Pursuing aesthetics is one of the human instincts that cannot be denied in our life. In terms of retaining aesthetics, designing is a way to express a human instinct, but it contains additional meanings. Design creates relatively new goods compared with existing things, it evokes positive feelings dealing with happiness and satisfaction, and it visually communicates the intended message to an audience. These aspects of design are always attractive to me, and I have taken solid confidence in living as a designer. Without design, we are still able to live, but with design, our life can be shining and polished. It is about upgrading the quality of life. Contributing to human life by visual expression is the intent of design, and I instruct my students to understand this wide concept of design. Being a graphic designer is being a visual contributor to the world.
To foster good visual contributors, my teaching strategy starts by defining my role as a design travel guide for students’ long-term expeditions into the design world. As a guide, I suggest proper direction and helpful advice so that students can be motivated to continue their journeys without frustration. Particularly, I encourage my students to find their own ways to reach their goals through widespread research and deep exploration whenever they start a new design project. As a design travel guide, I always offer numerous visual references, provide relevant information and lectures, teach graphic design software techniques step by step, and construct a flexible classroom environment to arouse their creative ideas and best performances.
The ultimate goal of graphic design is to create effective visual communication. Visuals involving metaphorical or symbolic meanings can be successfully elevated by various practices. Therefore, during their design processes, I urge students not to hesitate to try miscellaneous experimental approaches, and unfamiliar materials and methods. In other words, I give very detailed information about each project for their inspiration then I observe students’ self-discovery and exploration rather than affecting many decisions by me. Through whole design procedures, my duty is to motivate their passions and to raise their self-research ability and to suggest a flexible atmosphere to perform inventive ideas fully. By sharing critical thinking and applying new trials, students achieve satisfying visual problem solving by themselves. I’m a guide and helper for students not to lose their way.
Most graphic design courses are project-based and computer lab-oriented courses in any universities so that students can be ready to go to the real professional design industry with confidence. I adopt the same approach assigning diverse design projects based on the different levels of the courses for students’ hands-on design practice. Each design project requires properly applying traditional design principles and elements along with reflecting modern design trends and technologies. It also requires spending extra hours out of class meeting to complete the assigned project on time with excellent quality.
During the design procedure, I provide timely feedback to improve students’ work quality, and allow group discussions to share diverse ideas and thoughts with each other. The reason is that design is not for self-satisfaction; it needs the agreement and support of many others before being released to the public. Moreover, I assign oral presentations to my students after completing design projects so that they can practice real world presentations. Through these oral presentations, students try to explain their designs with logical reasons, and persuade their potential clients and targeted audience rationally. Finally, I give formal critique for each design project based on the student’s idea, process, physical work, and presentation.
THREE ESSENTIAL FEATURES IN TEACHING
There are numerous features that can be considered in design education. As a design educator, I emphasize three important aspects in my teaching: applying interdisciplinary knowledge, real world preparation, and active social engagement.
First, I always encourage students to build and apply interdisciplinary knowledge to their assigned design projects. Graphic design is not an independent field that can find an effective solution within the limited boundaries of design theory and principles. Design trend and society’s needs are rapidly changing and many other fields are interwoven and connected directly or indirectly. Thus, I influence my students to extend their knowledge by related fields over design area. I also encourage my students to consider the relationships combining historical by-hand craftsmanship with contemporary technology as unique and novel approaches. Challenge based on interdisciplinary understanding is always necessary for design innovation.
Second, I agree that academia should not be a device only for students’ vocational demand. University education should fulfill its duty to support the intellectual desires of students. However, simultaneously, I also agree that university education should be devoted to students’ career development. Therefore, in my courses, I always assign at least one real world-based project during the semester. I think one of my responsibilities is to assist students to be ready to go into the real professional design field with confidence. They practice how to reflect clients’ needs, industry standards, professional presentation, and keep all requirements as professionals rather than merely learners. Students sometimes tend to reflect their individual experience and personalities in the work. Good design should lead to satisfaction of as many targeted viewers as possible rather than remaining stuck in the self-pleasure of the designer. To make powerful visual communication, to avoid only performing in their limited knowledge and personal experience to the design, these real world-based projects are efficient.
Last but not least, I offer my students socially engaging projects to conduct their active participation as community members. If design performance is only for its aesthetic features, this can be considered just a classroom hobby. Aesthetic is one of the essential factors both in art and design; however, graphic design contributes to our community and society with visual representations of meaningful opinions. For example, through environmental or social issue poster projects, students can experience how they create rational, ethical, and persuasive visual massages to attract their audience.