7 Extremely Important Things Every Graphic Design Student Should Know

1. Learn the difference between kerning, tracking, and leading.  Otherwise you will sound really stupid if you’re talking about them in class and say the wrong meaning for one.  Trust me, I’m a pro at sounding stupid.

2. Back that thing up!  Picture this:  It’s finals week.  You just finished your project that took you 12 hours to make.  You’re as giddy as a school girl because you are so excited to show off your handiwork. You’re imagining the teacher telling the entire class to just quit while they’re ahead because there’s no way they can compete with you.  And out of nowhere some idiot knocks right into your precious flash drive and completely smashes off your life’s work.  My first year I went through 4 flash drives, 3 CDs, a laptop (PC) and the giant orange block external hard drive.  It wasn’t until I was introduced to THIS and THIS that my life was finally complete. Save it everywhere and as many times as you can.

3. Use strokes, drop shadows, and gradients wisely.  Just because they’re there and you know how to use them doesn’t mean you know how to use them correctly.  There’s a fine line between looking like boss and getting fired by your boss for crappy design.

4. The pen tool is your best friend. To be perfectly honest with you, I used to hate the pen tool with a passion.  I would walk into class every week and tell my teacher just that, and how I would never like or use it.  But he promised me that I would come to love it.  And the magical man was right, because now I illustrate every chance I get.  I am proof that if I can do it, so can you.  So thank you Paul Thens for making me eat my words.

5. Keep your ego/drama at the door. I can’t tell you how many people I know who come to school just to have fun.  They love to insist to their “best friends forever” they’re flipping amazing at what they do yet then it comes to actually working, they have every excuse in the book.  For the sake of everyone around you, don’t be one of them.  Now I am not saying don’t have fun while you’re here, but just don’t let it get in the way of turning your assignments in.

6. Papyrus is the devil.  I don’t care if you’re making a bulletin for a church, thou shall not use crappy fonts for the Lord. Don’t believe me?

7. And finally don’t run up the stairs in 5 inch heels. …You’d think that this one would be pretty self-explanatory.  But my first quarter at school I was so worried about being late to my class that I actually fell up the stairs.  And while you can try to get up like nothing happened, that won’t stop your new pals from never letting you live it down.

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