It’s okay to make mistakes. Even monumental ones. Sometimes you don’t read the directions properly or you just plain do an assignment wrong (try to avoid this on the magazine assignment, since there’s no re-do), but with each mistake I made, I learned something new about the programs we used or about good design. Through making these mistakes, you can end up with a better project than you had before, which is why the re-dos are so important and you should really take full advantage of them to fix your mistakes.
Start projects early. There have been so many times where I didn’t start a project until a few days before, and it didn’t give me enough time to create and re-create as designers should. In my personal experience, your first design is almost never your best. If you don’t give yourself enough time to draft, and design, and fix your mistakes, you’ll end up handing something sub-par in. The more I was able to redo an assignment, the better the final piece ended up. In addition, it’s never a good idea to start the project the night before (not even the résumé, which may seem simple enough). Not only do they kick you out of the labs at a certain time, but your mind won’t be as clear and you’ll just be rushing to get it done. Your mind needs to process what you’ve done and a lot of times you’ll wake up in the morning and realize 10 mistakes you need to fix when you take another look at it.
Go to office hours as much as you can. Professor Strong is not only helpful and understanding, but she really knows what she’s talking about. It might be hard having constructive criticism on the project you spent 50+ hours working on, but it’s really good practice for the real world and you’ll realize quickly how helpful all of her advice will be. So many times my mind had just been stuck in one place, like “designer’s block” and she was able to point out what needed to be fixed and give suggestions that were truly so helpful. Don’t forget to sign up early as well! Slots fill up quickly!
Use the free trial of the adobe programs, and the student discount if you are willing to purchase it. The free trial is great for one of the bigger project that you have that you need to spend more time on. Choose the project you want to use it for strategically, or you could purchase the adobe programs for a year with the student discounts. It’s so much easier to be able to open your laptop and work on it from your bed then to have to trek out in awful weather to the Newhouse labs. Having the programs on your computer also helps make it easier to start the project earlier and sporadically work on it throughout the day whenever you have a minute of time. In addition, you don’t have to wait for the labs to open to work on a project. You can work on it at 1 am or 6 am without a problem.
Get out of your comfort zone. One of my biggest problems with many of my designs was that I always wanted to play it safe. The problem is, safe is boring and your grade will reflect that. Even if you don’t consider yourself creative, or good at design really try to create designs outside of the box. Even just attempting to create things that seems outlandish will help inspire you and bring you to a better design. You might not necessarily end up submitting your most out-of-the-box ideas, but if you don’t try you won’t be able to expand your way of thinking about design. Get inspired by looking up professional work online and see what you can do to make designs just as good as the professionals. It’s not as hard as you think, especially as you improve throughout the course and master indesign, illustrator and photoshop.