Design Education: 3 years or 3 months?

Design Education 3 years or 3 months

We recently went to Shillington Design College’s graduation show and saw a very impressive set of folios, some of which were created by students that had completed their 3 month intensive course design, with others on the 1 year part-time evening course. The college specialises in taking design novices from a broad range of experiences and professions, from pilots to pumpkin farmers, and teaches them key design principles and the requisite technical skills to execute them. Having seen the creative product, and taking into account today’s course and living fees, it begs the question why would you pay for a course spread over 3 years?

Alex – Creative Designer

As a graduate of Shillington Design College I’ve had a first hand experience of a design education in the short space of 3 months. I graduated with the technical skills and knowledge needed to land my first paid job, something I’d been chasing for the best part of a year. Shillington gave me the opportunity to learn design and typography principles that I can take forward into industry and continue to learn and build upon.
Of course, in such a short amount of time, you don’t get the luxury of spending weeks building upon an idea as you might do whilst studying a degree. It seems to be this, which people find so controversial. Although it is extremely important to have strong conceptual ideas, it’s not realistic to think you will get that amount of time to create something brilliant once you’re in a job. So if you’re talking in terms of being industry ready, getting used to delivering excellent work with short deadlines, it’s a massive advantage.
Designers are, when all is said and done, visual problem solvers. So to not be open minded to a new and effective way of teaching and problem solving seems a contradiction to the job title. Whether it be 3 years or 3 months, appreciating excellent work regardless of the structure it was created in seems not only progressive but also common sense.

Yasmin – Creative Designer

Having studied for 3 years and then going on to take a 1 year, part time course at Shillington, I’ve realised that it mostly comes down to the individual’s preference for methods of knowledge absorption. When it comes to learning facts or technical based skills such as computer programmes I lack discipline, but I need no push to explore my own creative expression. The 3 year course allowed me to take the time to develop my creative thinking, but lacked in giving me the technical skills to express my findings. The short course filled in this gap by providing a structured frame where I could learn how to use the tools available in a disciplined manner.

The most important thing is to choose what’s right for you and to take the time to explore all the options.

Miles – Creative Copywriter

I spent 3 years studying at university, and at most I was in lectures 2 or 3 days out of the week. That left plenty of time for me to learn, and then totally forget everything I had spent hours learning. I didn’t realise this was an issue though, until I got out of university and stepped into the real world. I quickly noticed that the 3 years I had spent at university could’ve been condensed into a matter of months, or even a year, thus leaving plenty of time to learn even more. I personally learn better when I’m immersed in something, and can focus properly on it.

Everybody learns differently, and therein lies the problem. The inherent flaw in the university structure is that it assumes we all benefit from a particular style of teaching, or a set structure. Maybe I don’t? Maybe I want to learn as much as possible for 6 months and then have a degree or qualification? I’ve been lucky enough to work with four graduates from Shillington. When I first heard their course was 3 months long, my eyes lit up. I saw the work they had produced, and I remembered the little amount of time they had done it in, and thought this could be the course for me. I’m still considering whether or not to apply, but it’s encouraging to know that I don’t need to spend 40k to learn and waste 3 years of my life, or know that I could pay 9k for 3 months. Is it right for everybody? No. However, solely knowing the option is there is enough to maintain my faith in education.

Scott Leonard – Creative Director

I spent 3 years studying Design Communication, and alongside managed to squeeze in being the Art Editor of the Big Issue (South West) and two D&AD advertising courses. Clearly, the course wasn’t creatively fulfilling enough. I think this highlights the difference between design education and creative education, as one employs technical skills while the other is more about conceptual thinking.

I’m a firm believer that you can’t teach creativity in the traditional sense, it’s something you’re either passionate about or not. Graphic designers and creatives are problem solvers by nature, and with every challenge faced you either accept the logical answer or push to discover other ways of answering the conundrum.

My first design commission may have been 24 years ago, but my creative education is far from complete. I’d be really worried if I felt as though it was, for I’d be closer to accepting the logical answer rather than pushing boundaries. After 3,000 hours of practice you should be good at anything, thus design education could take 3 months or 3 years. As for creativity though, I hope I never truly master it, for when that day comes I should probably consider leaving the industry and contemplate a more binary career.