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  • Writer's pictureDrew

Is this a sign of things to come?

Updated: Feb 20, 2019

I have been working towards a larger project while studying at University and have begun to explore separate artworks that spell out a word, that when viewed with the other pieces, create a typographic phrase.

The word of the day is TEACH.

TEACH original lettering

It's funny really, because in the 4 years I've been back in education, one of the most regular things that has been said to me is "You should be a tutor" or "You should teach".

I used to put this down to the fact that when we were left alone as a class to get on with things, I was sought out by other students to show them things. I was usually asked to explain how to do something in Photoshop or Illustrator. Sometimes I'd look at someone's work and have a discussion with them about it, which might result in me suggesting a designer or artist that they could look up; or just generally offering my ideas about different creative methods.

During the first two years of my adult education, I was lucky enough to have been guided by Vince Patterson who was an inspirational tutor with the ability to wax lyrical about design, opening up new avenues to explore and introducing me to the work of designers I'd never heard of. You really felt like Vince had his finger on the pulse.

His classic "it's getting there" response to requests for feedback let us know that we were on the right track, but that we needed to do more work, and when you really stopped to think about it, all the answers had been there in the mixing pot of the studio environment. You just had to have paying attention over the year. You had to notice the books that were casually left out, decide to look something up from a conversation you'd had. Follow the right leads, and pull the right threads. Sometimes, talking off topic to another student would unlock something that suddenly opened up your whole project in an unexpected way. It just worked.

I don't know if this is a recognised style of teaching, but it certainly worked for me. We had so many discussions about such a wide range of design topics that there were always bits of information in the air waiting to be plucked by the ones that needed them.

I feel like the final two years have been different though. I feel like the tutors now give me blank looks when I mention designers by name, unless they are part of the established 'old school'. There are certainly enough answers and information on campus, but it seems to be hidden in plain sight for those with eyes to see, and those with ears to hear; but I don't think it works in the same way as it did before. There have been several times where I have discussed projects with another student and ended up taking them to another part of the campus to show them an example of what they were working on, yet a number of tutors had talked to the same student and hadn't so much as suggested that they have a look around campus.

Maybe the groups are too big now? Sessions with three tutors result in contradictory advice and feedback. Advice that is followed is often criticised by the same tutor who gave it. Most of the students seem like they can't wait to leave when the session is over.

Design is such a huge topic, and I suppose that we can't all be expected to know everything that has come before, or everything that is going on now in the world of design. Maybe the point of this year is to go and find the answers. I feel that the best of the knowledge that I want to know is guarded by the technicians who appear to be overlooked, or seen as separate to the teaching staff. If you want to learn how to do, you have to ask the doers.

I hope that with my final project I am able to tap into the knowledge of the technicians and learn things that are not 'taught' at the University in the traditional sense. I hope to take some ideas to the next level by experimenting with techniques to achieve something that is unexpected, in the hopes that I'll learn something that I might want to teach in the future whether that be in a formal education setting, or as workshops.

TEACH 3D lettering with shadow
TEACH 3D lettering

Here is the initial digital design work for something that I hope to turn into either an example of sign painting, or reverse painted glass. I might even put up a how to guide that explains the steps after I have completed the piece.

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