Sometimes reflecting on your educational experiences once they are over allows you to view them with a sympathetic outlook you wouldn’t have had otherwise. For example, while I was in school, tacked on for two or three days at the end of the semester in second year we were given a quick crash course in InDesign. As a three year program with a specific focus on packaging design, it just wasn’t a priority. The end product was to make a booklet, which I did as a guide to knowing your monsters, and all said and done I loved it, made a nice glossy little piece of work and got a great mark.
I felt pretty solid about this until over a year later, when I had my second substantial InDesign experience in the form of a 100 plus page catalogue. Without realizing it, I was about to be plummeted into a world of InDesign head first. I soon found myself cursing my instructors for everything they didn’t teach me. It was all their fault every time I couldn’t get something to do exactly what I wanted, because I felt that the tools were there, just hidden slightly out of reach. Like a petulant child, I thought how *totaaallly unfaiiiir* it was that no one had told me these things and had as a result condemned me to sleeping in the office, toiling night and day, and taking the hard way for so many things.
With a little more distance between myself and the catalogue now, I’ve gained a different perspective on things. We, as designers, love these programs because of the seemingly never ending plethora of things they can do for us. We curse their shortcomings, not out of ungratefulness or being spoiled, but because ease of use and increased efficiency are our bread and butter and by complaining, improvements can be made. And sometimes, when you’re just freshly out of school and tackling something so intimidating, it’s easy to forget that these programs are so dense in their abilities that we have to take the initiative and time to get to know them so that we are comfortable with them. 6 semesters is a short time to learn anything, and a 3 year course in the Adobe Suite alone would still probably leave many subjects untouched and many tricks and shortcuts undiscovered. Thank goodness the swell folks at Adobe made some easy to use, useful tutorials for anything I may have missed in the meantime.
My dad said to me at the start of my internship “You don’t know what you don’t know yet.” A classic dad-ism maybe for it’s seemingly circular logic and had I been a 15 year old punk still I probably would have rolled my eyes and said something bratty. But I’ve found this true and a calming motto when I’m in the midst of something new since then. You learn by doing, and until you try you have the luxury of being comfortable in your ignorance.
By far, the best part of my experience at Derooted has also been the scariest parts.
And by that, I mean the haunted elevators.
Kidding. The stairs are haunted, not the elevators.
But seriously, I mean that the times when I’ve been made to work out of my comfort zone or at things that aren’t necessarily my specialty in design are the times when I’ve learned the most, even when I’ve been frustrated. By this measure, working with InDesign on such a huge project was one of the most horrible, rewarding experiences I’ve had in a really long time.
And like all horrible, rewarding experiences, I’m so glad it’s over and more prepared should it happen again.