It feels a lot longer than a few weeks since I last posted. Although the pace of life here seems to be much slower, the level of work we are making our way through on the course has meant time seems to slide out of focus. After enjoying learning some of the basics, we’re now being challenged to put things we’ve learnt into practice. For a full-time course, we have a surprising amount of homework; I am quickly learning that design is likely to be one of the careers that you can’t simply leave in the office/studio at the end of the day. Once you’ve been set a brief or have been struggling with a layout, there is no off-switch. I’ve taken to carrying around a small notebook as it seems to majority of epiphanies are found mid-cycle on my way home. The constant flux of frustration at the lack of ideas and the thrill of finding a clever insight is unavoidable. I have gone through days of feeling like I’m not cut out for this world and others where I feel almost proud. It seems pride in your work is feature less commonly found in the design world. Despite all producing some truly spectacular work after such little training, my classmates seem to experience the same and we are all our own harshest critics.
On a similar vein, along with practical and presentation skills, the course is teaching me how to fail; potentially the most invaluable experience to be gained before being released into the professional world. Innate competitiveness with myself and other people means if I don’t think my work is up to standard, I am incredibly unhappy. I have to remind myself that we are technically still learning and that sometimes that ‘good idea’ won’t materialise and what we produce will have to suffice due to a deadline. It’s a case of putting it down and moving onto the next project. As though it was serendipity, I stumbled across the quote by Thomas Edison when he was developing the lightbulb – I may not quite rack up the same volume, but it’s an ethos I’m attempting to adopt:
‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’
I still do my best brainstorming during class with my headphones in and Spotify blaring – an emotive song seems to do wonders for my neurones. However, I am finding myself enjoying silence during my morning cycle next to the river, walking around town and generally spending time outside. A world away from British mornings and evenings in the UK where headphones would be in before I even left the house. Bizarrely it seems to be that the majority of the Londoners seem keen to shut the world out, despite being a city rife with a plethora of different people and experiences. It reminded me of another quote I read recently by Sir John Hegarty:
‘I get really, really pissed off when I see my creative people coming in with headphones in… and they put a little wall round themselves… But if you walk around cutting yourself off you are eliminating influence, you are eliminating the possibility that you are going to pick up stories, ideas, thoughts that are happening all around you and as a creative person that is completely wrong.’
I assume it’s likely coupled with the endorphins from cycling, but I find myself arriving to town with a fresh mind and clear head after a silent journey. If you’re the type of person who is never without headphones, try taking them out, just for a small portion of time next time you’re outside – we’re missing the world go by.