tools set of programs such as ‘Ready Set Go’.
I’m currently in the process of a big clean-out in preparation for moving house. I’ve tended to be a bit of a pack-rat over the years, and I’ve dragged out my graduate portfolio into the daylight for the first time in probably over 10 years or so. It’s an interesting ‘artifact’ to say the least – full of all those past influences of Design heroes, letraset, bromides and cut paper. University is a time for experimentation, to find your direction as a designer, free to create without the burden of client input or budget constraints.
So how does the 21 year old graduate designer scrub up to the 35 year old ‘professional designer’? Over the next couple of weeks or so I’m going to examine each of my graduate projects and review where my design sensibilities where then compared to now – the good, the bad and probably the very ugly of what I offered towards potential employers back those many years ago.