It might not seem like it, but you’re a member of a very elite club. You, and other designers, stand apart from the rest of society – unlike most other people, you can understand coding and design without your brain popping like a malfunctioning desktop.
You’ve probably met those people who have the same eye for design as a blind man has for cross stitching. They’ll scratch their heads at InDesign, furrow their brows at Microsoft Publisher and whine like a senile cat at PowerPoint. Their brains aren’t wired like yours. Where they see a confused screed of numbers and icons, you see raw tools that can be made to sculpt almost anything.
This dab hand for design didn’t come from nowhere. To find your voice and learn the foundational elements of your job, you had to study hard – and you spent more time making mistakes than you’d like to admit.
The importance of education
Nurture, not nature, is the bread and butter of a fledgling designer. Without great tutors and rigorous practice, you’d barely be able to switch on a graphics tablet without accidentally breaking your computer.
New designers, however, don’t have the same opportunities as they once did – or, at the very least, the media portrays it that way.
Tuition fees are skyrocketing, hitting a peak of £9,000 at most universities, and the arts and humanities are some of the most widely affected subjects. As austerity bites, high-quality design courses are being thrown out the window.
But as with any failing industry, alternatives are swooping in to fill the niche. If you’re a designer struggling to budget for a university education, there are other ways to earn your spurs.
An online degree from a reputable provider can be perfect for the budding designer on a shoestring budget. Indeed, distance learning has become the go-to option for certain professions, and is even more widely used by postgraduates with a fulltime job.
It wasn’t ever thus. Back in the days when computers were about as useful as an umbrella made from paper, distance learning was completely inefficient. You’d have to communicate with your tutors by mail, scour the library for course materials (and, most of the time, they weren’t even there) and spend most of your time feeling lonely and isolated, leaving you too emotionally fragile to study properly.
Now, the situation has changed and some people turn to distance learning as a viable alternative to sky-high tuition fees.
Designers are going to have to find new ways to educate themselves in their vocation – so why not give distance learning a try?