217: a baptism of fire

Those of you reading this blog will fall into one of two camps. Either you’ll be reading this thinking ‘Yeah OK, sounds like a good way to get involved with the design education fraternity, build bridges between academia and industry, collaborate and ensure the future of the next generation of creative graduates’, or you’ll be coming out in cold sweats having traumatic flashbacks thinking ‘Have I got a good idea? Will they like what I’ve done? Am I going to die on my feet? Mum, why did you leave me in the bear-pit of creative critics?’

28 years on (yes, I am THAT old) I started my degree course in graphic design at Preston Polytechnic (confirming the reason for the onset of my ‘arctic blond’ highlights) I very much fall into the latter.

I am of course talking about the dreaded one-week projects that were the baptism of fire into the creative world at Preston Polytechnic.

Eight weeks, eight projects, eight presentations, eight critiques. Eight weeks of brain crunching, ideas generating, panicking, doubting, creating, believing, disbelieving, then delivering every Friday in the dragon’s den that was room 217.

The briefs were designed to test your mettle, to make you think, to make you realise that everything you did in design needed a ‘good idea’, it needed to communicate, that ‘pretty’ simply wasn’t going to cut it. They were designed to see if you could find that unique perspective, that wheel you could slightly reinvent, put two and two together and make five, but more importantly, that you could present your idea to a baying crowd ready to poke and prod at every weakness you exposed – not much to ask!

I remember vividly the emotional roller coaster, the highs and lows, the successes and the failures, like they were yesterday.

So what is now quite surreal, is being asked to be on the other side of the fence. We have joined forces with the University of Central Lancashire (nee Preston Polytechnic) to help critique the current batch of students’ work produced during those infamous eight one-week projects. We will be there every Friday this term with Andy Bainbridge and team, reviewing, critiquing, encouraging (and empathising) the creative thinking of the 1st year students.

It’s part of rekindling our involvement with an establishment that we are indebted to for educating many of our team, Simon, Graham, Ali, Neil, and Karen (as well as myself), responsible for providing work experience to many of us over the years, as Forepoint has provided work experience for students in return since we began in 1992.

So being asked to get involved on the ‘creative coal face’ to help the students is a privilege and an experience we couldn’t turn down. It’s also another step to further involvement we’ll be having with the design faculty of UCLan to help ensure the continual flow of the next generation of creative thinkers which are crucial to the future of our industry.

Watch this space to find out more about how our adventures unfold :–)