I thought some people might be interested in what it was like at college (HND in Graphic Design in the UK in 1990) for a thirty something graphic designer like me. I know I would love to hear what it is like know if any students or recently qualified people would like to share their design education experiences.

I remember the first day finding the room – containing about 25 drawing boards (yes you heard right – drawing boards) and finding the one that had been allocated to me. My design education was in the period where most people were using computers for graphic design but clearly the college could not afford many of them. Yes there was a computer room containing about 30 macs – mac classic (not colour that would have been stretching it) – those little ones with screens of about 15 cm square. This room though was shared between several hundred students so you would have to try and book your space for maybe an hour or two in the week. We used Macwrite (a poor mans word) Macdraw ( a completely uncontrollable drawing package) and Macromedia Freehand. Quark was the program that people were using in the industry but again at about £1000+ a time, even in 1990, I think the college owned one copy, and I certainly never got to see it.

A scanner yes I think there was one A4 black and white scanner in the room and the luxury of an A4 black and white laser printer. Who needs a colour printer when you could attempt to hand render your typography – with a good old rotring ink pen (I was so bad at it) and for glorious colour you could use the omnicron machine on safemat. I can hear you asking what is omnicron and safemat. Basically you would create your text in black and white – run the safemat (sort of like a sheet of clear A4 sticky back plastic) run it through a photocopier, then you would get your sheet of omnicron film/paper (in a colour of your choice), put it on top of the safemat with black text, run it through and omnicron machine which sort of heated it up and the colour would stick to the black text. Then you took the backing off the safemat and stuck your (often patchy) coloured text on to your hand done or photographically printed visual…..simple!

We would be given a project – often they would last 6 weeks, can you imagine – 6 weeks to design a poster. I would be lucky to get a day now. And in that 6 weeks you wouldn’t produce poster options as you would for a client, no you would produce 1 poster. It was quite bizaar and quite like anything that resembled the real world. The good things were having the facilities like the Photography studio and screen printing rooms at your hand to experiment with and of course the people.

So what is design at college like now?