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Maybe I’m Just “Old School”

Back in March, I took time to relax and reboot. The idea was to give my brain a creative break from the hustle and bustle of the Graphic Design world. I flew to Vegas – the eye candy capitol of the U.S. – in my opinion. First night there, while at the vanity in the bathroom “fluffing” myself for a night on the town, a TV commercial from a Nevada university proclaims from the living room, “GET YOUR GRAPHIC DESIGN DEGREE – NO DRAWING SKILLS REQUIRED – IN JUST 32 MONTHS!”  With curling iron in hand, I stopped dead in mid-curl and cried, “honey, turn that up. I have to hear this!” I was not surprised by my reaction that followed. “Wow! Really?! Is that the going rate these days? And no drawing skills required, huh? What a joke.”

Needless to say, I’m of the opinion that this new approach to earning a Graphic Design degree program is a far cry from my university’s philosophy where I was admitted into their program based on portfolio and scholarship alone.

I know there is really no need to dwell but I just haven’t been able to let this one go. You see, not only do I object to the message of this commercial but other colleagues/friends of mine in the field of Graphic Design would gladly take their place in line behind me on the idea that this NV university, as well as others (who seem to be joining the bandwagon), are delivering the WRONG impression regarding a career in Graphic Design.

To be fair, I should ask “are drawing skills fundamental to a Graphic Design degree?” Answer: No. BUT, after doing a fair amount of digging into this subject through various blogs and forums I see that there are others who strongly agree that it’s NOT a great idea to enter the Graphic Design world with no raw talent to assist you. Be it drawing, 3D design or painting, a designer needs to have the skills. They can do without it but why would they want to? It would make them more desirable by employers while opening other windows of opportunity into areas such as Illustration, Interior Design, Photography, 3D Animation – the list could go on and on. The best benefit would be that a graphic designer would not be chained to a computer and be solely dependent on the device to produce their work. Even the bare necessity of creating thumbnail sketches to depict a layout concept to a Creative Director requires some sort of pencil-to-paper ability.

With all that said, here is why I dwell. Are we teaching future graphic designers that raw talent can simply be taught, or that fine artists who pursue graphic design careers and possess an unimaginable raw talent that they are no longer a commodity within the field? It’s open for debate. Maybe this NV university merely wanted their quota of student enrollment to increase for their Graphic Design program, but after 32 months and no raw talent required, what type of designers will have been produced? I know I am concerned. Therefore, possibly it is safe to wonder if other marketing institutions would be equally concerned.

Author Adrianne Fillinger Graphic Designer

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Brad says:

    This trend is common in other fields as well. Foss Training or ITT Tech advertising great careers in IT in the same amount of time or less.

    These are just For-Profit “education” institutions getting as many clients as possible.

    In the IT field they are called “Paper Techs”. They have the certification because they passed the exam but have no experience or skills to back it up.

    I think the real issue is that it devalues those of us that have degrees and experience in the eyes of our clients that don’t know the difference.

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