Frilly Lizards’ Thoughts

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Inspiration & Feedback on Art & Design. Please participate, share your views on any works of art or design; the artists and designers work you admire that give you inspiration in which ever form or discipline. Thanks you for taking time to read this. I’m interested to hear everyone’s opinion please share yours.

7 ways to be a Graphic Design student online

I found this on Noisy Decent Graphics, it’s an interesting read but I personally don’t agree with the post for several reasons. I will expand on my views at the end of the post, the source of the information is something that I am encouraged to look at and I do find some really fabulous hints and information on this blog but in this case I’m not sure I agree with Ben.

The Internet Does Not Work

Speak to any graphic design tutor and there’s lots of talk about how students are blogging and flickring and twittering. One small problem. It’s not true.
Which is a shame for many reasons. Not least that your professional life is going to involve you having to understand all of this stuff. And the best way to understand something is to do it.
And as Sian (Graphic Design, University of Wales) put it the other day, “I think that it is important for graphic design students… to enter the world of blogging… It’s great to see what other students and other designers are looking at. It’s all part of the learning process.”
And not only that, it’s so easy. Easy, and most of this stuff lends itself to a graphic design course. Think of it as some cheap module scores. For example, imagine you’re writing an essay about the Rosetta stone (you’re all doing that right?). You’d probably start by Googling it. Every decent result you’ve found, add it to delicious. Even if you did nothing else on that essay you’ll very quickly have a small collection of useful stuff.
Imagine if you wrote a sentence about each of those results. Stuck that on a Tumblr blog. Before long, the essay has written itself. See what I mean? It’s a gift.
So to help a little bit, I thought I’d write a small guide to being a graphic design student online. It’s not definitive and it obviously focuses on services I’m familiar with. But hopefully it makes sense. So, in a very particular order.

1. Flickr

If you do nothing else, you must set up a Flickr account. There can be no excuse. If you were on my course, I’d fail you for not having a Flickr account.
Flickr is the most graphic designery of all the social networky stuff. (It’s a whole website of images for fucks sake!)
Put your photographs up there. All those photos of signs you take. All the blurry experiments with colour and light. Get them up there. When I has at college we used to have to keep a photo log book, where we’d have to jot down every exposure and setting for each picture we took. Digital cameras do this for you, it’s called exif data. So, upload your pictures to Flickr and there’s another job done.
Images are such a major part of a graphic design course and everyone now has the ability to take and make images quickly. (You’ve all got camera phones, I’ve seen them.)
But more than that. When you’re working on a project upload every stage to Flickr. Let others, from around the world, comment on your ideas. Build on them. When you have to hand in your workings, point the lecturers to Flickr.
Stick your best work up there, organise your work into sets and you can use it as an online portfolio when you go for a job. a million times better than a 10mb PDF.
And it’s free.
(There are other sites available. You could also use Deviant Art or Picasa.)

2. Blogging

To blog or not to blog? I can’t really answer that. You need to make that decision on your own. The one thing I can say, is that you need to give it a go.
If Flickr is about pictures, then blogging is about words. Graphic Design courses involve a lot of words too. You could stick your whole dissertation up there. A little bit at a time. You could just post random notes and thoughts. Quotes you find. You could document projects you’re working on, like Katie (Graphic Design, LCC) and Tom (Graphic Design, UWIC) do.
You could use it as a project diary. Once again, do a little, often and the project will finish itself.
Try to avoid Blogger. I use and recommend Typepad, but I understand that WordPress is easier to customise and has nicer templates.

3. Tumblr

Tumblr is like blogging but easier. If you’re not great with words, then Tumblr is for you. It’s a sort of micro blogging service and lends itself to lots, quickly. I don’t really like it, but it’s a great way to start blogging. And yes, it’s free.

4. Twitter

Twitter is like a micro version of micro blogging. A way to publish snippets of text that are no more than 144 characters long. So try that if you’re even less of a word person than the Tumblr people. Twitter is very hard to describe, probably the easiest way is to say it’s like the status updates on Facebook. It’s also a really simple way of outputting text and linking the physical and the digital. Take a look at the Tower Bridge twitter stream and the Albion Bakery Fresh Buns alert twitter stream. Seriously.

5. Facebook

You’re all on Facebook, right? Good. Let’s see how you could use that for college and not just just pictures of debauched nights.

Kate Andrews (Queen of Networking) sets up and joins lots of interesting groups of Facebook. For example the Kept group, the Design Observer group and the 2gether09 group. You can join them. You can interact with people. You can meet other students and designers. You can become part of a community.
This kind of stuff may seem frivolous but it will be invaluable when you’re looking for a job, or even just popping down to London for the D&AD student awards. And then you can upload all your pictures of that debauched night.

6. Delicious

I’ve already mentioned this above. Delicious is the ultimate Dissertation Building Tool. It’s like essay writing for procrastinators. The first thing I do if I’m asked my view on a particular theme, like say tangible digital is look at my relevant delicious tags and instantly I’ve got lots clever stuff to say and reference. Your dissertation will write itself. Or your money back.

7. RSS Reader

Blogs. You need to read them. Everyone has a blog now. Even Michael C Place has a blog. These day you can follow your design heroes almost daily. That’s a wonderful thing for those of us who had to make do with yearly Graphis updates when we were at college.
But following all these blogs is hard. The posts come think and fast. The bookmarks folder gets full up. That’s why you need an RSS Reader. All blogs have an RSS feed. An RSS Reader graps the feed and chucks your blogs into one reader, one website basically. 

RSS Readers are not scary. They are good. They are to be embraced. I use bloglines but you can use Google’s of NetNewsWire or one of the hundreds of others.
And so there you go. You have no excuse now.
Oh and let’s not forget Ffffound, inspiration on tap.

So where to start;

Flickr: I have no problems with Flickr I think it is a great way to promote yourself but I do feel that you have to bear in mind that potential employers will check this out (I would) and as such you have to decide very carefully about what is placed on your space, it is after all an extension of your on-line portfolio. I know this sounds like grass level common sense but you would be surprised, I’ve seen some amazing work posted on the site but when I’ve investigated further into the persons other work it has given me a slightly different insight.

Blogging: I have a blog so I suppose I have to be a little careful here (I have to have a blog for uni.). At first I really despised the idea of having to conduct this operation but I have found certain aspects really helpful and useful. I’ve had many conversations regarding conducting my PDP online in the form of a blog. The problem I’ve had with this method of reflection is I truly believe that when I design and the process of communicating visually has to be from the heart to connect with people. The difficulty I feel I encounter is critically reflecting on this process and being completely honest and not editing the thought process for publishing, which I feel defeats the whole purpose of the exercise. I want people to comment and be truthful about my designs but I want this to be the end design. I just feel that asking me to expose my thoughts and experiments leaves me venerable and uncomfortable and a true representation is not actually achieved. So I made a decision to conduct my blog more of a resource for collating various methods I utilize on a weekly basis, these include:

  • Links to design blogs.
  • RSS feeds from design sources I check on a regular basis.
  • RSS feeds from design recruitment agencies to keep an eye on the opportunities available on a daily basis.
  • Links to galleries and exhibitions, which I visit – keeping up to date to any exhibits that may interest me.
  • Interesting articles I have seen.

So with this in mind I suppose this a little bit of a contradiction and I may sound like a hypocrite, but surely everything that is published is edited.

Tumblr & Twitter: Now this to me is slightly daft, keep a blog fine, but there is a small proportion of me that believes we should be living life and experiencing it, not updating micro blogs to let people know that were going to buy a pint of milk, watching tv…….. I’m sorry but to me, this is pointless.

Facebook/Myspace…Social Networking sites: I’ve always steered clear of these and people who know me know how I feel about them. The only possible advantage of these are to keep in touch with people who you don’t see very often, but as with Flickr I do feel that you have to bear in mind that potential employers will check this out and they do not want to see you and your mates night of ………… keep it monitored. They can also access your friends and check out your social network (privacy issues?) Do you want your employer and all your contacts to know every aspect of your life? I have nothing to hide but I’m not sure I want every aspect on the internet. Again monitor what’s being posted.

Delicious: Bookmarks fantastic, but again do I want to share these by publishing them on a blog.

RSS Readers & RSS Feeds: I have no problem at all with these they are extremely helpful and I think they are great I agree completely.

Ffffound is a fantastic source of information and inspiration I agree, but does anyone think that we are all in danger of getting a too reliant on checking design blogs daily and all looking at the same information, or am I just going off on a bizarre tangent and rant. Please reply to this post as for or against this debate could raise some interesting points, thank you.

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