As Steven Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works”. Why does design matter, you ask? Design is a integral aspect to marketing, user experience, branding, and ultimately, success. It is not simply just an aesthetic.

  • Design Matters—The world’s first podcast about design and an inquiry into the broader world of creative culture through wide-ranging conversations with designers, writers, artists, curators, musicians, and other luminaries of contemporary thought
  • Foundations—The courses that make up the basics of art and design education and how to get the most from them.
  • Do you Have What it Takes?—It takes a certain kind of person to succeed in design. You have to be driven. You have to be dedicated.
  • Portfolio—How to maximize your portfolio and how to tips for creating yours
  • Tips From the Pros— How to tips from professional designers on what skills you need to develop while in school

Batman on Art

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What Kind of Design work should I Do?

Becoming a successful graphic designer (designer) graphic artist or “graphician” as N.J. Werner wrote in “A Lesson in Typography” requires the learning, development of and regular practice of several skills in a wide range of areas. Arguably the most important of those many areas include: art and aesthetic sensitivity, technical knowledge, historical awareness, marketing practices, communication theory, craftsmanship standards, cultural beliefs, sociological motivation, best business practices, and writing ability, among others.

Each art/design student has a unique set of talents, aspirations, and abilities. It is important to take increasing responsibility for developing your particular abilities toward your specific goals. Ultimately, you are responsible for choices about how you use your time to prepare for your future. For most art/design professionals, that future involves art/design at the very core of how you look at the world, which is in turn supported by many other capabilities. Basically, eat, sleep, talk, see, make art/design 24/7.

Dude, don't be this guy!

Dude, Don’t be a Big Lebowski!
Take responsibility for your own development.

Rise & Shine takes you behind the scenes of the diverse practices of six up-and-coming designers. Like you, they’re balancing clients and career with inspiration and innovation. Get a closer look at everything from creative processes and big career breaks to the techniques and technology they use to realize their visions. Travel across the United States with AIGA and Wacom as we visit this range of talented, emerging designers working today and find out what fuels their creativity.

In the first episode of “Rise & Shine,” we visit communication and motion designer Eden Weingart as she moves from the Carnegie Mellon dorms to her new position at Wieden + Kennedy in New York City.

How To...



Draw ’til you drop.

Take every opportunity to train your eye by drawing. Developing the eye is a lifetime job. Drawing imaginatively has its own distinct set of advantages, but development of drawing by direct observation lays the solid foundation for a broader understanding and interpretation of the world around us, both the physical as well as imagined ones. Keep a sketchbook of ideas and approaches to developing your drawing style. For the designer a sketchbook’s true value lies in the ideas that are captured there, the variety of concepts and approaches that are given their very first visual interpretation.

Practice, practice, practice.
Whatever you do or intend to do in art/design, try to practice it as much as possible. This applies not only to your studio area, but also to other types of work. For example, those interested in art/design scholarship or criticism should practice writing and speaking on art/design topics. No level of knowledge or skill that you can attain will be too high.

See as much art and design as you can.
Try to see as much art/design from as many historical periods and cultural sources as possible. Try to make sure that you see the major works of all types in the particular area of art/design that interests you. Seek more to learn the breadth and depth of the visual world than to enjoy what is already familiar. Whenever possible, see original works. Observe the visual design of the world around you—architecture, product design, fashion design, for example—and spend lots of time with visual media such as books, magazines, films, videos, the Internet, etc. Become visually literate.

Get a sense of art/design history.
Learn the basics of art/design history. Work with your art teachers, and otherwise explore to gain initial acquaintance with this material. The understanding of the historical context of visual culture will intellectually prepare you to contribute with your work on a much more meaningful level.

Become a fluent, effective English speaker and writer.
As an artist/designer, you will communicate in art/design, but you will also rely heavily on your ability to communicate in words. Everything from teaching, to writing grant proposals, to negotiating, to promoting your interests, to working on teams relies on fluent English skills. Focus attention on learning to speak and write effectively. Second language fluency increases you ability to interpret specific works from around the world and your ability to relate to the wider spectrum of culture as a whole.

Get a comprehensive liberal arts education.
Art and design both influence and are influenced by other fields of study: the humanities, mathematics, the sciences, the social sciences, and the other arts—architecture, dance, film, literature, music, and theatre. For successful college-level study, you are encouraged to gain a basic overview of ancient and modern history, study in the humanities, the basic thought processes and procedures of math and science, and familiarity with works in as many of the other arts disciplines as possible. Many professionals who work with art comprehensively develop a particular sensibility about connections with history and the other arts. Understanding the basics of math and the sciences supports future work in many design areas. Social studies are related to understanding the context for various art and design endeavors.

Think of everything you study as helping you become a better art/design student.
The best art/design professionals continue to learn throughout their lives. They are always studying and thinking, always connecting what they know about art/design with their knowledge of other fields. Since you never know the direction your career will take, it is wise to gain the basic ability to understand and work in a variety of fields. Keep art/design at the center of your efforts, but accept and enjoy the challenge of gaining the kind of knowledge and skills in other areas that will support both formal studies at the college level and your art/design career beyond.

Students at the NCUR conference in Wisconsin, 2009

Terry Irwin, head of the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University, identified good design as work that serves as an effective, clear, compelling and accessible tool for explaining design’s value to clients, students, peers and the public in general.“So many people tend to think of design as the final step—making a website to launch a product, producing a brochure to announce a new service,” said AIGA Executive Director Ric Grefé. “But these results show not only that design can make a positive impact on the bottom line, but that designers can play a strategic role in solving business challenges.” “We are not decorators, we are problem solvers,” concurred Justified juror Steve Liska, owner of Chicago design firm Liska + Associates. “…how do we, in the design industry, justify our end product, what our value is and why we are a critical part of all communication efforts.”That’s not to say that the decision-making process is easy.“Good design is all about the power and potential of storytelling—how our stories about design can make meaningful differences and an impact. It’s about learning from each other and understanding how the dots are connected,” commented juror Clement Mok, a design and business strategy consultant.“In a challenging economic climate, articulating what we do has become more important than ever,” said juror Petrula Vrontikis, creative director of Vrontikis Design Office. “It is possibly the most useful skill we can master, allowing us to keep good clients and make purposeful (and beautiful) work.”“Addressing change is messy, but it is necessary if we intend to remain relevant as the world continually transforms,” added juror Monica Little of Minneapolis design firm Little & Company.


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