yucciestacheOk, so the “yuccie” termonology has been trending all over the internet since the article written by David Infente on Mashable two days ago. For years I’ve been hiring these guys as a creative director and teaching them at an Art college in Nashville. I think I can share a different perspective. Here’s what I see:

From the seat of the Graphic Design Coordinator at Nossi College of Art, I’ve seen the soon to be yuccie come in with a creative mind full of ideas with everything from traditional drawings and Photoshop renderings to graphics created from mobile apps. Still others are already creating timelines, scripting languages and path sequencing for animated graphics. I also see another creative type that’s a different breed altogether–the creative tech. They possess more of an inventor-like mind than that of a conceptual artist. He/she sees the world caught between reality and a more desired non realistic version that travels way faster than the generation right in front of them. Way faster.

SelfieWhen it comes to how they create, the ends don’t always justify the means. Their attention span is so short that they’re more comfortable creating multiple inventions at the same time without really finishing any of them. To them, the idea started is better than the idea finished. They’re deliberate procrastinators who are patient in their impatience to invent. Add to that the desire to develop a more interesting story around the process than the creative invention itself and you have the millennial designer who’s more creatively dangerous in the middle of creation than anything else.

Curriculums and degree options to satisfy the demand for creative tech skills in the creative industry are evolving fast. So fast most universities and colleges can’t stay on pace. The ones that are succeeding are winning the battle of “what you learned your freshman year will be outdated by the time you graduate”. That means evolving curriculums and degrees while the student is in the middle of their educational journey. Nossi even offers alumni the ability to audit future classes after graduation–for free!

From the Creative Director’s seat and with an ad agency perspective, everyone is trying to adapt to the yuccie’s lifestyle of convenience. Freelancing and flexible onsite hours for team collaboration is becoming the new norm. Continued professional education is also a must as technologies for consumers and brands are evolving rapidly. And just any job won’t do. It’s “the one they’ve been holding out for” and employers are racing to their best fishing holes to catch them.

 

techTo the millennial designer, being creative is the convenient sharing of ideas. Technology is so second nature that teaching them how to use their creative talents for anything other than narcissistically sharing with a selfie-stick is more about diversion than training. Keeping them focussed on how to use their creative story-telling inventions towards brands and employers that comfortably match their convenient technology savvy lifestyles will be the success of not just today’s companies, but newer ways to communicate brand messages for the future.

ChameleonCreativity is communication. Plain and simple. From the time cavemen painted on cave walls humans have been communicating to each other through the things we create. Try creating something without desiring a response and see what I mean. Better yet, create without the desired response and consider it even more.

Today’s graphic designers and art directors are faced with understanding how to communicate creatively in a world that has evolved through technology – allowing for cross-culture messaging in an array of new media vehicles. If there ever was a time to break down the walls of stereotyping, prejudices and empathetic sincerity it is now. Recently, AIGA and Adobe partnered to define the designer of tomorrow, specifically within the next two years. Their findings, through several years of research, are six major trends that will shape the designers of tomorrow. Basically, the development of visual, verbal and visceral communication is much deeper than mere design.

As an educator to college design students, the biggest challenge I face is convincing young creatives to abandon creative trends and develop a clear understanding of deeper communication strategies. “They must understand the social sciences and humanities in order to understand the content they are asked to communicate and they must understand how to work collaboratively with other knowledge and practice specialists.” – AIGA, Designer of 2015 Trends

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A chameleon blends in, finds safety in looking like its environment and doesn’t attract any attention. Finding the “unique” in design is nothing new. So slaying that Chameleon has been put to rest. However, in terms of today’s communication channels, jumping on the latest technologies designed for short attention spans and redundancy of content can be catastrophic to design without considering how to narrow your audience, design within a believable context, customize messaging that aligns with other social conversations and relying on engagement strategies based on cultural realities. In other words, media complacency has watered down creative executions and messaging into a pool of swirling color. Slaying that chameleon will take a deeper knowledge in design thinking than ever before.

Educators are speeding to offer the latest software and technology training without teaching the bigger understanding of how to use these new medias in a unique way. Just having an “app for that” is no longer the goal. Recommending creative solutions with these new resources, including possible considerations to product evolvement by designers, will be the key to success. Tackling creative issues within a bigger perspective outside the designer’s capabilities will now become their responsibility.

Just because a new technology is available to a designer’s creative strategic tool belt, doesn’t make it necessary. Discerning between what’s needed and what is not will be key. However, when it comes to today’s new design education practices, understanding the skills within these new capabilities will be imperative. For example: the creative development of print and e-medias will be essential to tomorrow’s designer. The creation of visual content is completely different with each user. Furthermore, adopting a “student mentality” will be the norm. Meaning, self-growth in continued education, wether on your own or within the confines of an educational institution, will be necessary to maintain continued success. In a recent article by Katia Colucci with The International Council of Communication Design, she states, “According to some experts the current half-life of personal knowledge is five years. In other words, in five years, half of our personal knowledge will be outdated. This means that to be competitive in future professional environments, we need to renew our knowledge by investing in continuous education.”

Slaying the creative chameleon has always been the challenge of graphic artists. Being unique and standing out from your surroundings is heresy to the existance of the chameleon. In contrast, it is essential to the survival of the designer. The term “cliche’ “ will now be applied to new technologies and how we use them to communicate in a transparent world.

To find out more about the future of graphic design, visit AIGA, AdobeThe Bureau of Labor Statistics or contact Bruce Stanley, Graphic Design Coordinator, Nossi College of Art.

Personal growth

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The title of this post sums up what many creatives today are feeling–their careers are being challenged by the unrealistic pace of technology and the ability to keep up. Having worked in the advertising industry for 18 years, I graduated college with a BFA majoring in graphic design. At that time, Apple was becoming the industry standard for designers and Adobe was just getting started as the go-to software company. My classmates and I were learning the very first versions of Photoshop, Illustrator and, Quark Express (not an Adobe product), because InDesign didn’t exist and its predecessor, Pagemaker, was a weak competitor. To give today’s designers a clue of what I’m talking about, Photoshop hadn’t even introduced layers yet.

Skip forward 10 years, 2005, the iPhone still had two more years before it’s introduction and websites were still considered untraditional media. Everything was mostly print and a designer’s life was moving at realistic pace. Learning new trends and adapting to software changes are part of a graphic designer’s job. However, today’s changing pace has tripled since the two generations prior. What use to take 10 years to radically change the industry and advertising media platforms, now takes 2-3 years.

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Since the introduction of the iPhone and it’s multi-touch screen, 6 years ago, and the iPad, 3 years ago this April, we have seen a dramatic shift in how consumers access information and how they engage with advertising. Terms like engagement strategies, mobile, interactive and integration now fill the brainstorming rooms of many ad agencies and now even classrooms within college environments.

So what does all this mean? What’s my point? Because what I’m saying isn’t news to anyone. And mostly to those I’m addressing–graphic designers, art directors and creatives alike. Well, it means that we are going to start seeing people infiltrate our industry that may not have had that much experience nor traditional training. However, they are use to the pace of change and will typically be more comfortable with the technology as a user. Their expectation of an ever changing world will be more aligned with the pace of the industry. Watch out old schoolers!

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Key take aways:

1. Be honest about your current capabilities. Are they up to par? Or better, are they above par?

2. Make a plan to adjust your capabilities based on your honest answer to the above question. A failure to plan is a plan to fail. Set goals that will help you accomplish your new growth.

3. Create a list of possible scenarios that will help to accomplish meeting these goals. For example:

     a. Workshops, seminars, conventions, or summits

     b. Online/offline learning – tutorials, textbooks, etc.

     c. Take some night classes at a local art college that will help you be more marketable (this might be dependent upon where your honest answer lies to your current capabilities.

4. Take the necessary steps (commit) to personally growing yourself to reach your desired goals.

5. Repeat steps 1-4. Let’s face it, this is your career and it will require ongoing personal growth. It will continue at a faster pace and will increase in the future.

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As the Graphic Design Coordinator of a local art college here in Nashville, Nossi College of Art, I am very aware of these changes and the challenge to not only change curriculum to meet the industry demands, but to find quality instructors who are capable of teaching our students. Even accreditation standards are having to reinvent how they look at qualified professors/instructors coming into the education system.

When I attended college in the early 90’s, the only real focus was creativity. I didn’t have many instructional courses that centered on learning technology. Today, there are just as many instruction courses within our curriculum as there are courses that utilize learning towards application and strategic execution. Of course, there will always be, and for good reason, the fundamentals of design, color, composition, and the history of art to be reckoned with as a young creative student. However, today’s graduating credit hours are packed with technical learning that almost trumps creativity. Creativity will always be the priority of the college in which I am an educator. The day this becomes obsolete will be the day I resign as a teacher of design. And I think I share this concern with many others in the education business.

So, what’s the good news? It’s that we now have an array of new opportunities to be clever, consistent and transparent (real) in design thinking and communicating a brand’s message in unique ways. Grass roots is being replaced with gorilla and multi-media is being replaced with media channels or integrated campaigns. And a campaign’s length is now much shorter and its name is being replaced with words like experiment and beta testing.

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This is very exciting times for creatives. Students are now teaching instructors new ways of interacting with the technology they have been using since childhood. Which makes for some very engaging classroom learning situations where students feel it’s less of a structured learning environment then a shared learning experience based on relevance. To think that my 3 year old grandson will probably never play a CD or DVD and will never use a “land line” telephone are becoming real. Wait, did I say, “land line”? Replace that with keyboard.

As a designer, being challenged at a faster rate falls in line with what should be our motivation for new thinking and adaptability to what gets us excited–the changing ways to create and communicate. This does come with a price. However, the name of it isn’t anything new. It’s called personal growth. How we define this term is however new. Personal growth may have been something you did occasionally within your workweek. And to some, this is still something they don’t do or, unfortunately, their company doesn’t aspire to. Today, personal growth will become a much more robust ingredient to business culture. Workshops, seminars, conventions, which are seeing huge industry growth, and, yes, even going back to school, will be the new standard.

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At Nossi College of Art, we introduced one of the first Interactive Graphic Design programs as a two year associates degree. And if you are a returning student, you already have a degree in this field of study and you can apply existing credit hours to fundamental learning, you can earn that degree in less time. We are seeing adult professionals coming back to school to invest in their careers either on their own or with the encouragement by their current company. With flexible night courses they don’t even have to leave their current employer. We even allow our alumni to return and retake courses with new technical learning for FREE! The college also invests in other shorter term commitments, like a new 6 week social media sympossium offered this spring to the Nashville community. Including well known industry leading professional speakers each week.

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It is exciting times we live in. Fear can kill any new endeavor, especially a creative one. The key is wether you are continually investing in your personal growth as a designer with the pace of the industry, which is totally based on the increased speed of technology that consumers are engageing. Don’t get left behind. Your talents are still valuable. How you use them, based on new technologies, will be the new standard.


That old saying “time flies when…” holds true to my absence in updating my home here.

This story is about what’s been going on with a private art college here in Nashville. I was asked to join Nossi College of Art back in May. They needed help restoring faith in their Graphic Design program and were looking for someone with a connection in the Nashville advertising community to help build back a strong faculty to instruct at a new level. Not to mention they were in the middle of a rebrand and were struggling with some decisions that would help them establish a new perspective in the market– after 37 years it had one more chance to be new again. I was up for the challenge.

This college has a great story. Nossi is actually the name of the woman who founded the school, teaching right out of her home after immigrating from Iran. She believes everyone should have the chance to express their creativity and she became devoted to educating those wanting to explore their opportunities in art.

Today, the school is in it’s 37th year and after a long stay in Goddlettesville, TN has just built a 55,00 sq ft creative oasis right here in Nashville. I encourage you to visit the school, you won’t be disappointed. Complete with state-of-the-art technology and environmental upgrades the facility is truly a place conducive for creativity. Offering Associate and Bachelor degrees from Graphic Design and Illustration to Photography and Videography, it is an art college to be reckoned with. You can find out more about the school by visiting the website.




It’s fun branding an art college and I’m enjoying it more each and every day. Here are some examples of our latest efforts. The new logo/brand design was influenced by the public’s challenge in recognizing the correct pronunciation of the school’s name. Then we just had some fun with language surrounding the long “O” in executing the designs and additional branding.










The journey continues with new students arriving and more on the way. The bonus? Teaching these students everyday. Which brings me to the second part of the story – to grow the quality of the Graphic Design program and lead faculty to new levels of commitment.

The Graphic Design and Illustration program was critically examined by myself and another coordinator leading the Illustration program, Arden VanHeagar. Together we evolved both curriculums and invited additional professionals we knew from the industry to join our existing team of faculty. We are continuing to redefine what it takes to help students be successful in today’s industry.





With a new curriculum, new faculty, a new facility AND the new brand, the growth of Nossi College of Art is underway.

In my next post I’ll share about what I continue to do as a freelance Creative Director. Go ahead and check out one of my most interesting clients, AgencyMJ. Branding photographers is equally as fun. Also, you can find me at the upcoming BarCamp Nashville next weekend Oct. 16th, we’re I’ll be talking about a successful crowdsourcing event I directed.