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Surviving Design School

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survive design school

Surviving Design School

As a recent design school graduate, I don’t have a whole lot of fancy tricks up my sleeve on which to base a tutorial. However, as a recent design school graduate, I do have some advice to share on getting out alive. Whether you’re just starting or you’re in the home stretch, this should be beneficial to you. If you’re anything like I was throughout school, you’re probably juggling that with work and a social life. Maybe you have a band. Maybe you have a kid (in which case, I can’t really speak on the subject, so forget I brought it up). Maybe you’re trying to bring in some cash on the side by working freelance. Whatever your situation, design school is a job unto itself. It’s a gauntlet of X-Acto knives and Prisma markers that seemingly never lets up. And while it’s true that it prepares you for life as a designer, don’t expect life as a designer to be anywhere near the level of madness you’re enduring now. It probably feels like it’s going to last forever, and it did for me, too. I am here as living proof that it does come to an end eventually, and you will be better off for it.

Allow me to paint a picture of what my school experience was like. I started at the Virginia Marti College of Art and Design in the Spring of 2006. I was working part time, and I was putting a lot of focus on my band. We would play shows once or twice a month, and spend a lot of time promoting them. We would practice every week, and eventually we found the time to record a demo. In 2007, I took on a second job when I had to buy a new car. Pile 3-4 projects any given week on top of that, and you’re looking at a pretty hectic schedule. And yet, despite the chaos, I stand here before you today to pass on my wisdom.

art supplies

Tip #1: Get Your Supplies in Order

If you’re a new or future student, you may not realize the investment you’ll be making in your first quarter on art supplies alone. I spent somewhere between $200-300 on my first supply shopping spree. That’s okay though, that’s what financial aid is for. And trust me, generally this will be your biggest purchase while you’re in school (not including software), because most of this stuff will last.

So, what will you need? You’ll have specifics for each course, but there are a few general tools you’ll need for now and forever, so pay attention.

Get yourself a good 9×12 sketchpad. This will be one of your best friends, along with a set of drawing pencils. You’ll also likely need an 18×24 pad of bristol board. As for tracing paper, you probably don’t need to go bigger than 9×12. For larger projects, it’s probably better to use multiple sheets of tracing paper anyway.

For coloring, you’ll want sets of Prismacolor pencils and markers. And don’t hold back, either. While they make them in smaller sets, you might as well go all out and get the 48 pack of markers and the 120 set of pencils. I’ve had my pencils for five or six years now and they’re still in fine condition.

There are some other odds and ends you’ll probably want to grab: T-squares (12” and 18” should be good, though I also have a yardstick T-square), watercolors and brushes, drafting tape, Windsor & Newton bleedproof white (for correcting the inevitable mistakes you’ll make), and various erasing tools would be good for starting out. If you can, stock up on matboard and illustration board, though I would buy the stuff on a project-to-project basis. And lastly, get yourself a sturdy portfolio case and a tacklebox so you can carry all of this stuff. You’ll need it.

Got it? Let’s recap:

  • 9×12 Sketchpad
  • 18×24 Bristol Board
  • 9×12 Tracing Paper
  • Prismacolor Pencils & markers
  • T-Squares
  • Watercolors & Brushes
  • Drafting Tape
  • Various Erasers
  • Matboard
  • Portfolio Case
  • Tacklebox for Supplies

build your portfolio

Tip #2: YOU ARE BUILDING YOUR PORTFOLIO

Let me repeat that: YOU ARE BUILDING YOUR PORTFOLIO! With all of those assignments cluttering up your not-so-free-time, it’s going to be a challenge to make each and every one your best work. Actually, just putting that in words makes me see how laughable that idea really is. In a perfect world, you’d do perfect work all time. Unfortunately, the world we live in is far from perfect, and sacrifices will need to be made.

What I’m saying is that it’s important to choose which projects you’ll be putting the most effort into and which projects you’ll have to, for the lack of a better term, half-ass. I may or may not have focused on the wrong ones when I was starting out. To me, the best way of doing things was to do the fun ones and put the more challenging or uninteresting ones on the backburner. I ended up doing a lot of work that just referenced pop culture, whatever I was into at the time. Very little of this work actually held up enough to be included in my portfolio. So, instead, I would recommend that you focus on projects that could have potential real-world applications. Stay away from copyrighted work. I did one project, a stamp book layout that was based on Mortal Kombat characters. I loved it at the time, but looking back on it, I realize I should have gone with something more universal, like flags, or cars, or something.

You can also narrow down projects by the weight they carry towards your grade. I had one class that required me to develop a fictional product, and then create the entire marketing campaign for it. This was the only project for the course, and was due at the end of a ten-week span. I should have been putting most of my energy into it, but what I ended up doing was trying to balance it evenly with the rest of my classes. The fact is, it couldn’t have been balanced evenly, because it was a huge project, and a great potential addition to my portfolio. So, in the end, did I meet the requirements? Yes. Could I have exceeded them and done something incredible with the project? Hell yes. Is it in my portfolio now? Nope.

Last, I’d recommend focusing on what you know. Say you’re pretty skilled in Photoshop, but you’re relatively new to Illustrator, and you have projects due in each program. Why not focus your time and effort into the Photoshop project? Sure, you can whip up a Photoshop project in no time and then focus on learning Illustrator as you work on that project, which is admirable. However, I’d focus on refining the Photoshop project until it’s portfolio-worthy, and just focus on the basics in Illustrator. You have the rest of your life to learn Illustrator, right? So why worry about making your first attempt at it a masterpiece?

Now, this may seem like I’m trying to teach you how to cut corners, but really, this is about finding the optimal path to success. If you know early on what potential employers will be expecting of you, it’ll be easier for you to zero in on a project that you know will wow them. Also, I’ve never been one who was too big on getting straight A’s. Once you’re out of college, the grades won’t matter, but the work you’ve done will. So you do a few projects that are C’s, but you end up with a handful of portfolio pieces in exchange. Some may disagree with this approach, but like I said, sacrifices will be made, and you’ll see that’s a recurring theme in this article.

manage your time

Tip #3: Learn how to Effectively Manage Your Time

I’m probably the last guy on Earth you should be taking time management advice from, but hear me out. Actually, I’m still trying to figure this one out. Everyone’s life follows a different schedule, so I can’t get too specific, and what you do in your own time is up to you. One thing I would do that I would advise against is brushing off a project as quick and easy. It finally dawned on me late into my second year of school that with design, there is no such thing as quick and easy. Be prepared to spend an average of ten to twenty hours on a project. Any less, and it will show. Oh, and it’s worth noting that presentation is just as important as design, so give yourself at least an hour to properly mount your projects.

Really, time management is going to be the biggest problem you’ll face while in school. There’s not a lot more I can say to prepare you other than you will be challenged. If you’re more of an organized type (though in my experience, designers are a highly unorganized bunch), perhaps you can schedule specific times when you’ll be working on your projects. All I can tell you for sure is how things went for me, and let me tell you this: no matter how hard you try to keep organized, it’s not always going to be in your hands. The printer will break, your computer will crash, your dog will eat it, whatever.

I probably averaged about three to four hours of sleep a night while I was in school. There were two separate occasions where I worked for more than twelve hours straight, right up until that point in the AM where I had to leave for class, and then spend the rest of my day at work.

So… just don’t get to comfortable with the idea of sleep. I didn’t say this would be easy. I just said you’d survive.

take it easy

Tip #4: Take it Easy

As important as it is to set aside time for your projects, it’s also just as important that you give yourself a chance to unwind. I don’t know about you, but unless I have something due in less than a day, sitting in front of my computer trying to will myself to make awesomeness happen just doesn’t cut it, especially after a long day of work, school, or both.

You hereby have my permission to chill. Need a couple hours to rest up before diving into a project? Watch a movie, play a video game, read a book, work out, take a walk, anything. Do what makes you happy. Hell, take the whole weekend off and go camping. You’ve got to treat yourself. Look at it this way: you’re going to school to do what makes you happy, so why be miserable?

On that note, one year when applying for a loan, I requested an extra $500 so I could look forward to a Florida vacation at the end of the quarter (Hey, I was already tens of thousands of dollars in debt because of my student loans, so what’s a little instant gratification?). It might seem frivolous, and again, might not be the best course of action for everyone, but for me it was a great motivator. Like I said, treat yourself. You’ve earned it.

artist reference

Tip #5: An Artist is Only as Good as His Reference

This is piece of advice straight from the mouth of one of my teachers. I’ve gotten in the habit of collecting travel brochures, take out menus, mailers, catalogs, fliers, and anything else that could come in handy when I need inspiration somewhere down the road. These are good for finding measurements, layout ideas, and even graphic concepts. Of course, I’m not expecting you to have physical reference for everything you’ll be working on. Luckily, the internet has you covered there.

I so badly wish someone would have told me that I had more options than just Google Image Search when it came to finding reference for my projects. Unfortunately, I wasn’t enlightened to these sources until the middle of my last quarter. Bookmark these pages and refer to them regularly:

www.sxc.hu
Free stock images. So awesome.
www.thedieline.com
A blog dedicated to the art of package design. I wish I would have known about this one when I was in my 3D/packaging classes.
www.vectips.com
A blog all about vector design, with tutorials, freebies, and other goodies.
www.bittbox.com
Design blog that focuses all aspects of design. The offer free textures, fonts, and other freebies, as well as regular tutorials and links to hundreds of other blogs I can’t list here.
www.textureking.com
Free textures!
www.ffffound.com
Image bookmarking site, great for finding inspiration.
www.freelanceswitch.com
Great blog for aspiring/active freelancers, but also useful for students in that it has plenty of articles on maximizing productivity.
www.brandsoftheworld.com
Thousands of free vector logos

And as always, check back here on the GoMediaZine for design tips, tutorials and inspiration.

Your Thoughts?

I hope you’ll find this article more than useless. If you have any questions or wish to debate my survival techniques, I’ll be keeping an eye on the comments section, so, fire away!

Discussion

We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • Simon H.

    Thanks for that Tom ! I can totally recognize myself a few years earlier :-)

  • http://www.flickr.com/alone_gut gut

    great article! thank you

  • http://www.flickr.com/alone_gut gut

    great article! thank you

  • http://www.williambiwer.com Bill Biwer

    While others are cutting english to goto the beach you’ll be cutting english to put the finishing touches your project.

  • http://www.williambiwer.com Bill Biwer

    While others are cutting english to goto the beach you’ll be cutting english to put the finishing touches your project.

  • Shoaf

    Wow… they still use all that traditional media stuff in schools? I would have thought it was all computer now! (When I went to design school, computer classes were just electives. Yes, I’m old.)

    But really, the cost of supplies was something I really wasn’t prepared for in college. That’s a very good point. Although, I’d buy only the supplies you really need (instructors usually provide a list the first day of class). And talk to some other students who have taken the same course under the same instructor. They may be able to advise you of some items you never really end up using… or some things you can go in with a fellow student to use together.

    Additionally, your suggestion of making a schedule for “studio time” REALLY helped cut down the number of all-nighters for me. Plan a time when you have little other interruptions. (For me, it was really early in the morning and again late at night… EVERY DAY… even weekends.)

  • Shoaf

    Wow… they still use all that traditional media stuff in schools? I would have thought it was all computer now! (When I went to design school, computer classes were just electives. Yes, I’m old.)

    But really, the cost of supplies was something I really wasn’t prepared for in college. That’s a very good point. Although, I’d buy only the supplies you really need (instructors usually provide a list the first day of class). And talk to some other students who have taken the same course under the same instructor. They may be able to advise you of some items you never really end up using… or some things you can go in with a fellow student to use together.

    Additionally, your suggestion of making a schedule for “studio time” REALLY helped cut down the number of all-nighters for me. Plan a time when you have little other interruptions. (For me, it was really early in the morning and again late at night… EVERY DAY… even weekends.)

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    Shoaf – I made sure to lay out only the things I used consistently throughout my time at school, because you’re right, some things you’ll buy and never use (liquid mask, for example). Though looking at it now I realize I forgot to include rubber cement and paper cement, which ended up being essential to mounting my projects.

    Thanks everyone for the comments!

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    Shoaf – I made sure to lay out only the things I used consistently throughout my time at school, because you’re right, some things you’ll buy and never use (liquid mask, for example). Though looking at it now I realize I forgot to include rubber cement and paper cement, which ended up being essential to mounting my projects.

    Thanks everyone for the comments!

  • http://www.gomedia.us Liz

    Great insights, Tom! Art school should be about challenging your creativity and leaving your comfort zone, not about coasting by.

    A meager but practical point to add here is a person’s sense of agency. You could be going to a the most prestigious, money-robing art school in the country — but if you’re not self motivated, you just got yourself in debt for a flashy piece of paper. Like most things in life, you only get what you put in.

    Looking forward to more viewpoints!

  • http://www.marenkellydesign.com Maren

    Haha I love the comment about cutting English to finish your art project- so true! Only for me it was always cutting science- and occasionally cutting to go snowboarding for free, courtesy of my design internship that paid me in free snowboarding at the time! See, art school can pay off!
    Also if anyone is looking for a GREAT design program at a school that you can still get a liberal arts education AND have a little bit of a social life, I highly recommend Chapman University- the BFA program is amazing! Small classes, great teachers, personalized time, good equipment. Check it out!

  • http://www.marenkellydesign.com Maren

    Haha I love the comment about cutting English to finish your art project- so true! Only for me it was always cutting science- and occasionally cutting to go snowboarding for free, courtesy of my design internship that paid me in free snowboarding at the time! See, art school can pay off!
    Also if anyone is looking for a GREAT design program at a school that you can still get a liberal arts education AND have a little bit of a social life, I highly recommend Chapman University- the BFA program is amazing! Small classes, great teachers, personalized time, good equipment. Check it out!

  • Simon H.

    @Shoaf Good point about studio time schedule.
    And prices of the stuff to buy could be a bummer, that’s true. On the other hand, how do you want to learn to draw if you’re just sitting in front of a computer ?

  • ChequeredManiac

    Thanks for the article. I’m in my last few months of school now, looking forward to design college so this was a great help.
    Kep the articles comin.

  • Simon H.

    Thanks for that Tom ! I can totally recognize myself a few years earlier :-)

  • http://forthelose.org Wordpress Themes

    I’d really like to go to design school one day, seems like it’d be a good experience.

  • http://forthelose.org Wordpress Themes

    I’d really like to go to design school one day, seems like it’d be a good experience.

  • Shoaf

    @ Simon: To clarify– I’m VERY glad there are some schools still requiring traditional media. I know there are (unfortunately) some schools just churning out “grads” that sorta know some Adobe software, but wouldn’t know which end of an X-Acto knife to hold.

    Every good designer I’ve met has at least a little bit of drawing ability.

  • Shoaf

    @ Simon: To clarify– I’m VERY glad there are some schools still requiring traditional media. I know there are (unfortunately) some schools just churning out “grads” that sorta know some Adobe software, but wouldn’t know which end of an X-Acto knife to hold.

    Every good designer I’ve met has at least a little bit of drawing ability.

  • LizHunt

    Great insights, Tom! Art school should be about challenging your creativity and leaving your comfort zone, not about coasting by.

    A meager but practical point to add here is a person’s sense of agency. You could be going to a the most prestigious, money-robing art school in the country — but if you’re not self motivated, you just got yourself in debt for a flashy piece of paper. Like most things in life, you only get what you put in.

    Looking forward to more viewpoints!

  • Steve

    I’m a recent art school grad and I think this is a great article. If you aren’t in an art school yet and you are here reading this article, you are one step ahead already. Good luck art students!

  • Steve

    I’m a recent art school grad and I think this is a great article. If you aren’t in an art school yet and you are here reading this article, you are one step ahead already. Good luck art students!

  • VRizo

    BOOKMARKED!

    I love this article! :D

    Probably more so because I’m gearing up for it myself lol.

  • VRizo

    BOOKMARKED!

    I love this article! :D

    Probably more so because I’m gearing up for it myself lol.

  • http://guitarjockey1115.deviantart.com/ Jeremy Newton

    Hey thanks for this awesome article, I’m actually looking at starting design school in July and I’ll be juggling a gf and a part time job on top of that but I’m glad to see you can survive, yes it’s gonna be tough but I know others have done it before me so I can too.

    Thanks for the insight into your life in design school, I wish there where more articles like this out there especially right now cause I’m having to make some big decisions for school.

    ~ Jeremy Newton

  • http://guitarjockey1115.deviantart.com/ Jeremy Newton

    Hey thanks for this awesome article, I’m actually looking at starting design school in July and I’ll be juggling a gf and a part time job on top of that but I’m glad to see you can survive, yes it’s gonna be tough but I know others have done it before me so I can too.

    Thanks for the insight into your life in design school, I wish there where more articles like this out there especially right now cause I’m having to make some big decisions for school.

    ~ Jeremy Newton

  • Simon H.

    @Shoaf Good point about studio time schedule.
    And prices of the stuff to buy could be a bummer, that’s true. On the other hand, how do you want to learn to draw if you’re just sitting in front of a computer ?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/maxdoming/ Max Dominguez

    great article, being a current design student myself I cant help but agree with what you’ve said and thanks for the weblinks, theres a couple I’ve never ran across.

    -max

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/maxdoming/ Max Dominguez

    great article, being a current design student myself I cant help but agree with what you’ve said and thanks for the weblinks, theres a couple I’ve never ran across.

    -max

  • ChequeredManiac

    Thanks for the article. I’m in my last few months of school now, looking forward to design college so this was a great help.
    Kep the articles comin.

  • http://www.creativeworld.com.au/ Leon Poole

    Great read!! These tips are too late for me unfortunately, but I couldn’t agree more with you.

    Design students, take note of these wise words!

  • http://www.creativeworld.com.au/ Leon Poole

    Great read!! These tips are too late for me unfortunately, but I couldn’t agree more with you.

    Design students, take note of these wise words!

  • http://scyberspace.com Rene Merino

    wow… make a tutorial like this was my idea for when I finished school, still I loved it and thanks, you did a great job.

  • http://scyberspace.com Rene Merino

    wow… make a tutorial like this was my idea for when I finished school, still I loved it and thanks, you did a great job.

  • http://aetoricdesign.carbonmade.com Aetoric Design

    Yeah, that’s all good..but will anyone ever want to hire me!!!

  • http://aetoricdesign.carbonmade.com Aetoric Design

    Yeah, that’s all good..but will anyone ever want to hire me!!!

  • jeyaprakash

    nice article, thanks Tom Faraci

  • jeyaprakash

    nice article, thanks Tom Faraci

  • http://www.ryng.co.uk Ryan

    Nice insight.

    As a recent UK grad I wonder how different the design courses are with the States?

    The other thing is design in the real world is easy it’s dealing with clients and all the other bits that is the hard part.

  • http://www.ryng.co.uk Ryan

    Nice insight.

    As a recent UK grad I wonder how different the design courses are with the States?

    The other thing is design in the real world is easy it’s dealing with clients and all the other bits that is the hard part.

  • http://forthelose.org Wordpress Themes

    I’ve alsways had problems wih time management with projects. Sometimes,I just can’t get started, other times, I just can’t stop pplaying around with minor details (damn OCD)

  • http://forthelose.org Wordpress Themes

    I’ve alsways had problems wih time management with projects. Sometimes,I just can’t get started, other times, I just can’t stop pplaying around with minor details (damn OCD)

  • http://sunrainor.blogspot.com Finola Prescott

    Well, I went to Art school a long time ago and tho the internet was not in existence then like it is today;)this article would’ve still been helpful! And still is today – will pass the link on to all my former Art students who are trying to make their way into Art and Design schools – I think they’ll be grateful for your straight up advice.

    You know, these tips are relevant long long beyond Design school – translate the “weight towards grade” to “income or prestige earning potential’ and “there (still) is no such thing as quick and easy”and don’t choose the big new client project to practice using new software on – use what you know creatively.

    Etc. They’re all good tips to carry into your professional life

    And good links too

  • http://sunrainor.blogspot.com Finola Prescott

    Well, I went to Art school a long time ago and tho the internet was not in existence then like it is today;)this article would’ve still been helpful! And still is today – will pass the link on to all my former Art students who are trying to make their way into Art and Design schools – I think they’ll be grateful for your straight up advice.

    You know, these tips are relevant long long beyond Design school – translate the “weight towards grade” to “income or prestige earning potential’ and “there (still) is no such thing as quick and easy”and don’t choose the big new client project to practice using new software on – use what you know creatively.

    Etc. They’re all good tips to carry into your professional life

    And good links too

  • Simon H.

    @Shoaf soooo true :-D

  • Bob Drysdale

    Tom,
    just wanted to say how great it was to read your piece. I’ve been receiving the GoMediazine for a while now and this is the first time I’ve been moved to post a reply. It’s been around 20 years since I left college (here in England) and it’s heartwarming (and a little surprising) to see how little the basics have changed – even with the massive proliferation of computer use in art and design. We didn’t even have them when I was learning to draw. Your list of materials and tools is almost exactly the same as I was using all the way back then, and your caution about the costs is all too true. I was doing 3-D contemporary design back then and, man, the cost of a sheet of copper, brazing rods, even – jeez – did I really make stuff with silver? Needless to say, I soon specialised in the use of “found materials” (basically an arty way of saying junk!).

    Oops – been waffling a while – so to make my point to the readers – THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR LEARNING TO DRAW!!! Yes, computers are fantastic tools offering seemingly limitless possibilities – and I wouldn’t be without mine – but I take great pride in the knowledge that if there’s a power shortage I can still be creative.
    I know that’s a simplistic view of what is a huge arena but I’m at work at the moment and I should really be getting back to it. (by the way – I’m the graphic designer for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service but I promise – I have had nothing whatsoever to do with our website! That’s an external company who really should be able to do better with the money we pay them)

    Thanks for your time people.
    Bob.

  • Bob Drysdale

    Tom,
    just wanted to say how great it was to read your piece. I’ve been receiving the GoMediazine for a while now and this is the first time I’ve been moved to post a reply. It’s been around 20 years since I left college (here in England) and it’s heartwarming (and a little surprising) to see how little the basics have changed – even with the massive proliferation of computer use in art and design. We didn’t even have them when I was learning to draw. Your list of materials and tools is almost exactly the same as I was using all the way back then, and your caution about the costs is all too true. I was doing 3-D contemporary design back then and, man, the cost of a sheet of copper, brazing rods, even – jeez – did I really make stuff with silver? Needless to say, I soon specialised in the use of “found materials” (basically an arty way of saying junk!).

    Oops – been waffling a while – so to make my point to the readers – THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR LEARNING TO DRAW!!! Yes, computers are fantastic tools offering seemingly limitless possibilities – and I wouldn’t be without mine – but I take great pride in the knowledge that if there’s a power shortage I can still be creative.
    I know that’s a simplistic view of what is a huge arena but I’m at work at the moment and I should really be getting back to it. (by the way – I’m the graphic designer for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service but I promise – I have had nothing whatsoever to do with our website! That’s an external company who really should be able to do better with the money we pay them)

    Thanks for your time people.
    Bob.

  • http://www.michaelkubinski.com Mike Kubinski

    Tom,

    First off Congrats! Second you forgot to mention “tisssssue” paper from Mr. Prasek!

    But anyway, good job and it’s good to see other VMCAD Grads doing well out there! Keep it up.

    PS what was your Game System Called again? Was it the one with the Eye Glasses?

    Later,

    MK

  • http://www.michaelkubinski.com Mike Kubinski

    Tom,

    First off Congrats! Second you forgot to mention “tisssssue” paper from Mr. Prasek!

    But anyway, good job and it’s good to see other VMCAD Grads doing well out there! Keep it up.

    PS what was your Game System Called again? Was it the one with the Eye Glasses?

    Later,

    MK

  • masiakowski

    Great job. I was looking for something like that.
    It made me open my eyes to some stuff I didn’t notice earlier.
    Your help with that is much appreciated!

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    I’m glad to see all of the positive responses to my article. Thank you for all the comments!

    And Mike – Mr. Prasek had so many nuggets of half-wit and wisdom to share that I couldn’t possibly list them all here. My game system was called the ACA (short for A Challenger Approaches) and yes, included the virtual eyeglasses. It’s the future of gaming, I tell you.

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    I’m glad to see all of the positive responses to my article. Thank you for all the comments!

    And Mike – Mr. Prasek had so many nuggets of half-wit and wisdom to share that I couldn’t possibly list them all here. My game system was called the ACA (short for A Challenger Approaches) and yes, included the virtual eyeglasses. It’s the future of gaming, I tell you.

  • http://www.gamingtruth.com D’Juan

    As a design school graduate, I wish I’d have known more about Tip #2 when I was attending!

    I was new to art and design, so I didn’t truly comprehend the importance of a portfolio. I just created what felt fun. Upon graduation, however, I had work that I honestly was afraid to show to an employer.

    Add in the fact that I wasn’t as good as my classmates who had been designing for years, and I hated my work. Had I really understood that my work would be what got me jobs, I would’ve worked harder than I already was…

    Great article, and keep up the good work!

  • http://www.gamingtruth.com D’Juan

    As a design school graduate, I wish I’d have known more about Tip #2 when I was attending!

    I was new to art and design, so I didn’t truly comprehend the importance of a portfolio. I just created what felt fun. Upon graduation, however, I had work that I honestly was afraid to show to an employer.

    Add in the fact that I wasn’t as good as my classmates who had been designing for years, and I hated my work. Had I really understood that my work would be what got me jobs, I would’ve worked harder than I already was…

    Great article, and keep up the good work!

  • Simon H.

    @Shoaf soooo true :-D

  • Jessica

    Thanks for this, awesome links! I definitely needed this.

  • Jessica

    Thanks for this, awesome links! I definitely needed this.

  • masiakowski

    Great job. I was looking for something like that.
    It made me open my eyes to some stuff I didn’t notice earlier.
    Your help with that is much appreciated!

  • Marcos Cortes (Dominican Repub

    so amazing thanks for share ,keep up the good work, wish u the best

  • Marcos Cortes (Dominican Republic)

    so amazing thanks for share ,keep up the good work, wish u the best

  • http://lemonsinwater.blogspot.com Alexandra

    Great resources. Thanks so much!

  • http://lemonsinwater.blogspot.com Alexandra

    Great resources. Thanks so much!

  • http://www.mysapce.com/theevertronic Jeff

    as always…great free helpful advice..You guys are amazing! Thank you for all you do!

  • http://www.mysapce.com/theevertronic Jeff

    as always…great free helpful advice..You guys are amazing! Thank you for all you do!

  • http://Limerencecreative.com Bri

    Hi Tom!

    I loved this article, mainly because I am currently a Graphic Design student and will be graduating with my Bachelor’s next quarter.

    All of this is so very, very true. The supplies was something that I was definitely not prepared for either. This quarter alone, because I am taking my portfolio class, I have spent close to $600 on ONE class. (This was for my portfolio case/engraving, business cards, website, prints, etc).

    I have to add that students should start creating relationships with a printer because you will be printing a lot of projects throughout your college career (and after it!). Our bookstore at my school had a printer, but they were very limited. Shop around for a good one in your area.

    I also save all of my books instead of selling them back. :)

  • http://Limerencecreative.com Bri

    Hi Tom!

    I loved this article, mainly because I am currently a Graphic Design student and will be graduating with my Bachelor’s next quarter.

    All of this is so very, very true. The supplies was something that I was definitely not prepared for either. This quarter alone, because I am taking my portfolio class, I have spent close to $600 on ONE class. (This was for my portfolio case/engraving, business cards, website, prints, etc).

    I have to add that students should start creating relationships with a printer because you will be printing a lot of projects throughout your college career (and after it!). Our bookstore at my school had a printer, but they were very limited. Shop around for a good one in your area.

    I also save all of my books instead of selling them back. :)

  • Daniel

    many thanks from el salvador :)

  • Daniel

    many thanks from el salvador :)

  • Mark Szeman

    Hi Tom and others,

    I wanted to ask how old you are ? I not being condescending :) Im 28, and have been in transport and logistics since i was 18. I have some drawing talent :) and I love design and have a real californication broner for illustrator. I spend allot of my free time in-front of it making anything from stationary to catalogs for friends small companies etc, and I know 28 isn’t old but I really want to make a change am I too late ? I would really appreciate feedback from anyone :)

  • Mark Szeman

    Hi Tom and others,

    I wanted to ask how old you are ? I not being condescending :) Im 28, and have been in transport and logistics since i was 18. I have some drawing talent :) and I love design and have a real californication broner for illustrator. I spend allot of my free time in-front of it making anything from stationary to catalogs for friends small companies etc, and I know 28 isn’t old but I really want to make a change am I too late ? I would really appreciate feedback from anyone :)

  • http://www.adjustreality.com lukasz

    you forgot step 1, “don’t die”

  • http://www.adjustreality.com lukasz

    you forgot step 1, “don’t die”

  • http://www.hqubed.com MechMykl

    I’m actually learning these things along the road as we speak! I’m going to Full-Sail University in Winter Park, Florida for a 2 year bachelors of science. I have two classes a month, each for 8 hours a day.

    I’ve definitely benefited from reading the GoMediaZine in the past because of the great tips you guys offer– it’s saved me from quite a few mistakes I see my peers making.

    One thing I see too much are people working on projects, but not thinking about the end result too much. They’ll meet the requirements after killing themselves to finish, but there isn’t much emphasis on real world useability.

    My favorite thing to do is work on a school project, but design it for a client at the same time, even if it’s just a pitch/something to promote a friend’s band. Working as if for a real client helps me keep my work practical and grants a sense of purpose. The occasional extra income doesn’t hurt either!

  • http://www.hqubed.com MechMykl

    I’m actually learning these things along the road as we speak! I’m going to Full-Sail University in Winter Park, Florida for a 2 year bachelors of science. I have two classes a month, each for 8 hours a day.

    I’ve definitely benefited from reading the GoMediaZine in the past because of the great tips you guys offer– it’s saved me from quite a few mistakes I see my peers making.

    One thing I see too much are people working on projects, but not thinking about the end result too much. They’ll meet the requirements after killing themselves to finish, but there isn’t much emphasis on real world useability.

    My favorite thing to do is work on a school project, but design it for a client at the same time, even if it’s just a pitch/something to promote a friend’s band. Working as if for a real client helps me keep my work practical and grants a sense of purpose. The occasional extra income doesn’t hurt either!

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    Mark – I’m 23, I started design school when I was 20. you’re never too old to try to be successful at something you love to do, so I’d say go for it.

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    Mark – I’m 23, I started design school when I was 20. you’re never too old to try to be successful at something you love to do, so I’d say go for it.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk victoria blount

    I wish i had read an insightful article like this before i went to university to do design. It has all the pointers you need to bear in mind, but again cost for my course was an issue. So bear this in mind if you are about to start a design course.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk victoria blount

    I wish i had read an insightful article like this before i went to university to do design. It has all the pointers you need to bear in mind, but again cost for my course was an issue. So bear this in mind if you are about to start a design course.

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    Victoria – you and me both. That’s why I decided to write it. :-)

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    Victoria – you and me both. That’s why I decided to write it. :-)

  • http://myspace.com/wspizzaboy Nathan Templer

    you guys are gods, i am perusing my career a designer and not attending school right now, and your website has became a complete resourse to me. I have learned so much from you guys and you have provided me with the means necceary to make my work look much better than it should be, you guys do a great thing for the design community i hope for all your lifes to be full of nothing but wealth happiness and love. Much respect to all of you at go media. You guys are my heros

  • http://myspace.com/wspizzaboy Nathan Templer

    you guys are gods, i am perusing my career a designer and not attending school right now, and your website has became a complete resourse to me. I have learned so much from you guys and you have provided me with the means necceary to make my work look much better than it should be, you guys do a great thing for the design community i hope for all your lifes to be full of nothing but wealth happiness and love. Much respect to all of you at go media. You guys are my heros

  • Manuel

    Hi, thank you very much – good points! I started communication design 6 months ago in berlin, I know what you talk about.

    I add some points that were important for me:

    - Get at least one USB-Stick and double-save your digital projects on it. Never trust your school’s PCs or Macs, they WILL crash from time to time, and then your 12-hour-project is f*cked – if you did’nt save it on your USB-Stick or harddisc or whatever. This will save you tears.

    - You will need CF-Cards if you have photography-classes. And cardboards plus some good glue for the presentations. This stuff can end up pricy.

    - Time management: Get your stuff done as soon as possible. Worst case is when you finish your work five minutes before presentation. Well, you finished it somehow in time, but you did’nt have time to reflect! I always need that time (but regulary don’t have it), because I’m often so impressed by the first outcome, that I don’t (want to) see mistakes. Build up a critical instance. It needs time (which we will have to manage) but it helps a lot!

    - Practise your presentation skills!!!

    - Get used to coffee!

  • Manuel

    Hi, thank you very much – good points! I started communication design 6 months ago in berlin, I know what you talk about.

    I add some points that were important for me:

    - Get at least one USB-Stick and double-save your digital projects on it. Never trust your school’s PCs or Macs, they WILL crash from time to time, and then your 12-hour-project is f*cked – if you did’nt save it on your USB-Stick or harddisc or whatever. This will save you tears.

    - You will need CF-Cards if you have photography-classes. And cardboards plus some good glue for the presentations. This stuff can end up pricy.

    - Time management: Get your stuff done as soon as possible. Worst case is when you finish your work five minutes before presentation. Well, you finished it somehow in time, but you did’nt have time to reflect! I always need that time (but regulary don’t have it), because I’m often so impressed by the first outcome, that I don’t (want to) see mistakes. Build up a critical instance. It needs time (which we will have to manage) but it helps a lot!

    - Practise your presentation skills!!!

    - Get used to coffee!

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    Manuel – All very good points, especially about the USB drive. Not only is it wise to have a backup of your work, but if you intend to get any work done at home, this will be essential.

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    Manuel – All very good points, especially about the USB drive. Not only is it wise to have a backup of your work, but if you intend to get any work done at home, this will be essential.

  • Ethan

    Hey Tom,

    This is great advice and i love it!
    I was used to doing nothing everyday and then doing freelance design work when i wanted to.
    But now all of a sudden i have two full on design jobs and started University. Kinda spewin that i have to wake up at 6am and go to bed at 2am every day now, but i still love it and the advice you just gave will really help!

    Thank you again.

  • Ethan

    Hey Tom,

    This is great advice and i love it!
    I was used to doing nothing everyday and then doing freelance design work when i wanted to.
    But now all of a sudden i have two full on design jobs and started University. Kinda spewin that i have to wake up at 6am and go to bed at 2am every day now, but i still love it and the advice you just gave will really help!

    Thank you again.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk Michael Thomas

    I am a recent University graduate. When I was there I was running a small business in web and graphic design. This did not go down with the tutors which I did not understand as they thought I was spending more time on my own work than my uni work which was not true. Everyone else worked in the local Supermarkets at set times each day, so my part time graphic and web design work was a lot more beneficial to my degree and I got to drive around in a sports car! Time management is defiantly crucial I had plenty of time to do my dissertation until the last few weeks came around! This all helped though as I now plan my time wisely and get all my projects out on time. I think the key to passing design school is to listen to the tutors and do what they want. Rules of Engagement, if they want it red instead of blue do it red as at the end of the day they will be handing out the grades.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk Michael Thomas

    I am a recent University graduate. When I was there I was running a small business in web and graphic design. This did not go down with the tutors which I did not understand as they thought I was spending more time on my own work than my uni work which was not true. Everyone else worked in the local Supermarkets at set times each day, so my part time graphic and web design work was a lot more beneficial to my degree and I got to drive around in a sports car! Time management is defiantly crucial I had plenty of time to do my dissertation until the last few weeks came around! This all helped though as I now plan my time wisely and get all my projects out on time. I think the key to passing design school is to listen to the tutors and do what they want. Rules of Engagement, if they want it red instead of blue do it red as at the end of the day they will be handing out the grades.

  • http://www.gomedia.us jeff_finley

    Thanks Tom, we are happy to post your articles here!

  • http://malombra.deviantart.com Ferruccio

    It's real interesting!
    Can You produce a downloadable PDF file with this post??

  • http://www.grellowstudio.com Ryan Colgin

    Great article Tom! I'm way out of design school but am recommending this post to design students for reference. I was able to relate to all your points – great write up. Keep em coming!

  • http://adlankhalidi.com myadlan

    wow.. i really enjoy this entry. keep it up Tom!

  • facebook-49704507

    Screw GPA. Where I attend school, the art programs are on a 6-point scale, when the rest of the university is on 10; not to mention that the assignments are mostly subjective. I'd like to see how an engineer would fare if his tests were subjective and the lowest A was a 94.

    I guarantee most of them would be pissing their pants.

  • http://www.jordanparsons.com/blog Jordan Parsons

    Thanks for the tips. I'm in school for Architecture and a lot of these tips carry over. I hope I can work on my time management, I'm beginning to see its not the greatest. Anyway keep up the great posts!

  • http://www.biancayvonne.com Bianca Yvonne

    So true. I'm at Pratt Institute right now, and all the work is crazy ridiculous and learning to manage time and find money for supplies is crucial.

  • mutt

    yep, this is me, only i have a full time job, full time school, gf, and a successful detroit-area band………and i'm not in debt.

    hard work pays off.

  • DreamDesigns

    Mark Szeman –

    I know you this posted this 4 mos. ago, but I just wanted to let you know that it's never too late to make a change. I'm 28 too and I just started going to design school not even a month ago. There are some people in my classes that are even older than me. One guy graduated high school more than 20 years ago.

    Take online courses instead of on campus, that might make you feel more comfortable. So go for it, if that's what you really want to do, but if you have doubts…don't. It'll just be a waste of money…design school isnt cheap…any college for that matter. Well good luck to you and with whatever you decide to do. Take care.

  • DreamDesigns

    Mark Szeman –

    I know you this posted this 4 mos. ago, but I just wanted to let you know that it's never too late to make a change. I'm 28 too and I just started going to design school not even a month ago. There are some people in my classes that are even older than me. One guy graduated high school more than 20 years ago.

    Take online courses instead of on campus, that might make you feel more comfortable. So go for it, if that's what you really want to do, but if you have doubts…don't. It'll just be a waste of money…design school isnt cheap…any college for that matter. Well good luck to you and with whatever you decide to do. Take care.

  • Name

    i ALWAYS cheat on sketch pads. I buy a ream of photocopier paper. good quality for the price of one sketch book (10 dollars for a standard black hardcover wire bound A4 50 page sketchbook and thats the cheap option. One ream of paper 100 sheets cost roughly 10-15 dollars the good quality kind) and then use as needed.

    :D then i get it bound at a stationary shop for under 4 bucks or handsew it together for free. (you can only do this is you're super organized. this kind of thing takes time and a handcraft drill)

  • ninamessina

    Great article!

  • artndesigns

    Hey friend finding continues good news of latest art please give me some ideas to find updated news. I also want to promote my site by updated news of latest arts and designs.

  • Dan

    Excellent job..
    dizi izle

  • John

    Great post!
    dizi izle

  • http://www.domain2host.in Domain Registration

     Good article and very valuable information. Keep it up!

  • drained_out

    I love it when you say “You hereby have my permission to chill”
    I so wish I have the smarts to do that,

    been working 60 hrs a week for the past year.
    I feel deadlines and quality control > you+ me :(