First, what to learn:
The answer in my opinion is how to use type correctly! 90% of every piece of communication uses words on a page. Whether the page be a web page; print advertisement; brochure; signage or end tag on a tv commercial.
Like anything, learn the rules first because only then can you successfully break them.
It may sound boring but typography is the framework that everything else hangs off. No matter how great the image or copywriting may be, if the headline and body copy are set poorly the whole piece will fall down.
Knowing how to use type not only means that your work will look good, but that the message will be clear.
Visually type layout and selection allows a designer to create a message
that can speak various themes and subtleties beyond the literal meaning of the text.
Another great thing about knowing how to use just type without the need for trendy imagery, means that on a budget where imagery is too expensive or time will not allow for the creation of an illustration/photoshoot, you can still create a stunning piece of design.
Second, what not to get hung up on:
Computer skills and production knowledge. Now I am not saying you don’t need to know how to use industry standard programs and how a job is actually produced. What I am saying (and I have argued with many other designers who disagree with me about this – funnily enough I never thought that much of their work), is to take the time in your study to learn how to actually design! See your knowledge of computer programs as being of
When I look at CVs from graduates for employment opportunities I am interested in how they design, which is to say how good their use of type is; knowledge of design styles and influences; problem solving solutions through design; and layout skills etc. Not how well they use Adobe products.
I don’t care how long it took to come up with the solution or if it is commercially viable. I believe it is more important to learn to design when studying than worry about restraints like deadlines or budgets, you get that constantly in the ‘real world’ so worry about that then. You learn quickly enough how to use the programmes etc on the job anyway. You need to ask yourself, do you want to be a finished artist/mac operator or a designer, I have worked in plenty of agencies where I have had Mac operators create the finished art, although I prefer to be hands on from start to finish.
So take the time to learn typography; experiment; push the envelope and have fun while you can.