The best way to learn is to just jump in and try to do it.
One question that we have had since we started Kern and Burn is: Just how important is it for a designer to be educated in business and vice versa, how important is it for a business person to be educated in design? And, to take that further, is it important to be formally educated—i.e. do you really need to invest in a Masters degree to be successful in your field?
Getting a Masters degree is inarguably beneficial for a number of reasons. You get a chance to step back from your career and take a risk, a financial one of course, but also one that asks you to redefine yourself. You are given time to discover what you love to do, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and freedom to fail. There are also the practical benefits.
With graduate school comes a group of talented peers and faculty, both of which continually push you toward improvement. You connect with mentors daily and are exposed to a network of creatives, and all-around smart people, who are there for you to use in the best way possible—to learn from and hopefully teach some things to in return. Ultimately, you emerge (we hope) as a more well-rounded designer and person.
We’ve talked to many of our contributors about education and the benefit of training in disciplines outside of your own. Many would agree that to be a great designer you need, at the very least, to be conversant in business, web design, and development, and the same goes for other fields. If you’ve been formally educated, great. If not, no big deal. Learn the skills through practice, experience, and collaboration, and be willing to try things you don’t know how to do. Being a good designer is about being a good person. Who you are is as important as what you can do.
Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost of Studio Neat gave us some advice for designers who wanted to transition into product design. Dan’s quote pretty much sums it up:
“In terms of advice, this quote from Stanley Kubrick has always stuck with me: ‘Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all.’ I think this applies to everything. The best way to learn is to just jump in and try to do it.”
We decided to come to grad school. We decided to work together to make something to give to others, and inspire our peers. We’d love to hear how we’re doing. Let us know your thoughts on education and any of the other conversations we’ve presented so far. We want to continually excite, empower, and inform our readers. Say firstname.lastname@example.org.