Recounting this past semester at VCU Brandcenter; it was hectic, fun, stressful, challenging, inspirational, frustrating, & overall a pretty weird collection of people (of which I like to include myself most proudly). I guess my expectations going in were a little different than what the school actually was like, both in a positive and negative sense. I suppose all the advice I was given from alumni was pretty sound, you get out what you put in. Having agency experience before entering school I was extremely intent on producing campaigns and portfolio work from the start but as I found out this was not going to be the case.
Initially I thought that if I just spent enough time on creating the idea behind the ad/campaign that I would eventually lead to great work through repetition, but this is only half true. Working your ass off doesn't mean shit if your work sucks, but it is really hard to produce great work without working your ass off. A lot of the first semester is learning how to hold greater standards of work, to think and look deeper for true human connections that muster more than a passing smirk.
Work that I see being produced now that I used to think was pretty edgy/funny I 'feh' at. Things that I previously thought really clever now just seem lazy. And every day I am in awe of the amount of terrible advertising that constantly bombards us. This standard of thought is something that is constantly hammered into your skull, it is very hard to impress any of the professors. I like to try and view advertising as part of the art or entertainment that I am indulging as something I am choosing to enjoy and most of the time it doesn't make me move inside.
Also at Brandcenter the teaching is a little different than what I expected, I was given much more practical teachings on abstract thinking and was taught less on practical applications than I thought I would have been. But I think the first semester really is just to break you down and challenge you to a new pace and standard. At times I was amazed at how inspiring the school was and at times disillusioned by my own frustrations of not reaching a goal.
You really need to look deeper at why you are doing something but at the same time you are bombarded with assignments. This forces you to produce, organize and collaborate with a unique group of people. It is definitely challenging working with a lot of different personalities, ideas, energy levels, schedules, etc. One thing that I noticed this semester was the amount of impatience I had at myself. Everything that I wanted to do wasn't good enough. I was thinking that I need to make it good enough to get me a job in over a year. Although I would like to say I generally do a good job at keeping my mental state in a good place, the last semester certainly tested this. I definitely put too much pressure on creating excellent work and I burned out on a few projects, where I just couldn't find a new way to approach it. This was an incredible lesson as I felt projects that I were either more interested in or didn't think so damn stressfully on turned out to be my better work.
Overall the teachers for the most part were pretty great. Our Art Direction class missed Wayne Gibson as the professor and I think that set us back a little. But as I am beginning to note the real learning points are what do you do on your own time, how do you collaborate and learn from others, how do you stay motivated through weeks of work? Once you're in the real world nobody gives a damn and if you don't grow you die, this is something that definitely prompted me to re-enter the beautiful community found in education.
Next semester I have a lot of goals but my number one is having fun. I definitely felt there were times I wanted to shake the negativity out of people and eventually this hit home with me, you have to rely on yourself and have confidence. Right away people complain about work, no sleep, bad teachers, working with people who are hard to work with... I know I just did a bevy of complaining see above^ But this is what I love doing, I love creating and thinking about deeper meanings for problems and solutions, I signed up for this. And every single day at Brandcenter is a gift to better myself as a creative thinker in ways that people just rarely had the luxury of having.
More to come in the coming weeks.