• Opinion-lead

    Opinion: Style in education – shortcut to failure or silent indicator?

Opinion

Opinion: Style in education – shortcut to failure or silent indicator?

Posted by It's Nice That,

This week illustrator and visiting lecturer David Callow looks at why developing a style at university might not be as negative as it is sometimes seen. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.

Style is a word that pops up quite a lot in education and is certainly a key focus for a number of students I meet.  This word ‘style’ though can be a bit of a taboo between educators, who often see a student’s focus on it as a distraction from meaningful development. I would like to propose – as style is a product of innovation (trends aside) – that this as an issue not to be dismissed, but understood more fully.

This aversion of the term style on behalf of the educator, is reinforced by the unmistakable display of a student choosing an approach to briefs arbitrarily, passing up a valuable opportunity to explore their own ability to construct unique solutions.  We’ve all seen it I’m sure, but from experience I have noticed these students are not necessarily looking to shortcut effort, with certain misadventures requiring admirable commitment and time to produce. Could a focus on style simply be a reveal to the kind of practical knowledge a student may think they require to become illustrators? A sort of silent indicator of what students are looking for from a degree.


It’s not too long before students see that a system of image-making determines many practical factors including production times, levels of applicability to different types of briefs and so on. I have come to think that students who explore the issue of style, do so with the honest intent to transition their efforts into something more real, into something that makes sense in the world.

I believe it is the role of the educator to pick up on this silent indicator and provide clarity.  Educators must reveal to students that the way the work looks, the type of content they see and how they see it, are factors informed by an illustrator’s uniquely developed process. By moving the student’s focus from a divergent array of perceived details, to an integrated understanding that these details are unified by a personalised methodology, the educator attends to the source of the inquiry with the premise that learning, exploration and understanding is the source of style formation.

Students understand that effort and commitment are part of what is required to excel, but not every student is aware of the absolutely fundamental role of process. As educators, it is important that we propose a framework of ideas that makes sense and enables the student to develop an independent pursuit.  By highlighting the role of process in the formation of style, students can commit in full confidence to a meaningful exploration of practice without shrugging the commercial requirements of the profession they have observed,  observations which provide objectivity to the active pursuit of their future careers.

www.davidcallow.co.uk

comments powered by Disqus
Nice

Posted by It's Nice That

The It’s Nice That byline is used on posts that relate to the site in general, specific announcements or pieces where there is no clear single author. Contact us using the email address below if you have questions, feedback or complaints.

Most Recent: Opinion View Archive

  1. List

    We were pretty impressed with the new Airbnb logo when it launched last week, but for a different perspective, here’s Rob Mitchell from We All Need Words. He tells us why he’s had enough of “over-cooked brand stories masquerading as strategy” and as ever you can add your thoughts below…

  2. List

    In light of our recent changes and the launch of the new-look Design Observer, Rob Alderson reflects on design websites’ redesigns. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below, and we’re particularly keen to hear what you’re making of our new look!

  3. List

    This week James Cartwright wonders what the V&A is up to with its policy of “Rapid Response Collecting” and whether it really marks a shift in their curation policy. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.

  4. List

    This week Rob Alderson considers the aftermath of the disastrous Robin Thicke Twitter Q&A and wonders how it was ever signed off when what was going to happen seemed entirely predictable. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.

  5. Opinion-list

    This week assistant editor Maisie Skidmore asks what makes a good group show. Are they really all they’re cracked up to be, or are they poised for failure? Tell us what you think of them and which you’ve been to that were especially brilliant or terrible in the comments section below.

  6. Main

    This week online editor Liv Siddall wonders if anyone actually enjoys the huge amount of wacky summertime events that are on offer in London. As always your comments and opinions are welcome below.

  7. Main

    This week, editor Liv Siddall gets excited about the upcoming ELCAF festival in London, and tells you all sternly why YES it is very important that we keep going to live events surrounding graphic arts and comics.

  8. Top

    This week Nat Hunter, director of design at The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (RSA) and a trustee of D&AD, welcomes awards being given to projects that make a real difference. It might mark, she believes, a fundamental shift in the design world. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below.

  9. Main

    This week our Editorial Assistant Madeleine Morley reflects on her four weeks at It’s Nice That but wonders if the fast turnover of creative content online is really a good thing. Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to join in the conversation below.

  10. Main1

    This week Apple turned down an application for an app that promotes female masturbation on the grounds that it’s inappropriate. Liv Siddall wonders whether, despite the criticism over the design of the app, that was really the issue here. As always, get involved with your own comments below.

  11. Opinion

    This week Rob Alderson looks at actors who were too good-looking for the roles they played and asks Hollywood to give viewers a bit more credit. As ever you can join the discussion below.

  12. Main

    Two years ago when this Opinion feature started, Rob Alderson wrote a piece about the rampant rise of the “must-see” culture; shows which the media’s frenzy makes you feel like you have to go and see. Hands up who found themselves queuing for the Bowie show at the V&A without knowing much more about him than just the chorus to Life on Mars? Me. Who queued bottom-to-crotch in the rain with about 1,000 grumpy pensioners to catch a glimpse of Hockney’s A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy? Also me.

  13. List

    We really enjoyed this year’s Pick Me Up festival (as you can see from our glowing review) but others were not so convinced. Here Lawrence Zeegen, dean of design at the London College of Communications, argues that the graphic art world needs a wake-up call.