Recently, I had the honor of speaking to Steven Inlander's Accelerated Graphic Arts II class at Council Rock High School North. Prior to my presentation, my son, who is in the class, instructed me to bring food. "They're not interested in what you do. Bring food. Tacos." I'm in the habit of presenting to college sophomores, who, over the years, have become more and more interested in the business of design. They ask how to get a job or how to find clients or how much to charge. I wasn't looking forward to standing up in front of students who simply didn't want me there, so I came prepared with my presentation and fifty assorted Dunkin' Munchkins.
I always try to show process. A logo I recently designed for a client—it involves a coffee shop—is one of the projects I've worked into my presentation. I show slide after slide of ideas—primarily in black-and-white. The incremental changes and final resolution and application to mugs, coffee sleeves, signage, and website are meant to be eye-opening with their iterations and subtle additions.
My son’s instructor is a former Spanish teacher whom they affectionately call Don. As Don confirmed, most students sit down at their computers and lock into a design, never budging from that concept once it's born. Instructors have trouble getting students to sketch. The perfection of an Adobe Illustrator layout causes many designers, especially young ones, to become attached to work too early in the process.
The Dunkin' Munchkins vanished by the end of class. Two or three students, including my son, started squirming. Finally, I showed them a short, high-speed video of a chalkboard artist at work and someone asked if her art was permanent or erasable. This showed me that Don's students were not just listening—they were thinking about process.
They asked important questions. Which logo did the client choose? Do you use a Mac or a PC? And they were able to point out refinements from my original to finished logo.
I'm hoping the next time they sit down to design, they'll create a few sketches and try three options, or they'll play with the typography a little longer. I'd like to think so. Or maybe they just wanted food.