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I’m Jacob Cass, the founder of JUST™ Creative. I’m a multi-disciplinary graphic designer, working with clients all around the world. My specialty is logo & brand identity design. JUST™ Get in touch.

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6 Simple But Important Tips for Design Students

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Life as a graphic design student can be difficult, however you can get through your studies successfully, by putting the right strategies in place.

Here are a few simple, but important tips to keep in mind as a design student. These tips have been compiled by Christine Kane*, but for some of my own tips please see the ‘design for students‘ category section.

Design Student

1. Get Organized

One of the most important things that you can do in a graphic design program is to get organized. Use a calendar so you can use to stay on top of things. If you don’t use some kind of planner, you’re probably going to get behind, and end up missing assignments. Write down the due dates of every assignment that you are given so that you will know exactly how much time you have to complete them.

2. Set Your Priorities

It is vitally important for you to set some specific priorities while you are in school otherwise, it will be easy for you to get caught up in many things that have nothing to do with your goals. There’s nothing wrong with hanging out with your friends or partying, but make sure that you keep your studies up near the top of your priority list.

3. Over Estimate

In the area of graphic design, you have to estimate how long each project will take. As a general rule, try to overestimate how much time you think a job will take you to complete. If you get the job done faster than you estimated, you get some bonus time to do whatever you want. If not, you’ll at least have that time designated as work time. Over estimating goes for pricing work too.

Network

4. Network Like Crazy

While you are in graphic design school, this is a perfect opportunity to network with other people who could help you later on in life, especially after you graduate. The people that you go to school at will be out there working for design agencies or starting their own companies. Knowing the right people in your field will help you in advance at a much steadier rate.

5. Be Passionate & Enjoy Your Work

Many people in graphic design school stop loving what they do, and their work becomes almost mechanical. If you want to do good work, you need to enjoy yourself. Passion is a huge part of creativity, and creativity is at the heart of great design. Make sure you know why you are doing what you do.

6. Be & Stay Creative

As mentioned above, creativity is at the heart of great design. If you are not being creative, then you’re work will obviously reflect this. If you are having trouble coming up with  ideas, gather inspiration from the vast corners of the Internet or visit this post on how to be creative.

If you keep these tips in mind while you are in design school, it will make your studies much easier and not only that, you’ll have more fun, have a better chance of graduating with honors as the quality of your work and the joy you take in it will shine through, making your job search after graduation much easier.

Do you have any advice to share?

*This guest post is by Christine Kane, a graduate of Communication and Journalism. She enjoys writing about a wide-variety of subjects including internet service for different blogs. She can be reached via email at: Christi.Kane00ATgmail.com. Photos by Big Stock Photo.

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29 JUST™ Creative Comments

  • Prescott Perez-Fox Reply

    I would add one thing: DON’T DO FREELANCE WORK. This may seem counterintuitive because side projects can bring in extra money but trust me, you’re almost certainly giving the client bad work, incurring lots of stress, distracting yourself from schoolwork, and underestimating your financial value.

    Instead, concentrate on self initiated side projects. Get with your buddies and make something happen, even if no one is paying you. You have your entire careers to work with clients, don’t waste your school days trying to please them.

    • APNA JAHANIAN Reply

      thanks to share, all tips are great. I am already working on your guide line. but my question is still there that which software is best to design logo and how to be creative in work? please please reply me. \

    • Edher Reply

      I’m not sure about that, Jacob did some pretty neat work as a student… Being a freelancer can help you to add on to the experience you gain in college, i think.

    • Jacob Cass Reply

      I wouldn’t say I entirely agree with not doing freelance work. Maybe not in the first year, but I think having real world jobs in the second or third year of studies can actually help, even if it is just one or two alongside your studies.

      • Matthew Shields Reply

        I can definitely see the argument for both sides, having just graduated myself last month and having spent the last two years of my course ONLY doing freelance work I can say that it has pushed my self-teaching web design education much further then I believe a hypothetical basis would have because it made me strive to give the best I possibly could to the client (and personally I learn best under pressure and dealing with real world problems). However I also know that if I look back to the work I was doing at the start of first/second year that I think “was that really the best I could do?” and there are 50 million things that I would probably do differently in hindsight.

        I think it just depends on the individual, both designer and client. If that is how you think you’re going to improve in the best way possible and the client understands that its not going to be of the same quality as if a team of experienced designers had worked on it then I think its something to consider for sure.

        But hell i’m a newbie graduate maybe in a few years time I will have wished i’d done things differently but so far I feel it has helped me develop greatly.

    • JC Reply

      I think freelancing can be beneficial, just don’t sell yourself short, let yourself be held financially hostage or put in the extra hours without being reimbursed unless you can be sure it is worth it.

    • Polo Mattsson Reply

      This is absolutely true, do ‘real’ assignments, create a product, use your freedom while you still have it.

  • Mahroof Ali Reply

    “Passion is a huge part of creativity, and creativity is at the heart of great design”
    Great quote!

  • Tom McCracken Reply

    I couldn’t agree with you more on number 1!! Organization leads to simplification, or minimalism, which leads to a clear and creative mind. This is an awesome and important post!

  • Steph Floyd Reply

    Don’t procrastinate. Deadlines have a way of sneaking up on you quicker than you’d think!

    Take notes and pay attention. Your teachers know their stuff and can provide you with excellent tips during their lectures or when instructing tutorials. Also, taking notes on your projects will help you in remembering key components later when you dig into working on them.

  • Lupita Gulley Reply

    keep in mind as a design student. These tips have been compiled by Christine Kane*
    http://www.topaziolaw.com/

  • Design Academy Reply

    This is a very interesting article indeed. I am currently working in Marketing for a design academy and will soon be doing some teaching. It is interesting to see (from a teacher´s point of view) how a student may prepare themselves during classes. I am sure this can also give some insight to a teacher on how to better themselves in order to improve on the whole teaching experience

  • Frank Reply

    I would have to say that passion is by far in my eyes the most important aspect. Without passion or desire, their is no creativity and once you have the passion as you said creativity will come. Its so important to enjoy what you do, once that is there, then you are already on the right track and the other tips will follow!

  • Jeroen Reply

    Thank you for your post. This is helpfull for all students. However, there is a small problem which lies in the word ‘all’ used in the previous sentence. In my opinion the tips are too generic, as in, they can be used for any study.

    I was personally looking for tips closer to the actual essence of work done during a design study.

    I still think this could help people though, so good job!

  • Hannah Reply

    Good article! As a side note, the first thing I thought when I saw this in my feed was, “Oh hey sheltered college girl!”

    http://weknowmemes.com/2011/09/sheltered-college-freshman/

  • Natalie Reply

    From personal experience as a student and with the economy the way it is, I would say do an internship during your summer break or work in the industry part time while you study (I got my part time position from doing a 3 week internship). Not only will this look fantastic on your CV after you graduate and are launched into the tough and competitive world of design, but it will also be a great real-world setting to practice and refine the skills you have learned and also maybe pick up new things you might not have learnt on your graphic design course (yet), putting you ahead of your peers as you can then apply these new skills to your assignments at college/university.

  • Faith Towers Reply

    I think most of these tips are applicable to people who are finished with school also, and perhaps transitioning into a new job or starting a freelance career. Thanks for the great article!

  • Aubrey Reply

    I agree with Natalie — an internship can be key to landing a job or ending up unemployed in a tough economy. Real world experience is essential in competitive markets. Even a great designer often can’t get past the resume check without some experience on his/her CV.

    I’d also say that you should be prepared to do more production work to get your start in the field if the design jobs aren’t coming — showing you know pre-press, retouching, or code can help you land the job you want down the line and give you the needed edge in the design market.

  • saha Reply

    Awesome article. Passion and creativity is very important for design students. Thanks for the article.

  • Elizabeth Barnes Reply

    From personal experience I would say don’t procrastinate (AT ALL). Get your work done right after it is assigned instead of waiting until the day before its due. Keeping a calender and taking note of when tests are or projects are due is extremely important as well.

  • Sudy Reply

    Loved the phrase “creativity is at the heart of great design” – it is what makes a great graphic designer, whether a student or a professional. I love designing and I feel when you are passionate about it, no body can stop you from a masterpiece.

  • JANICE Reply

    I thought I’ve seen this photo before. It was on TAFE SA website Australia.

    :-)

  • Chidozie Reply

    Thanks for the tips to help a student like me. For the other students I do have one additional advice: Apply to the design agencies to gain some interview experience. You’ll know what executives, creative directors and art directors are looking for when they discuss the requirement. It sure help me to realize that I HAVE to learn HTML5, CSS, Javascript for web design (only the basics). And also, practice, practice, practice. Best wishes young designers and thanks again, Jacob.

  • Hilaria Mccaskill Reply

    Loved the phrase “creativity is at the heart of great design” – it is what makes a great graphic designer, whether a student or a professional. I love designing and I feel when you are passionate about it, no body can stop you from a masterpiece.

  • Melaine Shores Reply

    Thanks for the tips to help a student like me. For the other students I do have one additional advice: Apply to the design agencies to gain some interview experience. You’ll know what executives, creative directors and art directors are looking for when they discuss the requirement. It sure help me to realize that I HAVE to learn HTML5, CSS, Javascript for web design (only the basics). And also, practice, practice, practice. Best wishes young designers and thanks again, Jacob.

  • Clara Parry Reply

    Creativity is the heart of every design

    This is so true!! I used to try to learn designing from books but it never worked. I soon realized have to think and do things myself. Keep up the good work!


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