Can we teach you design?

18 February 2014

Can we teach you design?

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Both in private and at JumpStart, people often ask me whether we can teach them to design... In most cases, these people are referring just to teaching graphics software skills, sometimes without fully understanding what it means to learn design. It’s very rare that people know exactly what they want to learn. Either way, I often find it difficult to give a short and precise answer without getting involved in a long and complex conversation.

For this reason, I would like to use this post to call attention to the distinction between two things: taste/vision of design and graphic software skills. In other words, the first is a design formed in the human’s mind, and the second is what a designer makes technically using the graphics softwares. These skills are not difficult to acquire. For instance, anyone can take a course in graphics software and learn how to draw a button, or make something more complex and difficult. Many people believe that after getting these skills they have enough knowledge to begin to design. This point of view is wrong. Software is needed to realize your vision, but if there is no idea, then there is nothing to realize. As for the idea itself, this can be relatively complicated, as much more is needed to create a valuable design. Of course, there are a lot of theories regarding how to match colours, how to create layout, general practical tips etc.

Anyone can get this practical advice, but then they face the most important issue: how to properly and thoroughly use this knowledge in practice. That's where a designer's taste and vision becomes a necessity.

Generally, I do not agree that taste and vision can be naturally granted to anyone, so I do not want to conclude that there are people who are born- to-be-designers :))

So I would like to specify my approach to this particular topic: in my opinion, ultimately, a good designer needs to have good taste, and taste can absolutely be formed and polished.

To sum things up, it is not enough to learn graphic software and get acquainted with practical advice in order to become a designer, although this is also necessary. In addition to these skills, it is necessary to observe popular trends in the field, browse through various design blogs and magazines, give feedback to other designers and constantly try to develop your eye for design.The result of this work will be the formation of a vision and taste, because there is no existing recipe for how to create “good design”.