In the past couple of weeks my main focus in life started to be on my graphic design studies again. Not that it wasn’t that important before, but the more this semester took it’s course, the more serious (and stressful) it got. I received several messages with people asking about my art, what I study, why I study, what I like about it or if I would recommend it. That’s why I’m writing this blogpost, and maybe it’s not even a bad idea to tell you what I’m doing and why I’m doing it – I guess that’s pretty much who I am and as I said before, my main focus in life right now.
Why did you decide to study graphic design?
During High School I discovered that I’m neither very talented in science, nor in languages. I’ve never been passionate about anything but art. I planned on studying fine art after graduating from school. At first I finished my apprenticeship as a dressmaker at home and moved to Cologne where I got a job as a flight attendant. I worked for a German airline for about a year – but I knew when I started that it was just some transition before studying. I had a fun time, got more self consciousness, met some people who still are my best friends today and made good money for traveling. I applied for fine art at Central Saint Martins College in London. I didn’t get in. It was my first attempt to get into university and I was disappointed – now I know this college is highly regarded and only the best of the best get a place to study there. I wasn’t ready in any way to study in London but it was a dream I’ve had for a longer time. In the meanwhile I also got interested in design and applied for graphic and communication design at HMKW (the name of my university) in Cologne – somehow I didn’t want to leave this city again and design seemed to be a better option to get a job in the future.
What are your studies about?
The name of my study program is graphic design and visual communication. It’s definitely not only about design; there really are no borders between media design, communication design and graphic design, just main aspects that are dedicated to one of these subjects. I took classes in photography, art history, press, print, entertainment law, 3D and motion design, film, illustration and drawing, app design, color studies and communication. It’s important to learn various things of this broad range of subjects because every one connects to the other ones. For example, working with photography taught me things I can apply when working with cooperate or UX design. If you’re interested in studying the same you should be interested in all kinds of creative fields that design can offer. It’s ok if one of these subjects is ineligible for you, for me it definitely is 3D and motion design, but a certain curiosity to try new things is required.
Do you like studying?
I absolutely love what I do – but it has not always been like that. When I started studying about two years ago, I wasn’t sure if I’m into it. Having a creative mind was in my opinion not something that is controllable. I was creative whenever I felt like it and amazing things resolved out of that. In university it was unfamiliar being permanently under pressure to produce creative and decent works in a short space of time. There were some hurdles I had to overcome, but the good thing is that gradually you learn what it actually means to be creative, you get taught how to encourage creativity and how to cope with stressful situations. I have these moments where a deadline is near and I didn’t even start working because nothing I do satisfies me and I feel lost having not even one good idea. This also teaches you time management. You see, I learned a lot of things and there probably also are things I learned I’m not even conscious about. There are some people that say being educated in creative fields like graphic design shouldn’t take place in university but as an apprenticeship – I don’t have any empirical value in that but I can tell you that my studies are more than practical and I feel more and more prepared and ready to work in that business in a couple of years.
And what about your art?
I get a lot of messages from people asking me about my illustrations and what material I use. First, my illustrations have nothing to do with my studies but here and there I can make use of them. Funnily enough, there is nothing special about my materials. My grandma used to paint and she gave me all her old Aquarelle colors: I only have this one set of colors from “Schmincke” – I guess they’re over 30 years old but still work perfectly. I buy my paper, pencils (Faber Castell) and fineliners (waterproof, 0.3 mm diameter) at an ordinary stationary where you can get all kinds of office supplies. I outline my motive with a pencil, use the fineliner to sketch the final and color it in with Aquarelle. One thing is really important when starting to paint: Don’t be afraid. Just paint! Don’t think about how untalented you are, if something might go wrong, or if it will look good in the end. I promise you, if it’s not you – someone else will like it! In art there is no instruction, there are no rules or guidelines to follow. Just let yourself drift in the flow of colors.