We are officially halfway done with our Master’s degree in Interactive Media. Why does time dislike stretching itself out on a hammock in the Caribbean just to sip piña coladas and take everything in? Why does it have to rush around and make a good time end so soon? I’m not ready to find not only a job, but a career path and I certainly don’t want to leave all the crazy kids that have become my iMedia family. But here we are, with only 5 months until I have to be ready. So I guess now is a good time to look back on my first semester and think about what I’ve learned, here’s what I’ve got:
1. I won’t get it right the first time. Your first idea will be your baby and you won’t want to let go of it. But you need to. It won’t be your best one.
2. I won’t be the next Paula Scher. Homegirl is the tits at design. I truly admire her and her work, but as much as I may admire her…that won’t turn me into her (where’s the Polyjuice Potion when you need it most?). I could probably practice design for years and never be as gifted as Paula Scher. I’ve accepted that design may not be my calling, as much as I may have once wanted it to be. I think my strengths lie more in writing and coming up with the weird ideas that get perfectly executed by others, but maybe I’m jumping to conclusions since I have only ever had one formal course in design and aesthetics (that being this one). I’ll give myself some more time.
3. Sometimes color-coordinating your bamboo drawer full of Keurig K-Cups is okay. Breaks are necessary. Breaks stop you from going bat-shit crazy. Breaks give you time to stumble upon inspiration is the least likely of places. Sometimes grabbing a margarita (or two) and downing queso with friends can work more miracles on a mental and creative block than staring at a computer screen and gouging your eyeballs out.
4. “We don’t get hired to make pretty things or win design awards. We get hired to solve business problems.” – James Bradley. Design is problem solving. Design is making things easy and understandable while still looking good.
5. iMedia students are weird. But they’re also some of the most creative individuals I’ve ever met.
6. Do it with purpose. Whatever you do. Process is everything. Sometimes beautiful mistakes happen that turn into your best work of art, but more often than not…you’re going to have to come up with an idea, burn it in a fire, start all over again…rinse, wash, repeat. Do this until it works.
7. Design in a way that opens minds to new possibilities, rather than closing them. Weave stories into your design. Communicate clearly.
8. Be knowledgeable. Understanding different forms of art and artistic movements will help you to be aware of the potential for art in any situation. Keep up with current trends and be aware of what those at the top of the industry are doing.
9. Design in a way that is visually arresting but also conveys meaning. If it looks phenomenal but doesn’t clearly communicate a message, it’s like a Nickelback song: only good for parodies.
10. Helvetica is beautiful and timeless. But it is not the only option.
11. Egos are meant to be bruised. This is a hard one. Nobody likes to hear their work is anything but perfect. But criticism can only make you better. Scratch that. Constructive criticism can only make you better. I feel like I not only learned how to take constructive criticism this semester and harness it to improve my work, but I also learned how to give constructive criticism in a way that offers a solution. I think there are some people who never learn that and they only know how to rudely criticize others because they have a personal vendetta against you for some unknown reason.
12. It’s okay to not be the best. I used to be a perfectionist. It’s a rough life. Probably explains why I have 5 grey hair at 24 years old. But coming in to a program that is an ENTIRELY new field for me (I had never even OPENED Photoshop until Brad’s class on Day 1 of Bootcamp this summer), I had to quickly learn that I wasn’t going to be the best and trying to be a perfectionist would slowly make me lose my mind. I had to learn that it’s okay to not get straight A’s and that there will always be someone who is lightyears ahead of you in talent and skill but that should only push you to be better than you are, rather than just making you feel bad. There were many times throughout the semester where I honestly felt defeated and that I had no reason to be in this program because…what did I have to offer? But I’ve learned that while my designs may not be the top of the class, it’s okay to be a work in progress, to ride a little slow on this learning curve, and that as long as you’re trying and pushing yourself to be better…you’ll eventually be the best.
13. “You gotta be who you are, no matter how dangerous it is.” – Lawrence Weiner. I like quotes. So much so that I have a quotationary.
14. We will never be done learning. We will never be perfect. But we can get close.
15. I’m a genius. Okay, maybe not technically…but my former self is pretty damn astute (former as in my self from September, which definitely feels like a former self after all we’ve been through in just a few short months). So I wanted to end this post with a thought I had in a previous post and is one of the biggest take-aways that I think we can all get from our Visual Aesthetics class:
It is our perceptions of what’s going on around us and how our mind wants to interpret it…that is what is real. It may not always make sense, but trying to carefully guard sense in life “squelches curiosity, change, variety, and finally, all delights in life.” As producers of interactive media, we don’t want to follow the rules of common sense. We want to push boundaries, sneak as close to the limits as possible without actually reaching it. We can be the authors of what is possible. We can break boundaries, rather than narrowing them. What we imagine is what we can make real.