A Design Article for Students: Education. Passion. Travel.

I was asked to write a design article for students. I had to answer specific questions which could help motivate and encourage students to become the graphic designers and people they want to be one day.

This was a great exercise for me because it really helped me reflect upon my own design journey. I also realized a lot of the things I wrote I need to listen to as well!

Here is the article I submitted:

In my personal experience, I have come to realize that education, passion, and travel are three vital components that helped shape my design journey and made me the graphic designer I am today.

View life as a continuous learning experience.
– Denis Waitley

My personal calling for graphic design started in 8th grade and I embraced every opportunity that my education had to offer. I went to Northeastern University in Boston, MA and I wouldn’t change anything. Northeastern has a specialized five year co-op program. Every six months, I alternated between classes and “real world” paid internships. My co-op experience was one of the most beneficial parts of my education. I took advantage of studying abroad in Florence, Italy for a semester and traveled to new places and met some of my closest friends. I also collaborated with knowledgeable professors and peers on multiple projects.

During University, I quickly learned about the difference between graphic design and fine art. Great design is less about decoration and more about communication, but excellent fine art skills are imperative for a designer.

As a design professional, I continue to love learning. I seek out design conferences, groups, meetups, and intelligent colleagues so I can gain more design insights. I have realized that there will always be someone better than me and that gives me the drive to make myself a better designer.

Your education is your chance to participate in new and unique experiences that will develop your artistry and set you apart from the next person. Take advantage of every opportunity to increase your capabilities.

“Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Thurman

Your life, not just graphic design will lead you in many directions. Figure out what path you want to follow and embrace it. If you are not passionate about what you do every day, then why do it?

Every day try I try to do something mildly uncomfortable and challenging so I can grow into what I want to become. Four years ago, I took a risk to quit my full time design job. Thanks to the support of family, friends and past co-workers, I succeeded in starting two new businesses. Now, I make a living as an independent design consultant, JBird Creations. And, I have my passion project: BirdSwell, surf inspired wearable art dedicated to the surfing lifestyle. I haven’t looked back and I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone. Now, instead of the nightmare of sitting in an office cubicle every day, I dream about new designs! I even wake up in the middle of night, excitedly jump out of bed, and draw out new ideas.

Don’t get me wrong, there are days of self-doubt, struggles and even failures. I try not to dwell in these moments but figure out how to deal with it, learn from it and move on. When my creative channels are closed, I step away from the task. I free myself by going for a walk, surfing, doing yoga, or meditating. Once my mind is uncluttered and thinking clearly, I can come back and tackle the problem.

Take risks that you are proud of and don’t let other people define your style. Never second guess where you have been, who you are, or where you are going. Just because you have chosen a different path doesn’t mean you are going in the wrong direction. Create a support system that allows you to be your best and surround yourself with people that want you to succeed.

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
– Henry Miller

School will prepare you to go out into the world, but the world will teach you things that can not be taught in an institution. Traveling is a unique teacher that will test you in unexpected ways.

When I was seventeen, I traveled internationally by myself for the first time to Italy. I was chosen to play basketball with people I had never met before through a program called: People to People. I was terrified, but excited to gain independence from what I had always known. This trip was one of the most amazing adventures of my life and the first of many travels. I continue to be enlightened by my travels and incorporate these inspirations into my design work.

Cultivate yourself and be a citizen of the world. Go to unusual places and observe how other people live their lives. You will be surprised by how much you will discover about others and yourself. You will find inspiration that every day life won’t offer.

Be Knowledgable. Be Eager. Be Inspired. Seize every opportunity and be tenacious. Let the embers of your interests grow into a raging fire!

  • Asma says:

    Great article, J-Bird! It's so nice to be able to learn more about your journey to become the amazing graphic designer you are today!!

  • J-Bird says:

    Thanks Asma!

    I am still learning and hope to continue improving as a graphic designer. Thanks for your support and encouragement!

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