I finally realised what I can achieve at university. I used to answer briefs by solving the problems, but the outcome was never exciting. I find tutor input restrictive. My negotiated practice gave me freedom. This time I'm the client and there is no brief. Time to start the crazy ideas machine and see what happens.
I hear complaints of "they don't teach you.... at University" all the time. In life you have to get from behind your computer and go and see what you can learn. To find answers, you must ask questions.
I broke away from scheduled sessions and tutors. I hung around in the areas with the Technicians and Technical Demonstrators. I began asking questions about machines and processes, it must have driven them to distraction at times. I started to ask "why do you do it like that?", "what if I did it this way?", "have we got something that can do this?". I learned by paying attention to what was going on around me that I was not directly involved in. I've seen experiments by fashion students with the laser cutter that went 'wrong' for what they required, but that could have excellent applications in graphic design.
I went off and took a signwriting course. I learnt how to apply gold leaf to glass. I cut wood, drilled holes, filled holes, sanded and painted (and that was just the degree show prep). I made a French cleat. I was on site, and stayed late as often as I could be. I talked design with other students. I arranged for James Lewis to come to Chester so I could talk to him. I travelled to Birmingham to attend a talk by Rob Draper so that I could talk to him afterwards. I interacted. I networked. I asked the tutors and technical staff who they are, what they do, and what inspires them. I have had students value my opinion and ask for it. I've done all these things, and more.
I pity those who say "They don't teach you... at University", we have had the opportunity to be taught the same, but I have learned more.
I helped to shape my future practice by nurturing my own curiosity. I understand the importance of non-digital design methods and things that have a tactile quality to them, incorporating skills and processes into my practice that set me apart from the digital design clique. I'm not afraid to approach those whose work I admire and ask them for advice or help. I have a 'go and see' approach to problem solving and learning. The user experience should go beyond what can be seen on a screen. The old book smell didn't come from designing digitally and you can't feel the paper quality of a digital magazine. Some things have to exist beyond pixels at some point in their lifetime. I hope to create designs that use a computer as one of many tools and not a full production method.