The question of ‘Too many design graduates?’ is such a big issue in today’s climate that I believe it’s near impossible to sum up within a 750 word limit, which is why my word count goes just that little bit over. I’ve chosen to tackle this question as it directly affects me as a 3rd year student hopefully graduating in just a few months time.
According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency the number of undergraduates studying design and creative arts-related subjects has risen from 87,170 in 1996-97 to 140,195 in 2003-04, a leap of some 53,025 people in only seven years. Add another 16,220 architects (grouped in another statistical category) and it quickly becomes clear that the country is taking its final step in mutating from an industrial nation to a creative one.
So, is this a huge opportunity for employers? Or a nightmare of endless CV’s and just far too many portfolios and final year degree shows to look at properly?
It was always going to be tough to get a job in the industry, I’ve been told that since my ND course but it never discouraged me because I was passionate about the subject and I enjoyed doing it. But the daunting prospect became even scarier when I completed a 2-week placement at Bolton based design company Fudge. They currently have 2 senior designers and a junior designer in their studio. That’s 1 company with only 3 jobs; 3 jobs that are already filled by people who have years of experience in the industry. Why would they want an inexperienced University graduate taking up space? That’s how I was thinking before attempting to answer this question anyway.
With the current economic crisis, things seem to have just become worse for this years batch of graduates, as if it wasn’t going to be enough of a challenge without this added concern. Being a graphic design student though, I’m asked to solve problems all the time and this recession is just another challenge that I’ll have to face and overcome.
As the credit crunch hits and fewer jobs are available, Ian Cochrane is recommending design students to “get out” of the sector, which “does not need you”. He advises graduates to “look for jobs in industries that have vacancies – I mean, if you want to design restaurants, it is good to have worked in one or two”.
Well, that was a dose of cold reality and kind of depressing considering the amount of debt I’ve incurred trying to get such a career. I can see that by taking his advice, you’d get to know your subject inside out, but it’s the designing that I’m interested in and the way in which a design company runs and operates is totally different.
Graduates may not have the experience but in my opinion, design firms need an injection of enthusiastic designers who have fresh and insightful ideas, or they run the risk of becoming stagnant. Referring back to my example of Fudge, they have designers there with much more experience than me, but they still offered me a desk to work at for 2 weeks. It was my first chance seeing how things happened in the ‘real world’ and they were keen to pass on their knowledge of design and the industry they’re working in, but they also asked for my thoughts and opinions on the work they were designing. I was a fresh set of eyes viewing their work and commenting on it, at the same time as doing some work for them whilst they were busy.
I just wonder if Cochrane would’ve listened to his own advice when he was a student? He probably wouldn’t be the ‘industry heavyweight’ he is now.
On a more positive note though, Glenn Tutssel of the Brand Union is much more optimistic. Whilst being interviewed for a Design Week podcast, he says,
“Student placements are really tough out there at the moment… there’s work around for good people who can actually add value to consultancies, so for good people it’s the same old story. It’s my 3rd recession, 30 years in the industry, and the great people out there will always be in work.”
I personally think that that last line should read, “the great, passionate and enthusiastic people out there will always be in work,”
I think these days, the design course has become overly accessible and seen by many people as a trendy and easy option and don’t want to struggle getting a degree, hence the rise in numbers. Michael Peters comments,
“There is too big a supply of young designers and far too many people doing mediocre work.”
I think the students that are creating the mediocre work are the ones that are on the course for the wrong reasons. Not only do you need to be good, you need to be passionate about the subject and be willing to struggle to get to where you want to be, not just be doing it for the trendy lifestyle or the success and ‘fame’ that some designers have. I know that design is what I want to do and that I enjoy doing it, I just now need to find a way to stand out from the many other design students by putting in that little bit more effort and going that extra mile.
I have been emailing companies recently, contacting them asking for portfolio viewings and also asking questions about how they got into the industry themselves but I have received few replies. I’ve found this very disheartening as it happened last year as well with the logbook, but I’ve just got to remember how many other undergraduates are doing the very same thing and not to give up. It’s very easy to just click a link and fire off an email and how is mine going to stand out from the many others that land in the company’s inbox each day? I’m not going to give up trying to contact these companies, but I think I’ll have to think of a new approach. Also, once I’ve established that connection, how am I going to get them to remember me? James and Lauren certainly made an impression down at the Love offices with their teapot, which they left behind after a portfolio viewing (here) I just need to find a way in which I can do the same.
I believe that the economic crisis may actually help the design industry. Even though there will be less jobs, it’ll separate the students that really want a career in design and the ones that aren’t as passionate. The ones that aren’t will give up at the first knock back. Those that want it the most will push out all the stops to get to where they want to be.
There is always going to be a high number of people all wanting the same job as you and with the recession looming, it’s always going to be hard finding a job whatever profession. But as Glenn Tutssel said, “the great people out there will always be in work.”
I’ve just got to keep trying.
Labels: Issues and Practices
I hope they don't mind me posting up photos from when I was on placement there...
I was offered a 2 week placement at Fudge Studios in Bolton in the last couple of weeks in September 2008. Getting up at 6:30am and not getting home til gone 7pm some nights, those 2 weeks were a real shock from the cushy college communte and workign hours! I knew it would be worth it at the end of it all though. I was very nervous on my first day, I didnt know what to expect at all. Andrew Birley gave me a tour of the studios, showing me where everything was and I was then given a computer to use in the Designers room.. for the first week Gav and Robin the senior graphic designers were in and in the 2nd week it was mainly Gav and Christian, Christian being a junior designer. I was asigned the task of designing a blog for a new project management program Fudge had made and seeing as though i'd never done anything like that before, I found it really difficult, but every now and then, Gav would ask me how i was getting on and show me a few pointers. It was interesting seeing what they were up to too. When Gav got given a new brief, I noticed he worked in a very similar way that we do in college. He would research competitiors, see what design was out there and then rought mock-up on the mac some quick ideas and then post them up on the wall and call everyone round to get their opinions. This is something we do at college, but this was a much more quicker working pace... did he all that before lunch!
It was interesting to know that they had a seperate room for all the technical and website making side of things, and they had more tech staff than designers.. eventhough they were in a different room, everyone got along even realised I got on the same train as.... I want to call him Pete but i'm not sure... but we used to walk from the station to the studio together and i got to ask him a few questions about what he did once he graduated.
Also, though general chit chat, it turns out me and Gav had the same tutor on the ND Course at Stockport College so we got to talk about that too.
Whiclst I was there, they were working on the England Squash Identity.. I had to stick those 48 A3's on the wall that you can see on the phot above.. but I got insight on how they prepared to present their solutions to the client.. gathering everyone round to discuss how it should be presented and in what order. Again, very similar to how we work in college.
On my last day, Andy Eccles had a talk with me asking me how it went and what I got out of the placement and just told me some words of wisdom, and also mentioned that I could contact him agan should i need any references which I thought was extremely nice of him.
Following on from the placement, I bumped into Dave Eccles and Gav when Peter Saville did a talk for GF SmIth and he seemed keen to know what i was gettin up to at college. And I also got an invite to their end of year party which was a lot of fun.. hopefully I'l pluck up the courage to get networking and start making more contacts :)
The Web Design Sketchbook, designed by Paranaiv for Hyper Interaktiv.
This is the perfect tool for any web designer. No more layers and marquees - just grab a pencil and let it flow. Great for mockups and client meetings.
The book contains 45 pages with browser windows, and 15 pages with the standard web advert formats.
People waiting on the bench of this bus stop could see their measured weight in the poster space. Fitness First. sit and see your weight displayed on the poster.
Agency: N=5 Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
An innovative hoarding for Berger Paints where a live painter appeared to be extending the blue of the sky on to the hoarding itself. This was done by creating dramatic cut outs in the hoarding in the actual shape of the roller strokes.
Advertising Agency: JWT, Mumbai, India
you can buy that for me here
done and dusted!
Labels: Made by Me
A recent NPR story profiled an intriguing artist and entrepreneur named Justin Gignac. In that story, titled: “Treasure or Trash? Artist Says It’s in the Packaging”, Gignac puts forth a persuasive argument. While an intern at MTV, Gignac relates that he engaged in a discussion with his fellow workers. One of them expressed the opinion that “. . .they thought package design wasn’t important”, according to Gignac.
That made Gignac rise to the challenge. “So I figured the only way to prove them wrong would be to try to package something that absolutely nobody in their right mind would ever want to buy.” Garbage.
That was a few years ago. Since he began, Gignac has sold over 1000 trash cubes of--selective New York City garbage--around the globe. Making the cubes “compositionally appealing”, Gignac sold his cubes initially as “gag gifts” for $10 each. Now, the cubes sell for as much as $100. Each sealed box comes signed, numbered and tagged as “Garbage of New York City”. A small affixed sticker records the date the trash was selected for the cube.
The gist, according to Gignac? “People’s perceptions have completely changed.” Translation: while some people see nothing but trash, other people see art, especially since the cubes cost more now.
....taken from http://www.thedieline.com/blog/
surely this can't be real, can it..?
Finally! My work has been made, photographed, mounted, packed and sent off, pheww! Time to relax one might think! ...Unless there's another student competition deadline set by YCN for next week! :(
Labels: Made by Me
I did ring back the week beginning with the 20th but both times Alan was busy which is understandable. I was then busy with my FMP the week after but I shall continue to try and contact him to try and see him with my work :)