As you may know if you’ve visited this site before, the main purpose of me starting a blog was not to post pictures of my lunch (even though sushi is delicious) or my dog (even though he’s awesome). I set out with the simple goal of writing about my experiences and transition from being a self-employed, full time freelance graphic designer to a full time college student embarking on the path to a Bachelor’s Degree in Design over the next four years. Well, after much anticipation and hard work, my journey has officially begun.
Joschka Goes to College: The First Month of Design School
At the beginning of September 2014 I finally set foot on campus for my first day of design school, and man was I ever impressed. I’m doing my degree at Conestoga College in Kitchener, and am part of the very first Bachelor of Design program in the college’s history. Already boasting a three-year Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design program that is considered one of the strongest and most reputable in the province, Conestoga’s new degree program promises an even more in-depth experience as it fuses design practice and theory with business and entrepreneurship to create an atmosphere that is certain to breed a wealth of brilliant young designers.
With brand new facilities, equipment and labs (so new that they’re still installing glass panelling in the classrooms and finishing all the aesthetic details), Conestoga’s freshly renovated Design Wing will be my home base for the next few years. My profs all seem to be extremely excited to be teaching in this new program, and I’m told that the aim is to establish Conestoga and the Waterloo Region as the epicentre of design in Ontario. I say we start with the province, then we take the country.
First semester’s course load is looking challenging but incredibly fun. Mondays start off with Visual Design, a course that focuses on design thinking and problem solving that promises to really expand my knowledge base with insight from BD program head Tom Bishop. It’s great having Tom’s class first thing on Mondays because he’s always so excited to talk design, and his energy really resonates throughout the class to effectively squash any hint of the Monday Blues. Following a quick break is Leah Scully’s Colour Theory class, which will be a great learning experience for me as we examine the psychological and physiological effects that colour has in design. It looks like we’ll also be doing plenty of experimenting with different painting methods and mediums, which I’m really stoked about because it will be a big change from my regular pencil to ink to digital process.
Tuesdays start with another Vis Des class with Tom, followed by Marion Anderson for Drawing I. This class will be great for me because when it comes to drawing I tend to be incredibly particular and critical of my work, whereas this course is looking to encourage more quick and intuitive conceptual thinking to get ideas out on paper. As much as I hate not having loads of time to work on a drawing, hopefully this class will teach me to be more confident and efficient in my drawing abilities. Finally, Tuesdays wrap up with Ryanne Spies’ History of Graphic Design class – an in-depth study of the theory and methodology behind the craft of the past, and its modern applications in today’s world. I’m excited to learn more about the designers that shaped the mould of my field, and also to have the massive Meggs’ History of Graphic Design textbook that can serve double duty as a bludgeoning weapon if we ever suddenly find ourselves in a zombie apocalypse.
Wednesdays are really fun. First off, Rick Denomme’s Typography class is right up my alley as it focuses on one of my favourite aspects of design; typography and lettering. He’s already got us doing some pretty awesome homework assignments (some of which might make students with a sweet tooth in other programs pretty jealous), and it’s going to be great to flex my creative muscle as I learn more about the foundations of type. After a nice hump day break, David McCammon’s Photography class takes up the afternoon. Photography is certainly one thing I know extremely little about in terms of actually operating and making good use of a real camera, but it’ll be exciting to learn another skill to use in conjunction with my existing abilities. And bonus, next time I’m in Europe I’ll actually have a good DSLR to shoot with, rather than always relying on my iPhone.
No class Thursdays means client work all day! As much as I’m loving being in school, I always look forward to and relish Thursdays because I can work on fun projects with my clients, and continue to apply my work out there in the real world. It’s definitely tough having less time available in my schedule for this kind of work, but I’m happy I’m still able to juggle the two worlds without going completely bonkers.
Finally, Friday ends the week off with another class with Tom, Studio I in one of the new labs filled with nice shiny iMacs. By the sounds of it so far, this class will be a way to apply all of the aspects of the other classes into one project-based course, and use design-focused thinking to solve real world problems in the industry. Icing on the cake.
So there you have it, my life for the next 15 weeks summed up in a few paragraphs. Coming from a background of freelance work and making my own hours, it can certainly feel a little daunting at times to have such a long road of school ahead of me, but there’s not a thing I can think of that I’d rather be studying. The profs are fantastic, my fellow design students are awesome (and crazy talented), even the early mornings aren’t so bad (as long as I’ve got coffee).
So here’s to the baby steps that make up epic journeys, the day by day that comes together to create experiences that shape a life. It takes hard work to make a good thing better, and the beauty is inherently found in the process. I love being a designer.