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The transition from a college to a studio environment is a huge jump for new design graduates. The fictitious character of the client for class briefs becomes a very real factor in the design process, and initially for most, it can be quite a hamper on one’s creativity.
They say that you learn more in the first six months of being in the industry than your entire four year tenure in university … well it’s absolutely true.
Factors such as application, budget, revisions and production (to name a few) can catch a new graduates off guard, enough to throw one off track. This is the crucial aspect of the transition, realizing the major differences between student projects and client projects. Scary, yes? But not to worry, after a few jobs, it’s safe to say you’ll have properly adjusted, which is why I’m going to address what I feel is the underlying hurdle: simply understanding yourself.
There’s nothing better than learning by being thrown into the fire but it’s the personal details and habits that one needs to pay closer attention to. Understanding oneself is of utmost importance, so with every brief try to take note of your work habits, processes, and time management. Soon you’ll be able to figure out quotes / timelines for jobs and this understanding will bring more focus into your creative thinking. Remember constraints are your friend—because we all know how much of a headache a open-ended project can be. You’ll be able to allocate time for research, ideation and concept generation, production in a way that best suits your processes.
It may sound a bit strict and contrary in a creative field but the goal is to develop a system, a design process that brings out the best in you. Working on freelance jobs on the side while in school is a good way to pick your own brain and nature as a designer. If not, get together with friends, organize briefs, with realistic budgets, timelines and goals and be each other’s clients (just be respectful of the process and treat it as a real job, otherwise you won’t take very much from the experience).
Try different approaches, because one really has to feel it out to figure out what works best for them. It’s also important to note that it’s not a one and done deal. It’s about constant refinement, I myself am still figuring out and fine tuning my own design process. As a designer, don’t ever stop being a student of the world and your life.