If I Knew Then What I Know (Advice to students)


This was the best advise an old boyfriend gave me years ago… and after 22 years I still struggle with it.

:arrow_right: I’m still in school right now, but one of my professors gave students a lot of guidance and advice; one stuck to me like glue and will forever be stuck with me.

:arrow_right: Professor James Bebee (might as well credit him since he’s such an inspiring individual :wink: ) said that college is not just a 4-year plan to see how good you are at in designing with a computer application (although it does help), but it’s also a test of ability to how one can obtain answers to questions, to problems, to concepts through research, interviewing, the library, or all in all, use the resources available at hand. He also said that design isn’t only being aesthetically pleasing, but also encapsulates a plethora of differentiating fields where “form” is not the only thing that must be considered, but “form AND function” will create a Gestaltified creation. The Gestalt Principle, where the sum of all parts is greater than the whole, will also stick to me. Design is teamwork, collaboration, adapting, an exchange of knowledge from one and another to achieve something better. The design field is quite different compared to all other non-artistic fields. Rather than converging and specializing into “one” field like how medical doctors focus on endocrinology or dermatology, designers MUST learn how to “diverge” and spread our senses to capture as much knowledge as one can to help create a “new & improved” design concept. (I now get what “new & improved” means…spend a little time on this…it get’s quite interesting). Design is not only a creative process, but most often a problem solving process. It’s funny because I looked at some of the videos of the “free tools” section at www.aquent.com and the professors that teach in S.F. almost always prefer designers with a “multidisciplinary” background versus a “jack of all trades,” I’m not sure how this goes outside of San Francisco though, since I’ve been here all my life.

:arrow_right: I am ever so grateful that I took his class as my first class in the design cirriculum. If you like information, here’s a link to his philosophy/rational about design. It’s very sad how he’s participating in early retirement. What a loss to all future design students. I’m sure going to miss his guidance and wisdom.


*Note: He didn’t say the above in verbatim, but it’s the general idea with a little bit of input meshed into it.

all very very good advices…wish there was this discussion 6 years ago. my advice for the new comers, just when you think you have arrived at the greatest solution, sit on it…then work some more. another thing, maintain a good relationship with all your friends, teachers, guest speakers, connection is super important in the design world.

As a fellow student studying ID…THANK YOU ALL for your wisdom. :wink:

My advice is;

  • To invest in ideation; its creativity and good usefull ideas companies are awaiting from a designer
  • Invest in manufacturing, engineering and material know how
  • Understand the marketplace the product you design is in, designers are so focussed on products while the companies make money by selling it, many award winning products are hardly succesful
  • Last but most important; get inside the head of the users, designers live in an ivory tower and are no representatives of the consumers and users; get down, talk to eveybody, observe, read and wonder what drives users to buy and use products

    My 2cts worth, I realised this allready during studies but now after 10 yrs I kind off think I am just starting to be somehow be a complete designer… just starting :wink:

Regards, Ron

my advice is:

school sucks, but you have to go to school to learn things.

actually agree.

Don’t get sick. Don’t ever get sick during the school year, it’s lethal.

A couple of days of headache is enough to throw you overboard. Missing a class means missing a week worth of class, means you have to work extra quick to check up once you recover.

I suffered from massive headache and bad sore throat for the past few days and had to pull through the week like usual, or else I will be even more screwed. Now I feel like my blood is drained of sugar… Accumulate a collection of medications. Take them when you notice the slightest sign of virus attack and never wait.

For me, going to a doc and get a medical leave is just an excuse and will not help you at all. Western docs always give antibiotics anyway which I have no interest in. I stick to what always works.

When the school offers cheap flu shot, GET IT. You will be retarded not to… as like in my case.

BTW, headache + no sleep + markers = hell.

dude- your attitude is completely irresponsible. If you are sick, stay home! Your teachers will understand unless you are a total screw off, and then it won’t matter anyway. Instead, you selfishly spread your germs to your classmates, which is probably how YOU got sick. And not seeing a doctor could lead to pnuemonia, bronchitis, etc- and you will be far worse off for it. How much are you learning while you’re concentrating on how crappy you feel anyway?

Then you should tell that to my instructor who was sick the day before I did.

Furthermore I only had one more class to attend, and it was cut short.

There is no need to point out someone else’s view point here.
You can take it or just ignor it.
BTW, I am staying home today, trying to get recovered from the cold.
So, I am saving lot of my classmates’ lives. :sunglasses:

I agree with Cow about taking good care of your health.
And I also agree with Dog that if you are sick, try to recover it first.

Bad health=Bad design

…uni is not vocational tech…your there for an education not a job…build a great folio and network, network, network…



tip 1:
don’t take yourself too seriously… have fun with your work

tip 2:
don’t let negative energy get you down, if you believe in yourself, things will happen

tip 3:
be a cool guy- to have people admire and respect u is so much more rewarding than big bucks and a flashy title.

First, a couple disagreements…

Do not drink good beer. You will go broke. And some of them give a wicked headache in the morning.

Do drink cheap local beer. Something like an icehouse will give you the extra alcohol content for the same price. Enough light beer can give you a great buzz, while letting you get up the next day back to studio in time to get some real work done.

Follow the opposite advice with hard alcohol. Spend a little more for a glass bottle, and you won’t wake up with your face lying on the linoleum floor of your bathroom.

Do not enter school competitions. You will have sooooo many chances to do this after school. Your school is (or should be) operating at such a different level then being concerned with a f-in competition that it should be basically beneath you. Competitions are for marketing yourself. If you found yourself saying “hey, that’s a great idea” then you should go to b-school or social psychology degree.

As for getting portfolio pieces: wah!?!? The best places will hire you if you have a napkin sketch of a brilliant, creative, self-directed design. Not a “portfolio” piece that has been slicked up to enter into a design competition. Be aware that design critique is NOT established - many competitions are sponsored by design magazines that, today, are not anywhere near a critical gold standard: most being influenced by large studios/corporations with deep pockets.

And some agreements…

Sketch! yes, do not sit in front of your laptop.

Spend time outside your major. It will pay back in spades later when you realize that your major didn’t prepare you for 20% of what you encounter.

and finally, my main 20/20 points are…

Do be critical. With yourself and with your classmates. Screw niceties: you do not pay $20k+ a year to learn social etiquette. You are there to learn how to give valuable, timely, incisive, inquisitive, critique.

Do iterate, rinse and repeat. Your designs are crap. And they will be no matter hard or long you work on them. Design it, step back, redesign it. I don’t know how much time I wasted thinking about a concept, making it perfect, then either barely finishing the first version, or not even getting it done. Design is an activity: 5 parts doing, 1 part thinking.

Do understand respect. Respect yourself, your work, and other’s. Design is not light stuff. It is life and world changing.

Do be creative. School is only about learning how to be creative. If school gives one thing: it is the teaching and path to creativeness.

Start looking for jobs early and prepare yourself and your portfolio for them,

Do something you love.

Develop your personal ideology and skills so that the skills and ideas from many projects could be used for one. e.g. Take inspiration from your dissertation to fund the creativity of your major project.

Oh, and get your dissertation done very early, with time for a re-write because most people i know, did just that!

Use the library resources, where else will you find that many books on a subject that you love?

When it comes to work experience, or internships, try and find summer, easter or even christmas placements with a company, who knows, when you leave they may want to take you on. If not it will be very valuable experience, and something employers will see and know you are keen!

Until they get their tenure…

I wonder why not to wear a suit?

I think I had better wear it at designer’s events like job or school acceptance interview, as these are very important for me. I almost never wear a suit, but I’m keen on wearing it when concerning important design events in my life. I think the interviewers may understand watching on my clothes that I know it’s important for me.

What do you guys think about it?

it deepends on the place of business and how “uptight” you looked in the suit. If you are able to put some design flair into it, ie a pinstripe suit with a cool graphic tee and a pair of leather dunks or something.