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Breaking In: Week One

22nd September 2017 by Sam Cooke

Hello! This is the start of a new blog I’ll be writing every week for the near future, talking a little about my experience breaking into the design industry.

I’ve just started an internship at toucan design in Exeter (four days as of this post) and I’ve already learnt more about print, scale, space, administration, Mac OS, and Tassimo machines in this short time than in my entire 2-odd years working or studying as a creative. These are the things that university and small design jobs don’t teach you (except for Mac OS of course, but it’s only a matter of time until design students realise that Windows is cheaper, more powerful, and runs a larger amount of creative software…).

In my first few days at toucan I’ve been allowed to work on two hugely exciting projects; one of which, a large-scale exhibition for a local museum, is quite far away from the work I’m accustomed to. This has presented several technical and logistical challenges you’re unlikely to be faced with in a non-professional or -industry environment, though it’s only through these “trial by fire” experiences that you learn about very specific scenarios – whether it’s how extraordinarily far back your type can be read on a wall, or how badly your leading on a poster will translate into a three-metre-tall display panel. If you make a conscious effort to learn something new every day, you’ll add value to what you can offer individually and as part of a team. It could be a new piece of software, a typesetting trick or a faster way of mocking up a wall plan.

I heard a great quote yesterday on the same topic (and I’ll paraphrase): “Being a designer is all about adding value. Everybody with a computer has access to sophisticated design software and the capability to lay out text. Anybody can choose a nice font or colour but designers exist to think of and propose those small touches that people might not be able to do themselves.”

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