A design education that leaves a lot to be desired

I’m still reeling from a conversation I overheard in London’s Royal Festival Hall last night and have to vent.

I was wrestling with a concept when, from the table behind me, I heard two young girls talking. I heard ‘I spoke to the printer’, and my ears pricked up. They were putting together some kind of exhibition brochure or flyer and one was relating the results of the meeting to the other. Little nuggets like, ‘We’ll do this in the three-process colours’, ‘What size does type start to get, you know, a bit fuzzy?’, and ‘Won’t we have all those dot things to worry about if we do the type in process colours?’

I assumed these were first-year or even foundation students trying their hand at a ‘live’ job, but when one asked the other if she had her results yet I sprayed my Chardonnay all over my sketchbook when I heard, ‘Yes, I got a first.’ ‘A first class BA in graphic design.’

They were joined by their ‘clients’ and, from then on, the comedy came thick and fast. When asked about type, the first girl said she was

using Helvetica because it looked good with the serif. When the client asked what the difference was, she said, ‘Erm, they’re just different.’ On copy-fitting, they talked about ‘doing some words and then we can count them out’.

Their ignorance of even the basics was terrifying.

I’ve been in the business for 27 years and lecturing for almost 20 and I’ve never come across such ignorance. I don’t know which college she went to, but I wish I’d asked so I could name and shame. The teaching staff and external assessors on that course should be shot.

Sue Turner, by e-mail

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