More Advice For Design Students

A bit more philosophical than my previous list, but hopefully more pithy, and not in any particular order:

  • Do not fear the blank sheet of paper or the empty document window in front of you. Think of them as the start of a great adventure.
  • Let the work of others inspire you, but don’t copy.
  • Along those lines, don’t try to be cool. Instead, put in the effort required to be good.
  • Style is not substance. Don’t confuse the two.
  • When starting a design project, first, define your terms. You can’t communicate something if your idea of it is vague.
  • When struggling, change your environment. Get off the computer and get out pencil, pens, paint, paper, glue and go at it from a different direction.
  • Every project you take on is an opportunity to learn. Accept the challenge. Nothing is too difficult to accomplish.
  • We cannot design out of nothing. We always begin with something in mind. It may not be the right thing, but it’s always a start.
  • Design is a service. It helps people, businesses and organizations prosper.
  • Develop a point of view. You are unique. Don’t be ordinary. Be extraordinarily you. You bring things to the table that no one else does.
  • You’ll get different points of view from different teachers. This input helps you develop your own.
  • Read and write. Read fiction and non-fiction. Read blogs, magazines and books. Write about what you read and about what you design.
  • Graphic design is words and images combined for a specific purpose. Design is a medium, not a message.
  • No one can motivate you but you. You can be mediocre or excellent. It’s your choice.
  • Design is work. It produces things. It’s both a process and a result.
  • The real value of design is the thinking that goes into it.
  • Know the difference between copyright and Creative Commons.

Alvalyn Lundgren

Alvalyn Lundgren is the founder and principal of Alvalyn Creative, an independent consultancy providing brand strategy design and bespoke illustration for more than 30 years. She is the creator of Freelance Road Trip — a business school and podcast for creative freelancers. She teaches design and design practice on the college level with design schools and programs.