During my time at uni (and since then), I've often felt a bit like people didn't take my degree seriously. Admittedly I did do a degree that was a little bit niche - Book Arts & Design. I actually think that my course taught me a lot of transferrable skills and I find myself referring back to a lot of things I learnt at uni in my current creative career so I thought I'd share my ten top tips for students today (and the eternal student that's still there within all of us).
- Use the resources that are available to you. My university had so many facilities - spaces dedicated to things like screenprinting, letterpress, binding, darkrooms... We usually did a unit on each of these techniques and then could access the rooms on a sign-up basis or as we pleased. Most people try these things and then never go back to open access, but really the units that are part of the curriculum can only teach you the basics - it's only when you go back and experiment in your own time that you can truly understand these techniques and get the most out of them. I made some money during my time at university doing custom bindings for people using the materials and resources in our room.
- Don't be shy. Join in! I'm definitely guilty of not taking my own advice here. At the start of uni and particularly during my foundation course I was really shy and it took me quite a long time to find friends. I went to university quite close to my home in London and so I still had most of my school friends in close proximity to me. I think if you're away from home for university this one's even more important. Join clubs and societies if you find ones that interest you and find some like-minded people. It's so valuable to get to know other people who are in the same situation as you that you can talk to about your coursework (and have fun with after uni!). I joined the team on my course that planned exhibitions and learnt a lot from the experience.
- Take advantage of discounts and freebies. That student card in your wallet is worth so much! You can get discounts at so many places so don't forget to use it. I was lucky enough to travel to quite a few countries in Europe during my degree and I found that my student card was really handy when getting into exhibitions and landmarks on my holidays, meaning I had more money to spend on beer! Keep an eye out for things like London Graphics Centre's Student Day, where you can get 20% discount on everything in store, take part in creative activities and get a goodie bag full of lots of exciting new art materials to use at uni.
- Experiment and get out of your comfort zone. You'll have the opportunity to try lots of different techniques and materials - make the most of that. Listen to your tutors and take their advice, you never know what you'll learn from them.Don't just stick to what you know or what you've done in school, try new things!
- Don't leave things until the last minute. Get organised. Easier said than done I know, but get hold of a student planner and use it. Make sure you're aware of deadlines well in advance and try not to put things off, you'll only end up rushing it and handing in something you're not 100% happy with. Make sure you have a proper workspace at home where you can sit and focus.
- Take notes! Write things down when you're in class. My memory is awful and I find that if I don't take notes I have no chance of remembering any of the things I'm taught. I still refer back to notes I made at uni now.
- Make mistakes. Those failed projects always end up teaching you something. There's no shame in getting things a little wrong sometimes.
- Remember to take time out to rest. Don't burn out or you'll be no use in class. Make sure you give yourself some proper time off - and I don't mean going on a night out! Give yourself some lazy mornings and evenings off between work to recharge.
- Never stop learning. Be curious. Read books. Explore. Experiment. Don't focus only on your coursework - find other things that interest you too, you never know what might spark off an idea for a new piece of work.
- Have fun! With your work and socially. University should be something you look back on fondly forever! I have to admit I could have done much more socially if I'd tried a bit harder and wasn't so shy but the memories I do have are priceless!
Just some of the supplies you'll find in a London Graphics Centre Student Day Goody Bag can be seen in the photo above. LCG kindly send me one in the post and I had fun writing my list of tips with some of the pens included (I was very excited to find a yellow Pilot G-Tec in there - my fave!!).