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Coping with the first year of your graphic design degree

2 min, 31 sec read
8:45 AM | 1 December 2014
by Sepideh Zolfaghari
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My first year of graphic design was very full-on. I managed to work on projects about chocolate chips, Dominos, creating a book made up of 1001 pages and even broccoli, which is something I never imagined I would do as part of a graphic design course. I am currently in my second year at Kingston University studying Graphic Design. I thoroughly enjoyed my first year and I learned a lot. Here's some tips for how you can get the most out of your first year of graphic design.

My first tip is don’t be afraid to experiment with your work. Go out and try things and don’t sit in front of a computer 24/7. It’s the worst thing to do. Some of my best projects were very serendipitous and "happy accidents" as they call it.

”Sum up your project in a sentence. If you can’t do this, re-assess what you’re doing.”

Our main tutor, Zelda, would repeat again and again to us “Don’t be precious about your work and ideas.” Something I couldn’t agree with more. My first year really taught me not to latch onto ideas and have a final outcome in my head. Start out with an open mind; no idea is a bad idea especially in the early stages of a project. You will get this gut instinct about what’s good. Trust me. If the idea your discussing makes you have this sensation then just go with it. 

Which leads me onto my next point. Talk to people. Simple, but something I feel people forget at times. We had many visiting tutors and many crits to discuss our projects and the progress of them. Go talk to your peers, even talk to any friends who are on different courses as they will have a completely different outlook on a project which is very refreshing. 

Sum up your project in a sentence. If you can’t do this, re-assess what you’re doing. Something I learned in first year was that if you can’t sum up your project in a sentence or two, you don't really understand what you’re doing.

”Your computer is a tool to aid your design not to control and make everything for you.”

Go out and observe. Go to exhibitions. Take a different route when going for walks. There's a moment in most projects when you will hit a brick wall or go blank. It’s natural don’t worry! I find the best thing to do is not to sit at a computer making endless Google searches on a topic. Talk to people, engage with the subject you’re exploring. First hand research is always better than something produced from a laptop from start to finish. Just remember, your computer is a tool to aid your design not to control and make everything for you. 

For more on the world of design, including job roles, work examples and recommended resources, have a look at our guide to the design industry.

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